We've had some hellish weather in Canada and the States, so I hope everyone is safe and sound. With any luck spring and gentler weather will soon have arrived in most of the northern hemisphere. Until then, keep safe, and keep writing and submitting. And when you make those sales, we want to hear from you!
Why the Editor's Choice reviews are so great: because they include advice like this, from this month's fantasy review: "Put [the protagonist] in the driver's seat, in other words, and allow him to chase the plot rather than having the plot chase him."
As always, contact us if you have any questions, publication announcements, or ideas for improving the OWW Newsletter.
Maria Zannini, newsletter editor
newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com
I've been taking karate. I'm also fascinated by settings, such as Hogwarts, boot camp, and elite ballet schools, that involve some kind of training. It might be interesting to write a story about the interactions between beings involved in some kind of school, whether or not the training they receive is combat related.
Remember: Challenges are supposed to be fun, but don't forget to stretch yourself. If you normally write fantasy, try SF. If you've never tried space opera, here's your chance. It doesn't have to be great. It's all about trying new things. There's no word limit, no time limit, no nothin'. Just have fun.
Challenges can be suggested by anyone and suggestions should be sent to Maria (newsletter (at) onlinewritingworkshop.com). This month's challenge brought to you by Elizabeth Porco.
The Editors' Choices are chosen from the submissions from the previous month that show the most potential or otherwise earn the admiration of our Resident Editors. Submissions in four categories--science fiction chapters, fantasy chapters, horror, and short stories -- receive a detailed review, meant to be educational for others as well as the author.
This issue's reviews are written by Resident Editors Karen Meisner, Elizabeth Bear, and Karin Lowachee. The last four months of Editors' Choices and their editorial reviews are archived on the workshop. Go to the "Read, Rate, Review" page and click on "Editors' Choices."
Congratulations to the current Editors' Choice authors!
BY DARKNESS REVEALED, first chapter, by Kevin McLaughlin
The opening chapters of By Darkness Revealed suggest a promising contemporary fantasy in an unusual setting--a military college. Our protagonist (the aptly named Blackwell) is a freshman. He suffers a small mishap that reveals his Pagan religious faith, which brings him to the attention of upperclassmen. Harassment and hazing ensue.
But--this being a fantasy--Blackwell does have some powers. He can see ley lines and do a little simple runic magic, and it turns out that someone else on campus is using black magic to injure other cadets...
The first scene in this is what really caught my attention. It's quite well written and crisp, establishing our protagonist and his adversaries with good tension and an immediate confrontation. I'd like to see more sensory detail--Blackwell is doing pushups in the rain when we meet him, and while there are a few sound effects (the clink of the necklace that reveals him), that's a profoundly sensory experience and a fantastic opportunity to ground the reader in the setting.
I do want to reinforce that there is good immediacy in this scene--it's instantly engaging and interesting. But the author is missing opportunities to make the reader feel the narrative. Rather than simply having the narrator complain of being underdressed for the weather, it would be a simple matter to allow him to complain about the chafe of his wet t-shirt and shorts, or the chill that makes his teeth chatter when he tries to answer the drill sergeant's questions, or the distraction of the rain running down his face.
Also, there's very little in the way of setting detail--I have only the vaguest idea of what this campus looks like. I know the library is red brick and the hallway walls are painted an eggshell color, and I very much like the way those details are embedded in the narrative--but when a writer uses that tactic of only mentioning details in passing, it's important to find opportunities to seat them into enough places that readers have a sense of place, of being grounded.
I'm also concerned by the fact that the characters are hard to distinguish from one another. There's one very good bit of description early on: Drill Sergeant Fletcher is introduced with just the right amount of detail. But after that very good first scene, the writing tends to wander off into summary and telling rather than narrative and dramatization. The author does not need to dramatize everything, but what's summarized here feels very generic. Rather than unidentified hard-staring classmates, it might be more effective to expend the same amount of space on a single glare from a person we'll meet again later.
Specific is almost always stronger than general. Especially when trying to build tension. As an example, I love the line where Blackwell's roommate says, "Sure. Now clean the door." That's strong and specific and establishes a relationship. The earlier sentences in that exchange of dialogue are more generic, unfortunately, and exist mainly to handle exposition. Throughout this piece, the expository dialogue is not a strength.
