Saturday, December 22, 2012

"The Folly of the World"

Jesse Bullington writes historical fantasy informed by his knowledge and enthusiasm for the darker parts of European folklore (and fact). He is the author of The Sad Tale of the Brothers GrossbartThe Enterprise of Death, and the newly released The Folly of the World.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Folly of the World and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Folly of the World:
True dark was still a few prayers off but it was past suppertime when Jan picked his way back toward Markt Plein, the earlier traffic diminished to only the occasional beggar or cluster of youths. The narrow stone streets enclosed him warmly, like the walls of a childhood crib, and he shook his head to think of the ugly, broad avenues of the Empire and France, the squat, low buildings of the rural neighborhoods he had traversed to return to his birthright. Holland had its share of deficiencies, to be sure, but he would take it over Brabant or Zeeland or Burgundy or anywhere else, and at long last he was in a position to take what was his.

Mackerel fetched a good price—even if Jan had bought the horse instead of stealing it from a Frisian stable the previous winter, he would have likely turned a profit. Then he found a boatman who would take them down the Merwe to Dordrecht in the morning for a far sight less than he had ever paid to cross, as clear as signs came that people had adapted to the city becoming an island. To top it all, the girl had come around, though it had taken even longer than he’d feared and they’d dicked around clear to Guelders before he was confident enough in her favor to institute the next phase of the plan. If she still distrusted him, that doubt was tempered by blind affection and loyalty, as winning a combination in a girl as it was in man or dog. Things could scarce be better if—

An arm burst from a shadowy gap between the houses to his left, and before Jan could cry out, he was snatched by the cloak and spun into the alley. The back of Jan’s head cracked against a brick wall, the blow sending sickly tremors all the way down to his toes. Instead of pawing at Jan’s waist for his purse thongs, meaning theft, or covering Jan’s mouth, meaning murder, the assailant’s hand went to Jan’s throat. Jan blinked away the tears that being smashed into the building had summoned, but before he could even make out the man’s face, he knew him by the gently squeezing fingers and relaxed.
On the one hand, this excerpt is representative of the work, as the general style is maintained throughout the text, but on the other hand, it stands out in a few regards. For one thing, the perspective here is that of a character who has less page-time, so to speak, than the other protagonists, so the voice is a little different than it is in other places. With my two earlier novels, I switched perspective fairly freely, sometimes even in the middle of a scene, but with Folly I’ve kept these shifts in perspective to a minimum, so the only time there’s any head-hopping is between chapters.

For another thing, this page is the very beginning of a chapter, and so there’s a bit more establishing of the setting and action than you might find if you were to open the book to page 68 or 70. All that said, it does give the reader some idea of what they’re in for, at least where the character of Jan is concerned—he’s an opportunist, and a shameless one at that. The question this page poses is, who’s caught up with Jan, and what do they want to get out of the scheming conman?
Learn more about the book and author at Jesse Bullington's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart.

The Page 69 Test: The Enterprise of Death.

My Book, The Movie: The Enterprise of Death.

--Marshal Zeringue