Thursday, January 16, 2020


Scott Reintgen is a former public school teacher from North Carolina. He survives mostly on cookie dough, which he is told is the most important food group. When he’s not writing, he uses his imagination to entertain his wife, Katie, and their sons. Reintgen is the author of the middle-grade novel Saving Fable, as well as the Nyxia Triad and Ashlords for young adults.

He applied the Page 69 Test to Ashlords and reported the following:
To my great delight, Ashlords does pass the page 69 test. This page brings us to the point in the story when Imelda finds out she's been invited to participate in the Races. She's at the front door, her mother's arm draped around her protectively, as officials from the Empire Racing Board offer an invitation that might change her life forever. Imelda is shocked. Her father's back in the kitchen, eavesdropping, not even realizing he's spilled coffee all over the table in his shock. People from Imelda's background don't get to ride in the Races. That's just how it is. A viral video, however, has launched her into the spotlight. The only question now: what will she do with her one shot? The rest of the story from that point on is about collision. The crash of cultures participating in the race. The clash of dreams, because winning this race would mean very different things for all the riders involved.

This scene also properly shows off one of the bigger themes in the story: transformation. The riders compete by racing on the backs of phoenix horses, a unique breed that lives and dies all in one day. Good alchemy is as important as good riding, because riders can mix powders into their phoenix's ashes at night to breathe life into a horse with different abilities for the next leg of the race. It's only right that I'd also focus on how the riders themselves are transformed through the competition. What are they learning? How are they growing stronger? What will they do when push comes to shove?

Finally, it's appropriate that this page highlights one of my favorite steps in the traditional hero's journey. It's called crossing the threshold. It's the point in the novel where the main character takes their first, tremulous step into the unknown. Harry's first steps into Diagon Alley. Rand al'Thor fleeing his home in Two Rivers with Moraine. I love those moments, because it's where we find out what the hero is truly made of. Imelda's journey from this point is not all smooth. She will be tested again and again and again. She will never be the same, and I think she leads readers on the journey of a lifetime, straight into the heart of the most intense competitions in the Empire.

I hope you're ready for the Races. Godspeed.
Follow Scott Reintgen on Twitter.

The Page 69 Test: Nyxia.

--Marshal Zeringue