Also, this narrative is too driven by coincidence. The protagonist stumbles from one happenstance to another, and they all seem to tie into the mystery of Northshield's haunting and/or unusual concentration of ley lines. As a reader, I find this frustrating, and it does not make me feel that the writer is in control of the narrative--or that the protagonist is in control of his destiny. Because so much of a reader's enjoyment of a book is based in that sense of being in good hands, it's important for the author to project confidence.
That said, however, there's a lot of other stuff going on in here that I enjoy a great deal. I like the dawning mystery, and the constantly escalating level of conflict. I just want a less arbitrary chain of events leading Blackwell into that mystery, rather than the sense I have now, which is rather like a game master herding a recalcitrant player character toward the plot. Blackwell himself is a good protagonist, although I want more of his inner life--or at least more hints that it will be revealed in good time. What drives him to join the military and break with his family?
I also want him to be a little more clueful. He's so naïve that my suspension of disbelief suffers, and it suffers more when people seek him out to provide him with information in ways that reinforce that sense of coincidence. When he says, "Oh, I'm reinventing an old religion," it doesn't feel real to me, for one thing. In part that's because the dialogue is very on-the-nose, expository. It would feel more real to me if Blackwell (angry and defensive at the time) responded to the drill sergeant's questions with a comment like, "I'm a druid. It's one of the oldest religions still practiced. It originated in the British Isles in pre-Roman times."
It's not that the information that Blackwell is providing others (and vice-versa) is the wrong information--it's just that it sounds like exposition, not like anything a guy would say. Rather than just using that dialogue as an opportunity to infodump, consider the nuances in how those infodumps can also reveal character.
Part of the problem may be that I don't buy that anybody in modern America, post Buffy the Vampire Slayer, hasn't at least heard of Paganism in passing.
The simplest way to remedy most of these structural/expositional problems is through a tighter chain of causality. Rather than expositing at Blackwell, let him discover through positive action that the harassment and suspicion he's experiencing are because the school has a reputation for being haunted. (Possibly show us a haunting?) While researching an attack for which he's blamed, let him find out that there's another student who is practicing magic. And so on. Put him in the driver's seat, in other words, and allow him to chase the plot rather than having the plot chase him.
Author of THE SEA THY MISTRESS
DIGITAL GRIT, Chapter 18 by Steve Brady
This month's EC takes a common trope in science fiction -- the "computer" game that must be beat and its effects in the real world -- and peoples it with interesting characters, strong dialogue, and thoughtful discourse. It's not easy to make such a tired concept seem fresh, especially with a punk teenager as the main protagonist, along with a sentient AI, but as in any good speculative story, any tried and true idea can work if the writing and characterizations are strong enough and there is somehow a unique spin on it all.
What makes this chapter stand out is the easy flow of dialogue, the effective differentiation in character, and the great pacing. Sometimes this can also be a curse, though, as the spare narrative can lead to too much telling (especially as in the last paragraph of this chapter -- watch the overuse of "s/he felt" instead of somehow showing that), missed opportunities for describing the world, and going so fast that evolutions in the characters happen too quickly. For example:
The Bible seemed like a way to approach sobriety through the back door. When she did stop drinking, the AA literature became more interesting, and she attended meetings, but all this seemed secondary to getting all her self set on Christ.
The timeframe is confusing here -- did this happen already, or during the storyline? There's no real sense of that much time passing in the narrative. It might just be a matter of changing up the tenses.
Was she supposed to gain respect for her mother now? Instead Sara felt horror that the newcomers had somehow stolen her mind.
Sometimes the narrative is too thrifty and convenient, and could actually push the concepts further. When Mary Ann, Sara's mother, decides to embrace Christianity, what we get is a predictably cartoon image of a fundamentalist Bible-thumper, when a more nuanced approach could push the story to another level. Readers have seen the obsessed Christian -- and while this point-of-view is somewhat tempered by Eileen, one of the AA ladies, in a character that's important to the protagonist (Sara's mother), a chance at providing more depth in the dynamic is missed. Mary Ann can become devout and conflict with Sara without coming off so off-center.
Part of the reason this didn't read as realistically as it could have is because it all happens very quickly, and thus Mary Ann's "conversion" seems convenient and a little unbelievable. Take some time to show progression; it won't slow down the narrative or the action if it's important, pertinent information or essential scenes to expand character and plot. The pace is already pretty fast so nothing will be lost if there's a little expansion. Rather it will enrich the plot.
