Flash Fiction, Wheel of Osheim Contest

Flash Fiction. Defined by Wikipedia as a style of fiction of extreme brevity. There is no official rules but most people consider it to be somewhere between 50 and 1000 words.

I decided to write my first piece of flash fiction yesterday when I came across The Wheel of Osheim Writing Contest on the unofficial Mark Lawrence blog. The rules are simple. Write a story no longer than 300 words, including the word Life and Death at least once. The contest ends on 11th of April and the final prize is a copy of The Wheel of Osheim.

FlashFict

I finished the first draft of my homage to monster hunting action stories the other day. Unfortunately not in time to submit it to the Baen Fantasy contest it was  originally intended for. It’s currently sitting in its cozy digital folder waiting for the editing passes. I will get those done in a few days. I have some good ideas on how I plan on adapting it and changing it around a bit. But first I have to let it rest.

Because I had some free time I knocked out an entry for the above contest. I didn’t see any rules about sharing it so you can read it below. The limited flash fiction format is rather challenging and made for a great exercise.  I suggest anybody interested in writing to give the format a try.

 

The Beautiful Sound of Children

Gregor gasped for air. The choking stench of rot and burning flesh filling his lungs. He willed his swollen eyes open seeing greasy columns of smoke rising up towards flaming sky. Carrion birds circled, eyeing their pray.
“I’m alive,” he whispered.
The last thing he remembered was the charge. Thousands of men, sword and spears crashing into each other. He remembered running. Blinded by rage and violence. Sargent William next to him, always brave. The blue eagle standard streaming form his spear. It was going to be a glorious battle. A battle sung about for ages.
He tried to sit up but only managed to roll on his side. No feeling in his legs yet the slightest movement caused excruciating pain. He was able to see the horror that surrounded him. Corpses of friend and foe blanketed the battlefield. The moans of the dying rose up, only to be interrupted by the screech of impatient vultures.
William lay near. Open eyes filled with fear. A gruesome gash opening his belly.
“We lost,” he managed to say between labored breaths. “We failed our Queen.”
Gregor heard the laughter of children. Was this the madness of death he wondered. No, it was real. A pair golden haired children made their way through the piles of dying. Salvation Gregor thought, this was it, the Goddess of life smiled upon them. He saw Williams eyes light up with hope.
Gregor watched a child go to William smiling. She reached into her satchel bringing out a sharp stone. A stone she violently smashed into the side of Williams head.
Gregor heard the dull crunch of skull as he reeled away from the violence. Nauseous with fear he tried to crawl away. Above him stood the second child, playfully laughing as he swung his stone.

 

 

 

Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1)

prince of fools

“I’m a liar and a cheat and a coward, but I will never, ever, let a friend down. Unless of course not letting them down requires honesty, fair play, or bravery.” -Jalan

I finished 2014 by reading and thoroughly enjoying The Broken Empire Trilogy so I thought it fitting to start 2015 with Mark Lawrence’s latest book Prince of Fools. After finishing it I can safely say that Prince of Fools is a fantastic piece of Fantasy and so far the best book by Mark Lawrence.  I enjoyed his previous work but with PoF Mark really nails dark fantasy, great characters, and exciting adventure.

Prince of Fools(The Red Queen’s War) tells the story of Prince Jalan Kendeth, a lecherous, skirt chasing, boozing, immoral, coward. Jalan is the 10th grandson of the ferocious and powerful Red Queen of the March and with so many relatives ahead of him he spends his days debauching and running up debts. But his days of shiftlessness abruptly end when he inadvertently attracts the attention of the Silent Sister, a mysterious hidden woman rumored to be the power behind the Red Queen. Dark Magic, rumor of undead raids in the North, a ill fated opera, slave fighting pits, and Jalan somehow ends up magically bound to a ferocious Viking named Snorri Ver Snagason. Together they set out towards the frozen undead infested north to break the spell binding them and avenge Snorri’s people.

Lawrence nailed the characters in this book. Jalan is a cowardly, selfish, and immoral, but extremely sympathetic. He lives in a brutal violent world and the rationalization he gives for his actions all make sense. Why be a hero when hero’s get easily killed, a sword kills a hero just as fast as it does a farmer. Why put your life on the line when you can spend it drinking and whoring. His counterpart Snorri is a fanatical Viking, a fearless killing machine bound by honor. As a team Snorri and Jalan balance each other making their friendship and adventure a fantastic read.

What puts this book over the top of awesome for me was the fact that at it’s core Prince of Fools is a old school fantasy adventure, two men traveling on a quest, chased by necromancers, witches, bandits, through a brutal unforgiving world. It’s exactly the kind of story that got me into fantasy in the first place but put through the dirty lens of 21st century grimdark Lawrence style.

The Liars Key (Red Queens War #2) is scheduled for June 2nd of this year and I can’t wait. I would gamble the locket holding the only picture of my mother to get my hands on this book early.