The Queen’s Pawn by R.J. Hore
Genre: Medieval Fantasy
Published: April 2013 by Burst Books
Format/Source: eBook through Blog Tour
Young Harow just wanted to stay on the farm for the rest of his life, but his mother insisted he go to school in the City to study to be a priest. Now the City is in flames and he is racing across unfamiliar countryside trying to get the mysterious and sensuous Queen Reginee and her extremely annoying and very spoiled daughter Desiree-Rose to safety. Of course there is a rebel army hot on their heels, black wizardry afoot, and sundry and dangerous creatures and villains, monstrous and common, seductive or evil, lurking along the way. If this were not enough for the youth to worry about, the Queen’s amorous chambermaid and bodyguard Mathilde, a smallish giantess, just wants to get him alone.
The hood of the riding cloak fell back and Harow stared into the bright blue eyes of a young man, scarcely older than himself. The stranger’s face was streaked with dirt and dried blood, and the stubble of a pale beard graced his firm chin. For a moment Harow felt a shock of recognition, the fellow lying on the street before him was an almost mirror image of himself. Then he noticed the slow stream of red blood oozing out from beneath the rich cloak, through the silk shirt of a nobleman, turning the grey stones to a dark crimson.
The man shook Harow’s robe, pulling him lower and snapping the farm youth from his reverie. “You must get through to the Palace … You must tell Queen Reginee that the King is dead … He fell on the banks of the Fortune River … They overran us there … We were betrayed …”
The words ended in a whisper and the iron grip relaxed on robe and ankle. Harow stood up, wondering. He was about to continue on his mad run when the noble spoke out feebly again, and reluctantly, Harow bent down to hear.
“Are you a Royalist, man…? I have not time for idle talk, just listen!” The stranger seemed to dip into an inner well of hidden strength. “I have a message for the Queen. It is in my secret pouch, secure within the arm of my riding cloak … Take my cloak … And take my gold medallion and this signet ring.” He gestured weakly at his chest. “These will identify you to the palace guards and they will pass you through.” His fingers closed on Harow’s throat. “Take the message to the Queen only! Swear it!” The grip of iron relaxed slightly.
“I swear,” mumbled Harow, standing up slowly and making the sign of the two bull’s horns across his chest. “By Saint Devlin of the Green Mountain and the holy relics of the Hall of Haldenmeade, I swear I will deliver your message to the Queen.” As he mouthed the words, he had no idea why he spoke them.
The man no longer moved. Reaching down, Harow touched the silent stranger’s cheek with the tip of his finger. He felt no sign of life. Harow stood up straight and stared about, blinking like a newborn with his first glimpse of the sun. He stood alone in a dim and shadowed narrow laneway. The sounds of fighting and the cries of the terrified citizens floated to him from just beyond the near row of high stone buildings. Clouds of smoke rose up to hide the sky and he easily imagined the crackling, snapping sound of angry flames feeding on oak beams and dry cedar shingles. Harow wet his lips and took a step around the cooling corpse.
“I will do my penance later,” he whispered to the body sprawled on the ground, “but right now I do not think the Queen is interested in receiving messages from a farm boy.”
Harow, a farm boy who has been sent to the city to become a priest, is flung into a tumbling adventure to help the queen and her companions escape from the city now overrun by rebels. He is naive, trusting, and really only wishes to be back home on the farm.
The entire story is one long journey. The characters are constantly on the move, triumphing and being thwarted throughout. Sometimes the journey threatened to wear out the reader as well, but it never reached that point.
The Queen’s Pawn was very enjoyable. While it is being marketed as medieval fantasy, I really think that this is a book that could definitely be enjoyed by the young adult audience. It reminds me of some of the stories I used to read in middle school. I would highly recommend it for that audience.
