Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Five Odd Honors"

Jane Lindskold is the author of the acclaimed Firekeeper fantasy series and the new Breaking the Wall fantasy series. She lives in Albuquerque with her husband, archaeologist Jim Moore, and several cats.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Five Odd Honors, and reported the following:
Coincidence is a funny thing. Back when my novel Thirteen Orphans, the first book in the “Breaking the Wall” series, was a new release, I was asked if I’d like to write a Page 69 piece.

I did so, using a reading I was giving at Page One Bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a way to test the page in question.

This year I was again asked if I’d like to do a Page 69 piece, this time related to Five Odd Honors, the third book in the “Breaking the Wall” series. (The middle book is called Nine Gates, in case you’re wondering). Once again I had a reading scheduled at Page One Bookstore. I decided to trust the omens and, as before, reserved a peek at page 69 of Five Odd Honors until I was before an audience at the bookstore.

I started my reading with the prologue and first chapter from the novel. I think it’s pretty good but, when you’re three books into a series, there are a lot of characters and past action to introduce. There’s more talk than walk (although there is also a very strange dream and a nasty threat, too).

I wondered what page 69 would offer. I hoped for a bit of action since both action and intrigue have their places in Five Odd Honors. I couldn’t have been happier. The first words were: “Raw anger powered her next blow.”

I recognized the scene immediately, one of the stranger battles in a book containing more than its share of such: Pearl Bright against the ghost of her father, Thundering Heaven.

However, what my listeners quickly gathered as I read on was that neither Pearl nor her father were fighting in human form. As both held (or had held in Thundering Heaven’s case) the role of the Tiger among the Thirteen Orphans, now they fought as tigers. I quote:
They sparred, occasionally drawing blood, but neither doing more than scoring the other’s coat. Eventually, on each, golden orange fur acquired added stripes of muddy, dark red, stripes that, trickling into the white fur of ruff and underbelly, marked the course of a wound in vivid scarlet.

They snarled, chuffed, and hissed as they fought. Soon both were panting, foam and saliva dripping from open mouths. They were well enough matched – her greater dexterity eliminating the advantage of his greater size and weight, both of them skilled in combat – that Pearl began to feel the battle could go on forever.
Does the battle go on forever? Who wins? I read onto page 70. I hope that any reader picking up the book for examination in the bookstore might do so as well. Then, hopefully, that reader will go back to find out how a woman in her seventies and her dead father ended up battling as tigers in a very strange jungle.
Read an excerpt from Five Odd Honors, and learn more about the book and author at Jane Lindskold's website.

The Page 69 Test: Thirteen Orphans.

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

--Marshal Zeringue