Their solemn faces showed the sort of pity that had never stood in the way of duty and wouldn't now.
There are some wonderful characterizations here, where not a lot is spent on descriptions and yet the point comes across very well through evocative language. In this way it's not thrifty, just accurate.
There is great skill in the dialogue. Often there aren't a lot of tags or attributions to the lines, and yet it never becomes confusing as to who is speaking because the content of the dialogue, and the voice, is so spot on -- whether it's between Sara and the AI, or Sara and Eileen, or any other group of characters. The dialogue always says what it needs to without being superfluous, and that adds to the clarity of who is speaking. The scene breaks often end with dialogue as well and the beats work -- there isn't a need to ramble on further when a good line does the job.
Despite this, though, there are some places where prosaic details could serve the narrative, if only to provide more color. Right now the "set" of the novel, in this encampment, is bare-bones and this is an opportunity missed. Giving more environmental details can serve to enhance both the story and the characters' states of mind. Language can be used to provide that extra layer of depth to a novel that isn't afraid to toss around conversations about religion, politics, and gender identity. For example:
Shaking, Mary Ann came to speak with her daughter. Sara's time on the stocks was almost up, and the weekend with the Game would follow. "Hi, Sara."
"Hi, mom. You must think I was way out of line."
And then it launches straight into a quick dialogue. While details don't need to be belabored, giving some indication of Sara's appearance, her tone of voice, maybe even Mary Ann's specific state of mind can give that extra layer. What kind of day is it, what if it were raining? How would the mood or basic physicality of the scene change under those circumstances? Make sure the reader isn't just imagining the characters moving through a blank grid. Create an entire world, especially as the book deals with another world anyway -- make both words as visceral as possible in character, action, and setting, and the book will be taken to new heights.
Author of THE GASLIGHT DOGS, BURNDIVE and CAGEBIRD
"Shadow" by B. Morris Allen
The premise of "Shadow" is that the story looks at a classic epic fantasy quest from unusual angles. Instead of following the main characters and storyline of that quest, we witness scenes from life around the edges of the action, featuring peripheral characters and the aftermath of the main events. Through a series of brief vignettes, we can piece together a general picture of what would typically be a stirring adventure story; but as witnessed through the negative space around that story, a different mood emerges.
First of all, I really like the premise. We've all seen this epic fantasy pattern so often that it's a pleasure to read a story which simply leaves out the obvious bits, and instead shows us glimpses of the familiar scenes from unfamiliar perspectives. I like the idea of bringing peripheral characters to the forefront, and of letting the story take shape this way. But the intriguing premise only takes us so far: the vignettes also need to tell a good story in and of themselves. To some extent this is working nicely: they set an effective mood, and there are some lovely bits of writing. Right now, they're still reading to me like a work in progress, a strong draft with the potential to become a really fine story.
One of my concerns is that without a key to explain how every scene relates to the classic quest happening offstage (let's call that the A-story), it's hard to see how some of these vignettes (let's call them the B-story) connect together. Of course part of the point here is that the A-story isn't central to many of these characters and landscapes who encounter it in passing. For the reader, though, it's still disorienting to see brief moments flash past without meaning attached. We get a general sense of important stuff happening beyond our view, but without knowing what that stuff is, we don't always know how to parse what we're reading. In some cases, this isn't a problem; the roaches and rats, for example, don't need to know anything about the events that led to bodies on the ground, and we understand their perspective perfectly well. In places, though, scenes seem needlessly oblique. Various parents and children are referred to, and it's sometimes unclear if or how they're related to one another and to the story. Since this is information those characters possess, withholding that information from the reader leaves me feeling shut out of an experience I'm supposed to be sharing with them. It's hard to feel engaged with characters when I don't quite understand who they are or what they're upset about. In other words, the reader needs to know more than the characters do about how their scenes are interconnected.
