GENRE: Magical Realism (magical realism is a device, not a genre. What you have here is fantasy)
"It's about dragons. Those who pursue and those who protect. Those from whom we run and those whom we seek, the ones bequeathed us and those of our own manufacture. Bane or balm, we decide what role each plays."
-- Excerpt from THE DRAGON BROTHERS by PHILIPPE BIJOUTIER, first lieutenant to TRISTIN CONSEILLE, Captain of the Gendarme of MONTMAR.
In a forest, on winter solstice, Tristin faces down those dragons yet again. Ambushed, unable to maneuver, he listens as members of his patrol are killed. While he searches out their escape he mentally composes the letters of condolence he must send to each family.
At age twenty-three, Tristin is a veteran of six years of service, and five broken marriage engagements. (yea those divorce engagements are so much worse) He's an expert chess player, an accomplished artist and abrasive as hell. Skilled in warfare, unskilled in life, Tristin escapes the daily circus of political pandering and military strategy sessions by illustrating his friend, Philippe's, stories or getting drunk.
BENARD, Tristin's brother and his commander, is a veteran of thirteen years. (floridization alert) He escapes his nightmares by playing hide and seek with his conscience and does what he can to keep Tristin and their young cousin, GUY, a sergeant, in one piece.
hide and seek with his conscience? oh man.
Scions of Montmar's ruling family, top officers in Montmar's defense, the brothers weary of a conflict they feel helpless to control.
Montmar wars with its neighbor BARCELA over the forest and the river which divides them. After years of drought, Barcela faces famine of catastrophic proportions. Desperate for water and the forest's resources, Barcela plans a decisive offensive to wrest back control. Lacking the numbers and expertise to eject Montmar from the forest on its own, Barcela forms a brittle alliance with its neighbor to the north, the Dahkarin empire.
DAHKAR, the realm caught in the middle, needs the river passage to transport its textiles to Montmar's port, but must have the dyes produced by Barcela to manufacture those textiles. A surprise attack by the combined Dahkarin and Barcelan armies kills hundreds on all sides.
Benard petitions the Montmarin council and his father to consider negotiation with Barcela. Two of Tristin's best friends died in the battle. Unwilling to negotiate with their murderers, Tristin opposes Benard, instead suggesting Montmar negotiate with Dahkar, that Montmar
cut Barcela out of the picture entirely. His poignant plea seems reasonable to a council reeling from the loss of so many of their sons.
A dragon, once injured, is unpredictable. Trisin's uncle, Guy's father, travels to Dahkar seeking terms for peace. The King of Dahkar has him killed. Tristin blames himself for his uncle's death. He cringes to see Guy adapt his own hard edge in the wake of his father's death.
wait...these are dragons?
During a maneuver, Tristin climbs a tree to seek a better vantage. He takes an arrow and plummets to earth to land in the middle of a goat herd in a place far removed from the battle. There, a beautiful woman tends to his wounds. A man who seems to know him is belligerent to
him. Tristin ignores the man, but asks the woman to marry him.
yea, nothing like the smell of goat to bring on love.
Tristin wakes in his own world, upset to learn the girl is his own manufacture. His road back to normalcy is torturous. Trapped by the sequelae (the what?) of his injuries and the drugs required to ease his pain, he seeks refuge in his art. Dragons dominate his creations, haunt his dreams and his waking hours. They creep out of their corners to take on form and substance. His friends and family watch Tristin's transformation in dismay, doubting his sanity, uncertain what to do.
Another realm enters the fray. Traditional enemies of Dahkar, CABUL worries Dahkar will gain a stranglehold on the river and the forest. They throw in their lot with Montmar. Heartened, Benard plans another offensive, one meant to sweep the enemy from the forest.
Both sides play dirtier. The body count rises, Tristin's humanity slips away. He reconsiders his stance, goes to his brother and father, begs them to push negotiation with Barcela, to keep the Cabul out of it. In his own turnaround Benard fights him, certain Montmar finally has what it needs to gain victory.
At the northern end of the river, ALBATIA, a peaceful country that does not maintain an army sends an envoy with offers to negotiate a truce, their hope to prevent the war from creeping further up the river. The envoy is headed by Albatia's Steward, ANYON KAMBUJ. Anyon is the man Tristin met in the goat field. The woman Tristin proposed to is Anyon's sister. The Albatians are pragmatists, uncomfortable with the deceit and intrigue typical of more sophisticated realms. Their offers to help are met with suspicion and hostility. Every opportunity for advancement is met by a setback which pushes all sides closer to the brink.
Unknown to all is the truth that Philippe's story of the dragon brothers is real. Players who set this conflict in motion, the dragon brothers use the combatants as pawns for their own amusement. One sets the humans' shortcomings against themselves, the other seeks to use the humans' strengths to their advantage. Their machinations set the stage for disaster, a fire, then a flood which devastates the forest and the four armies.
!!alien alert!! WTF is this?
Though the dragon brothers debate the outcome of their game, the humans lose their stomach for war. Negotiations begin in earnest. An uneasy equilibrium is reached as all parties struggle to gather the pieces. Though crippled by his injuries and grief-stricken over Philippe's death, Tristin decides to make himself a hopeful future and asks the Albatian's permission to make a proper introduction to his sister.
I have no idea what you’re doing here.
A synopsis is not the place for florid writing. Just tell me what the F happens, who’s important and what the pivotal moments are.
You start out quoting a book that’s part of the story to explain a story I haven’t read. That’s the very definition of circular reasoning.
Your prose looks like rococo furniture, no flourish left furled.
Then it turns out to be a story within a story (I think...I’m not quite sure).
You’ve gotten trapped into a common mistake...the synopsis follows the chronology of the book. When you do that here, the reveal comes out of left field and makes me wonder WTF are you doing.
This kind of thing CAN word on the page, but in a synopsis you want to lead with format, not surprise the hell out me with it at the end.
And goats really stink by the way.