Monday, November 27, 2017

"Winter of Ice and Iron"

Rachel Neumeier started writing fiction to relax when she was a graduate student and needed a hobby unrelated to her research. Prior to selling her first fantasy novel, she had published only a few articles in venues such as The American Journal of Botany. However, finding that her interests did not lie in research, Rachel left academia and began to let her hobbies take over her life instead.

She now raises and shows dogs, gardens, cooks, and occasionally finds time to read. She works part-time for a tutoring program, though she tutors far more students in Math and Chemistry than in English Composition.

Neumeier applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, Winter of Ice and Iron, and reported the following:
For most novels, page 69 should be past the introduction but well before events start rising toward the climax. In Winter, this page turns out to be mostly worldbuilding. I always avoid infodumping backstory right at the beginning of the book, but that means working in short bits of backstory and worldbuilding throughout the story, and p. 69 is one place where that happens.

On page 69, twelve percent of the way through the book, the story hits a quiet moment between disasters. At this point, Kehera Raëhema has left her own land, renouncing her claim to the throne of Harivir and her tie to her country’s strongest Immanent Power, in order to protect her people and the land itself. But she hasn’t yet arrived at her destination, met the Mad King of Emmer, shattered his plans, escaped, or found herself caught up in a sweeping tide of greater events than she can yet imagine. In this quiet moment, she has a chance to reflect and the reader has an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the world:
The Gods were mysterious and nameless, uncountable and unknowable. Folk prayed to the Fortunate Gods and hoped for their favor, but in ordinary days, no one expected them to take much notice of one person or another. But these did not seem like ordinary days to Kehera.

At least the Fortunate Gods wanted the world to prosper. They wanted the land to produce Immanent Powers that would someday rise to join them. The Unfortunate Gods wanted to shatter every land and force the apotheosis of every Immanent into their own company….Fortunate Gods quickened the warming earth in the spring and the seed in the fields and the baby in the womb; Unfortunate Gods brought the killing winds and the winter dragons. That was all an ordinary person needed to know. It was certainly all Kehera needed to know.

She made a silent oath: that she would do what she had to do to protect Harivir…. That she would do her best to teach nothing of bitterness or resentment to the Immanent of Raëh, so that in its time, far in the future, when it rose, it would become a Fortunate God.

In the predawn stillness, the unvoiced oath had the feel of truth. A light wind from the west ruffled the grass stems and picked up dust from the road to swirl into tiny whirlwinds. A vast sweep of cloud stretched across the line of the road and off to the east, dark slate against the pearl of the sky. It was going to be a beautiful morning, and almost against her will, Kehera felt her spirits lift.
In the next paragraph, Kehera arrives at the city of Suriytè, capital of the enemy nation of Emmer. Five pages later she meets the Mad King of Emmer. His plans go wrong immediately. Shortly thereafter, so do hers. The Gods, Fortunate and Unfortunate, exert their subtle influence, or occasionally not so subtle, and the world begins its plunge toward winter and the dark turn of the year, when the choices and actions of just a few women and men will decide whether the world turns back toward spring or is consumed by chaos.
Visit Rachel Neumeier's website.

My Book, The Movie: Winter of Ice and Iron.

--Marshal Zeringue