Sunday, September 20, 2015

"A Crucible of Souls"

When he was eleven, Mitchell Hogan was given The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy to read, and a love of fantasy novels was born. He spent the next ten years reading, rolling dice, and playing computer games, with some school and university thrown in. Along the way he accumulated numerous bookcases’ worth of fantasy and sci-fi novels, and he doesn’t look to stop anytime soon. For a decade he put off his dream of writing, then he quit his job and wrote A Crucible of Souls. He now writes full-time and is eternally grateful to the readers who took a chance on an unknown self-published author. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Isabelle.

Hogan applied the Page 69 Test to A Crucible of Souls and reported the following:
Page 69 of A Crucible of Souls contains a bit of a spoiler! So read on at your own risk… There are a few different point of view characters, so I was glad to see page 69 was from the main character, Caldan’s, point of view. This scene is immediately after the inciting incident which changes Caldan’s life forever. It may read a little oddly on its own because of the two scene breaks over such a short period, but I wanted to show how confused and disoriented he was – along with a deep exhaustion after the strange events of the previous chapter. It does give a glimpse into what transpires in the book, as well as an insight into the mind of Caldan. His first thoughts are not of himself, but of others and how they would feel and are affected by his actions.

From page 69:
“What happened?” he tried to ask, but all that came out was a strangled croak.

“Shhh,” the girl said. “Don’t try to talk. They said you would be weak for a while and that you need to conserve your energy.”

She folded the damp rag and placed it on his forehead, where it offered cool relief to his throbbing brow. Caldan tried to clasp her hand to thank her, but his grip slipped off. His arm felt leaden, and try as he might, he couldn’t lift it again.

“I need to inform them you’re conscious,” she said, then left in a hurry.

Caldan heard a lock click and the thud of a bar dropping in place before he drifted off again.

When he woke, the pain in his head had subsided, and his body felt much lighter, as if whatever sickness had ailed him before had completely vanished. Gingerly, he levered himself to a sitting position and looked around. The room was the same, except the two previously empty bowls were now full. He reached for one and took a mouthful of cold broth.

Visions of Marlon and the blood rose unbidden. His sword embedded in Marlon’s chest. What had happened? He had never seen one of those swords break, and he hadn’t struck that hard, had he? He struggled to recall the fight, but the memory had split into pieces of a puzzle he couldn’t put back together.

By the ancestors, what had he done? Was Marlon alive? Would Jemma forgive him? What would his punishment be? Questions, doubt, and self-recrimination went around in his mind, but he had no answers. His head swam once more, and he lay back down and fell into a dreamless sleep.

Caldan woke again, and this time he sat up with no effort at all. The candle had burned to a nub. He breathed deeply of the stuffy, thick air.
Visit Mitchell Hogan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue