HH Com 135

Sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In DARK HEIR, a completed 104,000 word fantasy, a backward world struggles with such magic, as a damaged sentient computer from a bygone technological age gives potent but flawed supernatural powers to certain individuals.

Your hook starts here:
Katirin is a princess of inconvenient parentage, confined to a convent to nullify her claim on the throne. When she discovers that the unworldly priestesses of the convent are really drones of the ancient computer - which is winding out of control and will eventually claim the minds of the entire kingdom - Katirin decides that she would rather save her nation than rule it.

Cementing her family's disapproval by fleeing both convent and country, Katirin strives to find and destroy the computer - an object she barely understands. The only person willing to help her is Arkadiy, prince of an enemy state, and the price he demands is that Katirin turn both traitor and assassin for him. More distressingly, his assistance consists of lending her the services of another of the computer's creations, a powerful but unstable "wizard" named Lethan, who seems more interested in learning to use the artifact than destroying it. Katirin will have to battle Lethan to keep him from protecting the object he helped her find.

As Katirin fights to save the nation she loves more than her own fierce ambitions, she must decide how much evil she will do in the name of accomplishing one act of good.

You've got the form down right once you dump the first paragraph. I'm not well versed enough in this genre to know if this has been done to death. I do know that the writing isn't compelling enough to make me want to read on. Part of that is that you've got long ass sentences. Short is good for building momentum. You don't need to be Hemingway or dog forbid James Ellroy, but full stops are our friends. (this bit of Brit punctuation speak brought to you by Eats, Shoots, and Leaves)


Anonymous said...

This could be good. A lot depends on how the author's style holds up, how well she/he handles the political angle etc.

If you're doing the 'technological gone to magic' I hope you've read Gene Wolfe to death.

Also, if you've got a reluctant heir, a new twist might be that they actually not end up on the throne.

The only other possible (brand new!) cliche is the assassin as protaganist. This would also have to be done well to distinguish from, say, Robin Hobb.

Otherwise there's something promising here. Fantasy is often - like sci-fi - taking ideas others have used and jamming them together or trying something new with them. There's nothing here that suggests the author couldn't manage that. There's a bit o' frisson from the use of some of these conventions put together in the hook.

ver word - pcnskjp - A swedish dessert made using stale pecan pies.

Anonymous said...

First sentence: say Arthur C. Clarke. I hope you intend to credit him, because any agent would know that one.

Anonymous said...

James Ellroy *is* dog!

chimeralife said...

Wasn't this one also right in the beginning? just reworked? I am positive I read it recently and it was advised get rid of the name dropping.

It does make more sense this time, however.

HawkOwl said...

I don't think you've changed one word since it was on EE, so really the only comment I have is that I don't understand why you're asking for opinions at all.

Anonymous said...

I think it sounds really interesting although I would agree this needs work.

Good luck with it.


katiesandwich said...

I like it!

Writerious said...

If you're going to quote Arthur C. Clarke, make sure you get the quote precisely right and credit the source:

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

Anonymous said...

"Arkadiy" --another fantasy character whose name this editor can't pronounce.

The d-i-y at the end relentlessly invites me to read it as Do It Yourself, but then I watch those kinds of shows. Lose the i and I might want to see this.

PS, tell the Princess Assassin to ask the computer "Why?" It worked for Captain Kirk and on The Prisoner.

wonderer said...

Sounds like numerous episodes of Star Trek (the original series), but maybe it's more like Fools Errant, which is different enough to be interesting.

Angus Weeks said...

I'm amazed that Miss Snark didn't mention here's another bad guy with a Russian name (Arkadiy).

(not to be taken as a comment on the hook itself, as it's not my genre)

Anonymous said...

Well, understand the long sentence structure, as I fell into the same mode when I was writig mine. I's easier to cram more information into the hook that way. I guess mine's gonna get the same reaction. It's too bad, because my writing isn't like that, and I assume yours isn't either. I wonder if all agents will object to that.

wonderer said...

Oh, and it's not fantasy, it's science fiction or possibly science fantasy.

Anonymous said...

"a completed 104,000 word fantasy". Wow, that's twice as long as anything I've ever written. And why didn't I think to say in my hook that my book was completed? What a great selling point!

Ok, sorry, I couldn't help myself there. I like the idea of "magic" which actually turns out to be forgotten technology, though - makes a nice change from magic which turns out to be magic.

shannon said...

Well, fantasy is my genre, especially the new breed, with fewer swords.

I got a very clear idea of what this story is about, but it also seemed a bit boring. I know a cover blurb wouldn't be so revealing, but as someone who reads the slush pile, I would probably only glance at this one.

I'd say you've worked this over so many times you've lost the passion and flair that you started with. It's tough, I know, but as it stands I don't care about Katirin. Perhaps you could try narrowing the focus, with less time spent on beginning-middle-end synopsis.

klschaub said...

Reminds me of Sharon Shinn's Samaria stories -- the angels learn they are keyed to "speak" with the colony ship that brought people to that planet, not god, as legend has told them.

Elektra said...

chimeralife, perhaps you read it over at the baby COM? It was there about a week ago, where a few commenters said the quote+attribute sounded too much like name-dropping.

Anonymous said...

:: glurk ::

Your setup - not your plot, not nearly your plot - is nearly exactly the one I'm working with in my WIP.


j h woodyatt said...

Agree that first paragraph needs to go. Also, it might be a computer, but the characters in your world almost certainly don't call it that. I'm not seeing why the princess has to choose between saving and ruling her nation, and I don't get why I should care. Also, an unstable quote-wizard-unquote is pretty damned clich├ęd. By the time I got to "Katirin will have to battle Lethan to keep him from protecting the object he helped her find" my head exploded.

whitemouse said...

Thank you, Miss Snark and commenters! This was a very helpful process and I do appreciate everyone's opinions and honesty.

I'm sorry for not thanking you sooner, but I've been frolicking in the surf for the past two weeks. The fishies wouldn't lend me their internet. :-)