Here are the first 400 words of Child of the Mist (Gem of the Galaxy) by Kae Cheatham.
No more running away, the young woman thought as she jogged through the dense forest. Her quiet pace was matched by a young ocsoni with silky black hair springing several centimeters over its dense fur. This time I’m running to something. My destiny, perhaps.
I’m new to this story and this world, and I like how the author plops me into it here, instead of explaining what an ocsoni is. I would like a little more description of it, but I’m sure that will come. Right now I’ve got a jaguar image in my mind, with some kind of long hair on the head like a main or something.
I’m not in love with this thing a lot of authors do, and that’s starting off with this distanced POV. Since were in the young woman’s POV, just say her name instead of ‘the young woman’. That pulls me in closer, and I like to know whose head I’m in as I read.
Leaves of saplings cloaked her while she negotiated the path around house-sized trunks of mature trees; large leaves blocked light from the late afternoon sky, keeping the forest cool. She didn’t carry much: a small pot for water, a solbey plate to cook on, a warming net for cold nights, an extra pair of leggings and boots. For weapons: a sheathed knife—the blade as long as her forearm—and a whiprod she had taken off the guard she killed when she escaped one-hundred-and-thirty days ago. Running. Hiding. Stopping long enough to have that awful baby, and then…
Oh my, she had a baby and then what? Did she leave it somewhere? She called it awful, and that’s a bit disturbing to me. I know this is fiction, and no real baby is in danger. But it’s still disturbing to me, and it makes me not like the main character. I’ll keep reading, but with a frown on my face.
Continual anger churned through her. No more running. I’ve ruined their plans, and now I’ll attend the business I was born to. This her continual thought without a concept for success.
Personally, I’d rather be shown the anger here, instead of told that anger churned through her. She could clench her fists or her teeth, or narrow her eyes. Or we could gather the anger from the other things that she’s thinking.
“We must be close to the wall,” she quietly said to her furry companion. “I don’t know what I’ll do with you when I go inside, but…” She pushed back a tendril of poorly-cut hair. When her sable locks became more than a finger’s length, she hacked them off and muttered, “For you, mother.” The childish look this gave her totally belied her intense nature.
I like how the author describes her hair here. I’m wondering why she cut her hair for her mother though.
Her pup companion slowed, neck hairs up and nose testing the wind. She stopped, also sniffing the breeze. Nothing. Fear skittered along her slender limbs. Faucrin Rudeg’s henchmen could be waiting in ambush. She fingered the hilt of her knife while studying her surroundings. In the dense foliage and shoulder-high mushrooms sprouting between trees, the only sign was of a bush fox recently passed. “They can’t possibly know where I am,” she murmured to the pup as she stroked its head. She was certain the Xirophans wouldn’t relinquish her to her government. Many tribes had hidden her from the Rudegs. The last tribe had given her a map—told her about the way in.
Ah, a pup. So this is more like a dog creature. I like the descriptions here. Nice job.
The ocsoni, still tense, whined and strained to dash forward as she tied the pup’s shoulder harness to a thick sapling. She removed her pack and secured it out of his reach. “Stay, Ton,” she ordered. With whiprod fastened to her purple jerkin, she stealthily climbed fifty meters into the dense canopy and leapt from one tree to the next, barely ruffling the huge leaves.
I am interested in what she’s going to do here, but I still have a bad taste in my mouth from the woman talking about her baby in that way. I assume since she was in prison, she was mistreated and that’s why she is talking this way about her child. But a baby is innocent and shouldn’t be punished for whatever happened before it was born.
I think the descriptions flowed nicely, and the beginning had no boring back story, so I applaud the author for this. My one big concern is that the baby got left somewhere to die. And if I were to guess, that child would show up again somewhere later in the book... probably angry. Overall, the writing is fairly clean with only a few nit picks on my part. I think the author did a good job.
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