Another thing to look at is sentence structure: consider experimenting with more variety, especially in the opening sentences of each vignette. They're all good sentences, but they tend to settle into straightforward subject + predicate patterns. (Some include prepositional phrases leading in, but that's a basically cosmetic variation that doesn't change the underlying structure of "someone/something does X".) When we're reading so many small pieces in a row, it adds up to a steady rhythm that begins to feel repetitive. The vignettes can flow together in a much livelier way if each stands out more individually in the rhythms of its sentences. This is not a question of personal writing style, but about making the narrative work: each of these scenes involves entirely different life situations, and the prose can reflect and convey that. What if more scenes opened on a vivid description of the landscape, or a musing question on the character's mind, or a short sharp sentence fragment expressing an animal's sensory impression, or a philosophical statement about the way of life in this setting? Some of these moments take place in an atmosphere of frantic worry and rush; some in a mood of quiet isolation; some happen in the thick of the social world and others don't even involve humans.
The more distinct these vignettes feel to the reader, the better they'll make the point that the A-story affects a whole world of peripheral characters who have their own separate existences. What unites those disparate elements is the thread of A-story we glimpse weaving through them, pulling them together. I think the main challenge for the next draft is to strengthen our understanding of how that thread connects them all, while working on getting each segment to stand out as its own distinctive little picture.
A word of caution: avoid falling into cliché while winking at cliché! Of course plenty of epic fantasy deals in the derivative convention of "a wizard, an elf, and a knight" for every quest, and this story is clearly, as you say in your comments, "having fun with the classic requirements." The danger in working with such well-known material is that it tends to flavor your own story too heavily with those old corny stereotypes. If you're aiming to use the classic pattern as a jumping-off point for a more nuanced story, think about ways to play with those conventions and then break out into original territory. For example, a B-story character might overhear the A-story characters doing their thing in the main hall, and then move away down a little hallway where she's sweeping or whatever. Choreographing this sort of action could be a physical way to let the reader experience what the story's aiming for: literally, that movement away from the well-worn path into less well-charted territory. Can the language change as well? Do we begin in stereotypical high fantasy dialogue, with all the blustering and posturing and speechifying, then go to a place out of the spotlight where people are speaking in more down-to-earth ways? Think about how the narrative might use those clichéd moments as a starting base, and then move beyond them toward something new.
I hope this is helpful. I think you've got the basic framework for a really satisfying story here, with pieces that add up to a haunting picture of the detritus left behind in the wake of glory. I applaud the ambition and wish you luck with it.
--Karen Meisner, Editor, Strange Horizons
(No horror review this month.)
This month, we bring you Teresa Frohock, an OWW alumni whose novel, MISERERE: AN AUTUMN TALE comes out on July 1, 2011 from Night Shade Books. She shares some excellent advice in today's Author Reveal.
Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.
Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying.
Welcome, Teresa! Tell us a little about Miserere.
Miserere was first workshopped here on OWW as An Autumn Tale. It's the story of an exiled exorcist Lucian Negru, who deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina's soul, but Catarina doesn't want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates.
Alex Bledsoe, author of Dark Jenny and The Sword-Edged Blonde, really summed Miserere up from beginning to end: "Miserere is about redemption, and the triumph of our best impulses over our worst. It's also about swords, monsters, chases, ghosts, magic, court intrigues and battles to the death. It's also (and this is the important part) really, really good."
What was your first big writing break and how did it come about?
My big break came while I was editing Miserere. I had met Weronika Janczuk on Backspace: The Writer's Place when I was working on my query letter. A few weeks later, Weronika offered on her blog to assess the query and first ten pages of her followers' manuscripts. All I had to do was e-mail my submission package and she would respond with a critique.
In July of 2010, I began my submitting my query package to agents. One day on Twitter, Weronika announced that she had joined the D4EO Literary Agency as a literary agent. I didn't think there was a chance that she would remember me but she did, and she loved my writing and she loved Miserere.
Do you have a favorite editing tip you can share with us?
Yes, it's one I learned here from all the fabulous people who critique on OWW: keep your protagonist in the spotlight and ramp up the tension with every scene. Keep it tense and keep it tight.
I treat every chapter like an essay and ask myself: what do I need the reader to know in this chapter and how can I convey that information in the most entertaining way possible? So when I edit, I'm not just looking for typos and grammar issues, I'm watching for conflict. I can't have two characters just talking -- they must be discussing a matter integral to the plot, to the story, and it must tense.
Are you an outliner or a pantser? Tell us a little about your writing process.
