#66 Crapometer

Genre: Fantasy

Jol trains to be a Predator mage to erase the shame of his halfcaste birth so he can earn his maternal family's acceptance. On graduation day, the day to achieve those dreams, he is outcasted (cast out) for refusing to kill a creature to take its magic. It is pregnant; the Predators don't care. They bind his ability to do Predator magic, leaving Jol with one recourse: the courts. If they believe him capable of being a Predator, they will grant a second chance. In Jol's mind, there is no other choice; he must be a Predator.

If he must be a predator, why won’t he do what predators must? I don’t understand the dilemma here.

An unholy ability, one Jol buried long ago, stirs--his soul can leave his unconscious body and move about as a ghost. Through this ability, Jol sees a Rapax mage with its female, human victim. He also sees strange tattoos on their foreheads: on its, that of the Dark Moon,
afterlife for the wicked; on hers, the opposite, the White Moon. When Jol wakens, he rescues the victim by injuring the Rapax with Rage--holy fire bequeathed by the White Moon. He is tired and in shock. When he is joined by the victim's twin brother Cat, a mage who sensed her danger, they take her to Cat's healer friend. The victim is dying, and the healer, due to pregnancy, cannot use magic. Cat leaves to find another healer while Jol rests.

When Jol wakes, Cat's friend is dead and the Rapax wears Cat's sister's skin, thus hidden from Rage. As it tortures Jol, Jol uses his ability to touch the concealed Rapax, then he uses Rage to kill it. Ill, Jol does not bury the bodies before Cat returns, and Cat breaks down from grief. Feeling responsible, Jol stays to help Cat recover.

In the following weeks, Jol discovers the Rapax's torture has destroyed his ability to use Rage. Worse, every time he sleeps, he is forced out of body to sites of other Rapax attacks. One Rapax and its skinflier--a toothy, stingray-like pet--sense Jol during these visitations: the Rapax tastes its father's magic in Jol's skin; the skinflier smells a Moon tattoo Jol can't see. Once Cat is better, Jol leaves and tries to repress everything but the desire to reach the courts--until this Rapax leaves one victim alive. Jol rushes to the rescue. It is a trap. He is captured and tortured for revenge. The Rapax also conducts its father's Moon-people experiments on Jol, never seeing the White Moon on its own forehead.

Zel, the Rapax's apprentice and helper in Jol's torture, reveals herself to a half-crazed Jol as an undercover Predator seeking to destroy all Rapax. Her rescue attempt of Jol fails, and as the Rapax prepares Zel for slaughter, Jol knows he must kill it. One magic is left to him, but it will strip him of his old dreams, of his old self. No choice. Jol stabs the Rapax and uses its blood to burn it, thus becoming a Rapax himself. It escapes, injured, but Zel lives.

Jol runs--from Cat who wants to heal him, from Zel whom he distrusts but Cat loves, but mostly from himself--and he stumbles into his past: his estranged, knight father. Father seeks an heir to train, a son he never told Jol about. When Cat finds Jol, Jol feels hope again.
Cat has a spell that can locate people, and once Cat locates his brother, Jol believes he can build a new life with his father and brother.

Zel's arrival later is less welcome; she needs Cat to locate her missing, adoptive father, whom she believes is in danger. Despite knowing Father's impatience and the great time and magic needed to ready the spell, Jol tells Cat to find Zel's father first. This causes Jol's father to depart, accusing Jol of deterring him out of pettiness. Meanwhile, Cat's spell uncovers Zel's father--dead.

Unwilling to give up on family, Jol combines his ability with Cat's spell to find and see his brother. Instead, he sees a sister: Zel. Father will never accept a daughter when he desires a knight heir, and he will never accept Jol, an imperfect son. At last, Jol sees his father as a chaser of ideals not reality. At last, Jol sees his father in himself: because of what she did, Jol cannot accept Zel either. She leaves unenlightened, and Jol leaves to forget her and
his past.

Neither Zel nor the Moons forget him. The White Moon reveals the world is dying. A White Moon-person must Choose how it will be reborn--and die for it. The Dark Moon desires to control the Choice. Jol learns he bears both Moons' marks and that both Moons seek to
influence him, because, thanks to the first Rapax's selective killing spree, Jol must make the Choice. If he refuses, the second Rapax--Zel's mentor--is next in line. Though Jol does not want to die, it is a way to do good, to die with a clean soul.

Before Jol can journey to the Choosing place, Zel captures him. She claims the Dark Moon uses him and gifts him with unholy abilities, and the only way to stop the Dark Moon's desire for destruction is to prevent it from choosing another. She refuses to listen to Jol, so he
attacks her to escape. She dodges, and he rips off her headband instead. Beneath lies the tattoo of the Dark Moon, and Jol understands: so afraid of the Dark Moon's corruption, she doesn't see she is already corrupted.

She imprisons Jol in living stone.

Now, Jol has ample time to reflect--on the people and beings who betrayed and used him, on lost dreams, on identity. He has been choiceless all his life, and he decides, when he escapes, he will be the one making the choices.

You're awash in detail here. When you create a new world, you have to give us enough context to pick up or understand the unfamiliar, but not have so much that it’s overwhelming. This was overwhelming for me; admittedly some of that is cause I don’t read the genre enough to recognize the basic vocabulary. What the hell is a mage anyway?

You’re doing the basic Quest format here. You can simply tell us who the hero is, and what his dilemma is and who opposes him, the culmination and resolution of the conflict. All the other stuff like the signs of the moons is detail that probably makes sense in the book but is extraneous here.


Dave Kuzminski said...

Message for Bonnie: If you didn't solve the puzzle, I am Spartacus. ;)

Sonarbabe said...

Miss Snark: A "mage" is a magic user; ie: wizard or sorcerer. Having played my fair share of Dungeons & Dragons, I'm familiar with the term. Hope that helps you, Great Snark-a-licious One!

Anonymous said...

Why so much fantasy, sci-fi, paranormal? Are those markets more wide open than other genres? I feel for those writing synopses for the extra-terrestial categories. In addition to telling a story, you have to create an entire new world in fewer than a 1,000 words. Good luck to you in the other worlds.

Anonymous said...

Yep, mage is a common term in fantasy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your critique. It is spot on and I never considered the Quest type layout for this synopsis. Thanks again!

Rick said...

Probably far too late for the author to notice this comment, but is it a good idea - even in fantasy - to name a male character "Cat?" The intent here may be feline, but as a name it makes me think Catherine, which could be a bit jarring!