Hore created an intriguing world. It’s high fantasy–with a strange world with kings and queens, barbarians, peasants, strange occurrences and strange creatures. The characters follow a religion that mimics Catholicism with numerous saints that has the potential to add so much depth to the story. In fact, I really did find myself wanting to learn a lot more about the world. It has the potential to have the depths of perhaps A Song of Ice and Fire. With the political issues and the different regions of the world, the story had the potential to have a much grander scope. The characters sometimes lacked something to me; I wanted to better understand and know them. Some of the ambiguity was annoying, however, again it would be suited for a young adult story.
I definitely enjoyed it as a story reminiscent of the old high fantasy stories I have read many years ago.
My rating: 3/5
You must know the correct market for the short story or novel you have written. I have met with many publishers who moan about finding manuscripts sent to them that bear no relationship to what their firm publishes. The old advice used to be: Go to the library, write down the names of publishers who publish works similar to what you are creating, and submit to them. You can still start there, but now there is another step. With the coming of the internet you have a great tool. Use it wisely. Look up those publishers’ websites, look under “submissions” and READ THE SECTION CAREFULLY! I cannot stress this enough.
Not only will the submissions section tell you what kind of work they will publish, but they will tell you if the publisher is looking for new manuscripts, and usually what they are NOT looking for. Read the rules carefully, because each publisher is different. They will clearly state what they want to receive and the format they want it in. For example: they may want a cover letter, a synopsis and three chapters emailed to them. They may want to see the entire manuscript. They may want it set out a certain way, and they might even want it by snail-mail. If you do not follow their rules, remember, they may receive hundreds of submission in a month, and they are looking for an excuse not to have to read yours. So if you decide to ignore their request, it will probably never get past the initial rejection pile.
Cover letters are important. They may want to know about your writing credentials, what you have previously published. They may ask about your Business Plan to promote the book if they publish it. If nothing else, a well-written cover letter shows the initial reader that at least you can write reasonably well. If they get past the letter, the next step is to look at your synopsis. This is an outline of the complete story, with NOTHING HIDDEN. If there is a surprise twist at the end, reveal it. A synopsis is usually one or two pages, written in complete sentences. This is another test to see if you can write and follow rules. If they ask for a synopsis of up to five pages, double-spaced, don’t send them six.
Often you will come across publishers who advise they only accept submissions from agents. This indicates that they are bored to tears reading some of the drivel that comes their way and they want someone else to do the initial weeding. The problem is, finding an agent is like finding a publisher. Each agency specializes in certain types of books, and let’s face it, agents only get paid if they sell a book, so they want established authors or that million seller.
Wherever you send your manuscript, follow the house rules carefully, and good luck!
About the Author:
A reader of genre fiction since a very early age, got down to serious attempts at writing over thirty years ago, although employment kept getting in the way. I did write a considerable amount of non-fiction during my business career, enough to be listed as a professional writer by the Canadian Authors Association.
Hobbies include trying to keep on the good side of my wife, keeping track of my children and grandchildren, and wrestling the blasted cat off of the keyboard. In my diminishing spare time I sail on Lake Winnipeg and try not to get lost.
Through BURST Books, writing as R.J.Hore, I have a medieval fantasy tale of murder and intrigue entitled “The Dark Lady” that came out in February 2012 and a fantasy detective story in December 2012 called “Housetrap”. Housetrap is the first in a series of novellas under the The Housetrap Chronicles. Three others in the series are already scheduled for publication: “Dial M for Mudder” in July 2013, “The House on Hollow Hill” in September 2013, and “Hounds of Basalt Ville” in November 2013. I have another medieval novella “Knight’s Bridge” in March 2013, and a full length novel, again a medieval fantasy, “The Queen’s Pawn,” in April 2013.
I also have a large stack of completed manuscripts in various stages ranging from a “What If” — the North Americans discovered Europe first, set in 1215AD – to a contemporary bickering married couple swept away to an alternative universe, and a futuristic tale of a lady archeologist set in outer space. Working on sequels for “The Dark Lady.