In the Service of the King
By the time mid-June comes around, I’m hopeful that In the Service of the King will be published, so I thought I’d take some time to write about it.
First of all, it’s a short book, around 50,000 words, originally created for National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) 2009. Since most traditional publishers prefer longer works of fantasy or science fiction, say a minimum of 80,000 words and up to even 200,000, it’s not a good fit for sending out to agents. I thought about trying to add words to it, but the story is complete as it is. I felt adding more would only dilute the pacing of the tale.
The size of the book reminds me of the old fantasy novels of my father’s which I discovered in our attic as a kid around ten years old. I remember reading Conan stories, along with Elric and a bevy of others all during the time I was discovering Dungeons & Dragons. Those were great books, and most of them weren’t more than 65,000 words. So, in some ways, I’m reaching back to my youth and a lot of my original inspiration.
In the Service of the King is the first novel about the Crimson Hawks, a mercenary company led by Captain James Markson, the narrator of the tale. I don’t normally write in first person, but I wanted to experiment for Nanowrimo, and something magical happened. I feel like I didn’t write the book as much as let Markson dictate it to me. Basically, he inherited a tidy sum of money from his father, a highwayman, and chose to invest it first in a bar, then in a mercenary company. What else could a young man want? Anyway, his company, the Crimson Hawks, is made up of the leftovers and unwanted of mercenary society. Fortunately, James has a gift for making people trust him.
Unfortunately, mercenary companies need contracts and money. So, when James receives a lucrative offer to help a king put down a rebellion, he can’t refuse it. Even if he knows that there’s something terribly wrong with it. Things get even worse when he stares into the gorgeous eyes of the leader of the uprising. Sometimes, mercenaries aren’t on the right side, but they still have to honor their contracts.
I think it’s a fun read (but I wrote it, so I’m biased) which one of my beta-readers called “unpredictably predictable.” As he said, you feel like you know what’s going to happen, but you never really know how it’s going to happen. So, please, if you have the chance, watch this space for the release of In the Service of the King, the first Crimson Hawks novel. I think you’ll enjoy it, and the second book isn’t far away.