Monday, November 24, 2008

"A Woman Worth Ten Coppers"

Morgan Howell is the author of the Queen of the Orcs trilogy: King’s Property, Clan Daughter, and Royal Destiny.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, A Woman Worth Ten Coppers, and reported the following:
Page sixty-nine of A Woman Worth Ten Coppers is one of the calmer parts in a book written to be a page-turner. But it is also a part concerned with the nature of holiness, a major theme of the novel.

Honus is a man whose life is dedicated to the goddess Karm. Yim is the young woman who becomes his slave. Honus has served one holy person all his life, but that man has just been slain. Admonished by his master never to bear his own burden, Honus buys Yim to carry his pack. He is unaware that she was enslaved while on a mission for Karm, and Yim intends to keep it that way.

Page sixty-nine concludes the chapter where Yim performs her first miracle. She and Honus are staying with a mad woman who believes that Yim is her murdered child. When Yim thinks everyone is asleep, she cures the old woman by raising the child’s spirit. Honus catches Yim returning to bed and nearly beats her for attempted thievery, accusing her of dishonoring Karm.

Yim hides her powers from Honus because she has been raised to do so. More significantly, she sees them only as gifts bestowed so she might fulfill her obligation to the goddess. Later, she confides to a friend “I’m not special, my task is.”

The old woman gives Yim the dress saved for her daughter’s wedding as a token of her appreciation and realization that her daughter will never return. She addresses Yim as “Karmamatus,” a term reserved for holy ones. However, Honus and the woman’s son can’t comprehend her reverence, and the dress quickly disintegrates. Yim is left nearly naked, weary from the night’s exertions, and in a sullen mood.

In writing Yim, I was inspired by the passage in Mark where Jesus cries from the cross “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” At this moment, he seems neither confident nor divine, only a man in pain who is racked by despair and uncertainty. That is the moment in which Yim dwells. She may possibly be Karm’s incarnation, but she never sees herself as such. Always centered on her human side, Yim’s relationship with Karm is a combination of love and resentment. Fantasy heroines often wield swords or bolts of magic. I wanted to write of one whose strongest power is compassion.
Read an excerpt from A Woman Worth Ten Coppers, and learn more about the book and author at Morgan Howell's website.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue