Fan Input: Excerpt 1

As I work on finishing the edits on The Squire and the Slave Master, I’ve decided to try some things I didn’t do with the release of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I’m going to post pieces of information about the book, and ask people to give me their opinion.

To start, I’m thinking of using this as my first excerpt. What do you think? Do you like it? Hate it? What works/doesn’t work? Is it too long/too short/just right? Any information you want to give me helps. Thanks.

Mock Cover

Promotional image only.

Excerpt 1:

Yara’s mother, her long, brown hair, much like her daughter’s, but streaked with grey, entered the stables. She looked around and must have sensed the remaining hostility. She put her hand on the man’s shoulder. “Oh, Pavit, you didn’t try to tell Yara her place in the world again, did you?”

“Now Kamala, you know—”

“Yes he did, Mother. And do you know what’s worse? He wants to arrange my marriage. And even worse, he wants to go back to the time of slavery.” Yara tried to scowl at him, but she felt a smile break through.

“Now, I never even suggested that.”

“Yara, honey,” her mother said, smiling as well, “a messenger from the castle’s here to see you.”

“Agh! Right now?” She dripped with sweat and smelled like horse manure. “What could the castle possibly want with me? Can he come back another time?”

Her mother turned to leave. “I think you need to see what he wants.”

Yara picked up the hammer and horseshoe and placed them on the workbench, brushed some of the soot and dirt from her clothes, and took the coif from her hair. She never worried about her appearance, but her hair was uncomfortably matted to her head. When she untied it and fanned it out, it stretched nearly to her waist. It felt much better free.

Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man, a few years younger than she, who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred. She sprinted and threw herself into his arms.

“Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?” She rubbed his beard stubble.

“Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

Yara’s face grew warm. She couldn’t imagine how much filth must cover her. She didn’t care to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—Owen and Yara used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

“Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?