Friday, March 4, 2016

"Daughter of Blood"

Helen Lowe is a fantasy novelist and winner of the Gemmell Morningstar Award in 2012.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Daughter of Blood: The Wall of Night Book Three, and reported the following:
When considering the Page 69 test, I was instantly intrigued – even more intriguingly, I do believe Daughter of Blood passes the test: page 69 is indeed representative of the whole.

Here readers first encounter Kalan, one of the two main characters in The Wall of Night series (the other is Malian, the Heir of Night) charting the course that he will pursue through the book: not passing by on the other side, but stepping up on behalf of those caught in difficult circumstances and in need of either a champion or captain.

Page 69 also illuminates another key aspect of his character, that an early reader picked up on from the The Heir of Night (The Wall of Night Book One): “The thing I really like about … Kalan is that [despite considerable adversity] he … still has hope and kindness in his heart.”

And it is Kalan – as champion, captain, and yes, an innately kind individual – whose arc drives the Daughter of Blood story.

The other part of the Page 69 test is whether a reader would be inclined to read on – but I’m going to leave that decision to readers. Here’s page 69 in full, to help you decide.
Orth surged to his feet, roaring, as a small thief seized the half-eaten pastry from his plate, while the server and other patrons cursed and grabbed at darting bodies. Those who sat further back, or had already eaten, laughed and called encouragement to either side, only swiping out if any urchin came too near. The vagabonds twisted and dodged clear, racing away with their booty.

Safety, Kalan saw, was a tangle of godowns at the town end of the dock, and the raiders took full advantage of wharf traffic to make their escape. All, that is, except the ragged lad who had snatched Orth’s pastry. His swerve to avoid one of the alejack drinkers brought him too close to Tawrin, who stuck out a foot and brought him down flat. The boy sprang up again immediately, the pastry still clutched in his hand—but it was too late. Orth’s giant hand had closed on the tattered tunic and now hoisted the thief high, his other fist poised to smash into the dirty, terrified face.

“Stand!” Kalan ordered the horses—one of Jarna’s painstakingly inculcated commands—and sprang forward, intercepting Orth’s blow. The giant snarled and tried to hammer the fist into Kalan’s face instead. Checking the strike’s momentum felt like trying to prevent a mountain toppling, and Kalan called on the combined strength of five years working in the Normarch forge, and training in full Emerian armor with sword and lance, battle-axe and mace. His arm and shoulders were rock, his mind cool as his eyes met Orth’s. “He’s just a child,” he said, keeping his voice level.

The Sword giant’s expression was almost comical as he glared from Kalan’s hand, locked on his wrist, into his face. “He’s a sniveling Haarth thief!”

“He’s hungry,” Kalan answered, countering Orth’s shift in weight and alert for a head butt, or knee to the groin. “Look at him.”

Orth glared, his head lowered. “A thief!” he roared, and shook his captive so violently that the boy’s head snapped back, his teeth jarring together. But the threadbare tunic, unequal to such treatment, tore apart—and the boy’s body dropped clear, leaving Orth with a handful of fabric.
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--Marshal Zeringue