Monday, July 11, 2016

"The Waking Fire"

Anthony Ryan is the author of the Raven’s Shadow novels, including Blood Song, Tower Lord and Queen of Fire.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Waking Fire, the first novel in the Draconis Memoria series, and reported the following:
From page 69:
He was woken by the sound of a key working the lock on the heavy iron door. He didn’t rise from the bunk, turning onto his side and blinking his bleary eyes until they found focus on the brickwork. The voice that greeted him was familiar and expected, also deep with impatient resentment. “On your feet.”

Clay waited a good while before rolling onto his back, gazing up at the flaking plaster on the ceiling. His sleep had been fitful, richly populated by Derk’s and Joya’s faces, laughing sometimes, mocking at others. But mostly just burned and dead. And Keyvine. Keyvine had been there too.

“I said, get up!” the voice said with growling deliberation. “Lest you’re keen to spend the next year in here before the Protectorate decides whether to kill you or cut you open.”

Clay groaned and sat up. It was daylight now, somewhere past mid morn judging by the angle of the shadows. A tall man stood on the other side of the bars. He wore the green-leather duster and wide-brimmed hat typical of the Contractor fraternity, his hair hanging in thick braids down to his shoulders. It had been nearly two years since their last meeting but Clay still felt the same jarring disorientation when looking at his face. There were a few more lines on the forehead and the stubble on his chin was mostly grey, but the resemblance remained. They could have been twins.

“You gonna stare at me all day, boy?” the man demanded. “Off your backside, we got work.”

“Since when d’you have work for me?” Clay asked.

The man angled his head, eyes narrowing with the same angry judgement he had exhibited all those years ago when Clay shambled into his home with a recently emptied pistol in hand. “Since it turned out you were actually useful,” the man said, stepping back to jerk his head at a second man standing near the open door. Clay’s pulse quickened as he recognised him as the ununiformed Protectorate type who had shot Speeler.

“Killing the fat man was unnecessary,” Clay said.
Page 69 of The Waking Fire is the opening of a key scene in the story where one of our main protagonists, Claydon Torcreek, having woken up in gaol, meets his estranged Uncle Braddon for the first time in years. Their relationship is one of the more important aspects of the book, both in terms of character development and propelling the narrative. I’m always keen to ensure my characters change throughout the story and was very pleased with the way Clay and his Uncle came to terms with each other as the book progressed.
Visit Anthony Ryan's website.

--Marshal Zeringue