I straddle the fence here. I have to work from a synopsis with three clearly delineated acts. It's difficult for me to complete a journey without a minimal roadmap. I have to know the events surrounding the story's beginning, the stakes I want to raise in the middle, and how I want the novel to end, all in a general way.
Of course, to me this is a living document, meaning I'm free to change things at any point. I need to know my characters, and this is the hardest part for me. I write biographies, I do research, and I make tables and often diagrams of the lay of the land. I probably spend more time planning than writing in the initial phase of a new manuscript. Then the writing is a snap.
What do you feel played a pivotal role in helping you achieve your goal of publication?
This is going to sound like such an advertisement, but it was OWW. If I had tried submitting the original draft of Miserere to agents when I first finished it, I would have been laughed out of the genre.
It wasn't easy taking criticism. As a matter of fact, after my first few critiques on OWW, I sat in front of my computer and cried. I absolutely swore I would never write another word. That lasted all of a day; then I realized what everyone was saying was right.
I had started Miserere in the wrong place -- I needed to begin with my protagonist. The prose was too purple. There were too many adjectives, the wrong words were used in places, and there were some major issues with the story. My climax rose, then flat-lined. I had to completely rewrite the second half of the book.
I was very lucky and a group of OWW members stuck with me from the beginning to the end of Miserere. They remain a vital part of my critique group now.
How would you describe your voice?
Dark and edgy. Those were the first words that Weronika used to describe my writing, and I loved it so much that I swore if anyone ever asked me to describe my writing, I was going with dark and edgy.
Is there anything you would have done differently in order to get published earlier or more easily?
No, there is absolutely nothing I would change. I needed every lesson I learned, every day that it took. The hardest thing was being patient, but I didn't let that manuscript go until I knew I had done all I could do to strengthen the story.
What advice (besides the great advice above!) would you give to new writers?
I could come up with a lot of pithy advice here, but I really think the two most important things are to remain teachable and to be patient.
Learn all you can, not just about writing but about storytelling techniques. I don't care if you use the three-act, five-act, or snowflake method, find a storytelling format that fits your writing style and use it. Never stop learning, never stop listening -- even when it's someone you don't agree with, there is a reason your prose stopped that individual long enough to comment. Take them seriously.
The other thing is to be patient and not start submitting too soon. Miserere would have died in the slush pile if I had submitted the original story. Take your time. Love your story enough to make it the best that it can be and it will stand out amongst all the others.
What's next on your publishing horizon?
Right now, I'm working through the first draft of a new novel that is tentatively entitled The Garden; although I believe that title will eventually change. I really needed a break from the Katharoi series so I could come back to it fresh, so The Garden is not part of the Katharoi series. It tells the story of Guillermo Ramírez, a blacksmith conscripted into King Pedro's army. Guillermo's story is set in Spain in 1348, and I don't want to say too much at this time, but it is also a combination of fantasy and horror.
After The Garden, I want to return to the next book in the Katharoi series, Dolorosa, which will be Rachael's story, followed by Bellum Dei, which will focus on Lindsay and the war between the bastions and the Fallen. I have a fourth book (as yet untitled) in line for the Katharoi series that will return the focus to Lucian.
Thank you, Maria, for giving me this opportunity! If readers want to keep up with me, they can follow my web site and blog at www.teresafrohock.com. You can also find me on Twitter and join me at my author page on Facebook.
Aliette de Bodard says: "Colin Harvey has accepted my short story 'The Axle of Heaven' for his anthology TRANSTORIES, published by Aeon Press. It's, er, more Chinese fantasy? Mostly inspired by a really late-night reading of Wolfram Eberhart Dictionary of Chinese Symbols."
David Busboom tells us: "I just wanted to spread the good news that my story 'Weird Tales' will appear in the July, 2011 issue of Shock Totem. This is my first professional sale. I've been an OWW member for a number of years now, and it has been extremely instrumental in my development as a writer. I'm sure this success would've taken much longer to achieve without the Workshop's help. Thank you."
Cécile Cristofari wrote: "I'm glad to announce that my story ‘Inril' got an honourable mention from Writers of the Future! Many, many thanks to Frances Snowder, Pete Aldin, Sarah Pinsker, Bill Blais and Ranke Lidyek; and a double dose of thanks to Jeremy Salisbury, who read it twice and had many helpful comments to offer afterwards! Thanks again for running that wonderful workshop. You rock!"
