Mark Lawrence Contest Entries

I mean, I might as well post them.

For those who don’t know, every so often Mark Lawrence hosts little writing contests, of roughly 300 words or so, with a panel of stellar judges. You write, usually with a theme of key words to mention, and then they are ranked and prestige falls upon the victors. While my entries never achieved anything notable, I loved the process for a few reasons:

  1. It forces you to work with so few words you quickly learn how essential it is to be efficient or curtain your ambition.
  2. It made me think about what type of scene is ideal for such a contest.
  3. Reading the winners sometimes really impresses. Other times it doesn’t, but then you learn from that, too. Five major fantasy authors as judges deemed this 3rd place. What do they see that is lost on me?

They also gave me a chance to write other content from my Imbalance world. While I toil away on the books (Purge of Ashes is preparing for beta readers in July) I rarely get to hop away. For both of these entries I went somewhere in-world distant and it taught me more about the world itself. I recognize that writing in my own world may inhibit my chances of winning, but this is the world I write in. Until it is done, I write in no other.

Without further ado: Bridge From Dard and Cutting.

Bridge From Dard (requirement: using the terms ‘life’ and ‘death’)

“I’ll be fine, Norae. You’ll see.”

We will see.

She would not get too close. She had her pole if need be.

The Bridge to Furl stretched out before Thanol Baeddicus, four lines of ropes coiled upon ropes framing an ingenious succession of interlocking planks. Each was long as a man and rooted by sturdy metal pins thick as mauls. It obscured not far from where Thanol was making his way out, lost to the blanched air of a soothing snow storm.

Morning had done little to alleviate the night’s chill, and the bridge itself was thick with snow heaped tall as her hand. It sloughed from Thanol’s boots to drop a thousand leaps to the chop below.

“See? Immaculate! A work of virtuoso engineering!”

So you said in crossing.

“Immaculate!” he repeated.

The man was a gifted talent. Her span in Furl as his apprentice had braved his thinly-veiled pomposity to find the skill underneath relished the exposure. In her naivety, Norae had assumed such capability beckoned an honest man. When the bridge had been proposed, such naivety withered. Life was, after all, the vandal of innocence. The greater fault lay at its feet.

Not my own.

“She withstood a blizzard, Pupil Norae. A blizzard! Warleader will march by nightfall.”

Two pins were shoved deep in her rucksack.

“If—”

Thanol reached the plank that felt their absence. Easy to see in daylight. Impossible under snowfall. He gave a weak squeal and slipped through. Norae had her pole ready, but it would not be necessary. The magnate was already fallen to his death.

Chilled, she rubbed her hands together. Just the night’s work catching up to me.

Norae of the Dard drew her knife and began at the ropes fixing the bridge to her cliff.

Cutting (requirement: using the terms ‘night’ and ‘day’)

“Wait, heading where?”

“Lonely Child.”

“And how many?”

“Two thousand. More. I-I’ve been riding since noon, sir.”

Rold the Lobber chewed, eyes set on the outrider. Offland’s finest knelt, feathered headdress splayed across his goat-horn helmet in a mess that bore a striking resemblance to Rold’s mess of a kingdom. He addressed the supplicant with his fork while cutting with his knife and cursing the man’s belligerence. This is why I need guards on the doors. Those boots just ruined my carpet.

“Get Latmask. Have him marshal half our horse and get going. If they can muster in twenty they will arrive with well over an hour to spare. Have him… hide… in the hills, or something.”

“S-Sir, it will take three—”

Four hours to get there, give or take an axle. I was just dining with my eldest son and his family no less than a week ago. Think I don’t know the roads between here and Banor?” He snatched a third potato.

“They were already at the border, sir,” the man said, overloud.

Rold gobbled down the potato half chewed so he could sooner upbraid the mongrel. Remain after being given orders? Utter pomposity! Plus he stinks of horse. Preparing to lash out, he caught a glimpse of the man’s trembling comportment. Caught the dust coating his boots and the length of their shadow.

“I—”

Since noon, sir.

The room heaved under a sudden, suffocating weight he could not unsummon. His knife clattered away, a numb attention grasping at senses that each slipped free, bleary and useless. His mind slugged its way through the loathsome calculation, then, pushing back his chair, Rold the Lobber stumbled away to the balcony where he faced a depthless night cutting through the light of day.

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Kings of the Wyld Review

On page 33 of my copy of Kings of the Wyld there is a section that beings with the line “And there it remained” and goes to the end of the chapter. It is two or three paragraphs and concludes chapter three, a chapter that by title (“Hitting the Road”) and placement within the book is surely a building chapter, there to get the story going. And yet, this section was for me the greatest part of the book. All the fantastical creatures, extraordinary treks, wacky antics, rich comradery, and dangerous encounters to follow stemmed from this one simple moment where Eames gets to the heart of matters, and elegantly.

It took a similar amount of chapters to impress his fellow author Sebastien de Castell (as mentioned in the acknowledgements) which was the beginning of Eames’s ascension to agent and publishing. I’m not surprised. I imagine it was this moment that sealed the deal. It is a beautiful thing to draw emotion from comedy, pull pathos from romp. Sometimes more beautiful than doing so in a work where it is the chief goal.

Great characters, clever interweaving, fun rock ‘n’ roll dressing, and some famous scenes. An excellent read.