Maria Zannini announces: "It took two years to finish this book, but APOCALYPSE RISING, the sequel to TOUCH OF FIRE, will release May 9, 2011. APOCALYPSE RISING is published by Carina Press. My thanks to Mike Keyton, Dorothy Winsor, Margaret Fisk, and Sharon Ramirez for pushing me to give my best. No one could ask for better critters."
The Reviewer Honor Roll is a great way to pay back a reviewer for a really useful review. When you nominate a reviewer, we list the reviewer's name, the submission/author reviewed, and your explanation of what made the review so useful. The nomination appears in the Honor Roll area of OWW the month after you submit it, and is listed for a month. You can nominate reviewers of your own submissions or reviewers of other submissions, if you have learned from reading the review. Think of it as a structured, public "thank you" that gives credit where credit is due and helps direct other OWWers to useful reviewers and useful review skills.
Visit the Reviewer Honor Roll page for a complete list of nominees and explanatory nominations.
April 2011 Honor Roll Nominees
Reviewer: Heidi Garrett
Submission: The Betrayal -- chap 1 - 3 by Anita Romero
Submitted by: Anita Romero
Reviewer: Sharon Roest
Submission: Crow Man (Working Title) by Matthew James
Submitted by: Matthew James
Reviewer: Darryl Knickrehm
Submission: Rake and Sally by Kyle Kenyon
Submitted by: Kyle Kenyon
Reviewer: Christina Bertani
Submission: RESONANCE, Chapter 2 by Peter Mackey
Submitted by: Peter Mackey
Reviewer: F. Wilde
Submission: Doing Time - Prologue by Darrell Newton
Submitted by: Darrell Newton
Reviewer: Kari Cooper
Submission: Infection v2 Part 1 of 2 by Matthew James
Submitted by: Matthew James
Reviewer: Jay Reynolds
Submission: Luckseller (revised) by F. Wilde
Submitted by: F. Wilde
Reviewer: Darryl Knickrehm
Submission: The Cotswolds by Jeff Justis
Reviewer: Paul Donnelly
Submission: The Cotswolds by Jeff Justis
Submitted by: Jeff Justis
Reviewer: Kim Allison
Submission: Scout Lake by Dustin Walker
Submitted by: Wendy Aughenbaugh
Reviewer: F. Wilde
Submission: Maison d'Etre by B. Morris Allen
Submitted by: B. Morris Allen
Reviewer: B. Morris Allen
Submission: The Lion Where it Dwells by David Rees-Thomas
Submitted by: David Rees-Thomas
THE WINDS OF KHALAKOVO by Bradley P. Beaulieu (Night Shade Books, April 2011)
Among inhospitable and unforgiving seas stands Khalakovo, a mountainous archipelago of seven islands, its prominent eyrie stretching a thousand feet into the sky. Serviced by windships bearing goods and dignitaries, Khalakovo's eyrie stands at the crossroads of world trade. But all is not well in Khalakovo. Conflict has erupted between the ruling Landed, the indigenous Aramahn, and the fanatical Maharraht, and a wasting disease has grown rampant over the past decade. Now, Khalakovo is to play host to the Nine Dukes, a meeting which will weigh heavily upon Khalakovo's future.
When an elemental spirit attacks an incoming windship, murdering the Grand Duke and his retinue, Prince Nikandr, heir to the scepter of Khalakovo, is tasked with finding the child prodigy believed to be behind the summoning. However, Nikandr discovers that the boy is an autistic savant who may hold the key to lifting the blight that has been sweeping the islands. Can the Dukes, thirsty for revenge, be held at bay? Can Khalakovo be saved? The elusive answer drifts upon the Winds of Khalakovo...
WELL OF SORROWS by Benjamin Tate (DAW, May 2010)
Colin Harten and his parents had fled across the ocean to escape the Family wars in Andover. But trouble followed them and their fellow refugees to this new land, forcing them to abandon the settled areas and head into unexplored territory-the sacred grounds of a race of underground dwellers and warriors. It was here that they would meet their doom. Driven to the borders of a dark forest, they were attacked by mysterious Shadow creatures who fed on life force. Only Colin survived to find his way to the Well of Sorrows-and to a destiny that might prove the last hope for peace in this troubled land.
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