Peer Review by seaomelette (United Arab Emirates)

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A King's Crown

By: Bookworm101


The young boy, almost a man now and possessing the swaggering confidence that comes with it, prowled through the silent Palace. He stepped carefully, avoiding the patches of light and the gaze of the yawning guard. His destination was the armoury, situated on the third floor of the Palace.

The creaking first-floor stairs were a problem, so he solved the problem. He slipped out of a large window, left open by a servant to let the cool breeze in, and, digging his feet in, began to climb the crumbling wall.

When he reached the second floor, he swarmed over a balcony and pulled himself through the nearest window. He padded up a flight of stairs and down a silent hall until he reached a looming metal door, barred and locked. He unbarred it, then considered the lock.
Checking that nobody was watching, he muttered a word, and the lock clicked open.
He pushed the door open to view the room.

The armoury was large, lit with the warm glow of a fireplace in the corner. Racks of gleaming weapons adorned the walls, and a stand in the middle displayed a golden and ostentatious crown.

But the boy’s gaze went straight to the burly man admiring the bejewelled crown.
He wore a leather apron and had a thick, untrimmed beard. He turned as the boy cleared his throat.

The boy drew back the cowl of his cloak, revealing thick and curly black hair, stubble, and bright aqua eyes.

‘Greetings, Blacksmith.’ he said calmly.

The Blacksmith’s eyes bulged.

‘Prince Marc!’ A frown crossed his face. ‘Wasn’t the door locked?’

‘You must’ve forgotten to lock it,’ The boy - Prince Marc - said easily, dismissing the matter with a wave of his hand. ‘Anyway, is that my crown?’

He gestured to the stand in the middle of the room.

‘Future crown.’ The Blacksmith corrected. This was obviously Prince Marc, with his clothing and manner, but something about this seemed off. Prince Marc spoke with a slightly different accent, and usually had guards with him. He also didn't tend to sneak up on people, instead waltzing loudly into a room with plenty of fanfare.

‘Semantics,’ Prince Marc shrugged. 'Tomorrow, it will be my crown. And that’s what I’m here to talk to you about.’

He paused.
‘Tomorrow, at my coronation, we want the crown to arrive dramatically. To that end, we, being me and my parents, would like you to deliver the crown to the outskirts of the Foreboding Forest. Wrap the crown in plain canvas, and place it at the bottom of the Poison Oak tree.’

‘Canvas, Foreboding Forest, Poison Oak,’ The Blacksmith muttered. ‘Are you sure this is what your parents’ wishes are? The possibility of catastrophe… Well, there are many people who would wish to get their hands on a magical crown with almost unlimited power before it has been bonded to a new King.’

‘I’m sure.’ He looked supremely unconcerned at this prospect. In fact, the blacksmith thought, leaning closer, it was possible that he looked... eager? He dismissed this with a shake of his head. That was a ridiculous idea. Prince Marc would never want for his crown to fall into unsavoury hands.

‘Very well then.’ The Blacksmith said sceptically. ‘I will do as you order.’

The Blacksmith bowed his head as the prince swept out of the room, slipping his cowl back on.

Looking carefully, the boy-prince found his way into a deserted corner in which there was no chance of him being found. He began to shimmer with a soft purple light. 

When the light faded, there stood a beautiful woman, tall and pale, with a voluminous blue dress on. She stretched her arms above her head.

She snapped her fingers, and as the purple fog crept in, she smiled a wicked little smile, and vanished, leaving no trace that she had ever arrived. 

...

That same woman was in the Swamplands. The treacherous place was filled with dangerous magic, hungry oversized wolves, and thick fog made it almost impossible to see.

The woman didn't mind. The place suited her just fine. 

Another woman came out of the hut that sat behind her. With russet-coloured hair and dark green clothing, she looks like a forest spirit. 

That woman speaks. 
'You're back. Is it done?'

The other woman nods. 'The Blacksmith is unaware that I was not the real Prince Marc, and they will receive the crown soon. We have done as he asked. Our reward will come soon.'

'Remind me why you couldn't just send an animal in to get it?'

'That's not what he wanted. He needed Prince Marc to be the one last seen with the crown.'


Message to Readers

Thanks for the expert review! This is the edited version


Peer Review

OOo, I absolutely loved the magic and mystique in this novel excerpt! The way you snuck in little hints that "Prince Marc" isn't who he seems, and revealed the plot at the end was super smooth, and made me wanna read on! I'm always a big fan of fantasy, and reading this excerpt, I'm sure your world-building will be wonderful - you've already hinted at a classic, big ol' Palace (always great!), some scary Swamplands, sorcery....I'm all for it!!


Considering how this story's omniscient narrator floats over the scene and focuses on multiple characters at a time, there isn't really a main character in this excerpt. You've described the actions of the three characters you've introduced here - the blacksmith, Prince Marc?, and the mysterious sorceress in disguise - in a highly vivid way, and I'd love to get a little more information about their appearance. This may be your intention, and I understand the word limit, but I would suggest trying to expand your descriptions of characters' physical appearance. Rather than just telling readers that the blacksmith "wore a leather apron and had a thick, untrimmed beard", try showing them how he looks. The bent of his nose? The shine of his eyes? The sheer voluminousness (okay, I sort of made that word up) of his beard? As you introduce these details, try interpolating them into the action of the story. Here's a dud example: "Admiring the crown was a burly man, whose sheer size near eclipsed the dainty metalwork. His hands were scarred and meaty, and the firelight reflected off his crooked nose. The man turned as the boy cleared his throat." This is only a suggestion though, and I'm sure you can write it way better than I just did.


Honestly, the story progression in this novel excerpt was just superb. Super smooth, super exciting! I don't think it's necessary to expand or cut back on some scenes, but I've noticed a few tense inconsistencies here and there. I've pointed out some of these, as well as some great sentences that could be even better with a little careful revision.


As I've said in the previous, previous section, you did an awesome job describing the action of the story, and I'd love to see you extend that detail to the appearance of characters, and the setting that surrounds them. For example, as you follow "Prince Marc's" gaze around the armory, try unfurling details of the scene slowly, like a blooming flower. You mention "gleaming weapons", the fireplace, and lastly the all-important crown, but I'd love to see a little imagery build-up. How does the floor look like? Rough-hewn cobblestone, shining slightly by the light of the....warm, crackling fireplace? Whose light reflects off the sharp blades of displayed weapons? What kinds of weapons are these? You don't have to describe these exact details, but descriptions as these will help ground the characters' actions in a more tangible setting.


Novel writing, especially fantasy novel writing with crazy world-building and magic, is really hard, but I think you've already gotten an excellent foundation in this excerpt. I notice in your bio that you mention Sarah J. Maas as one of your favorite authors, and same! As a serious TOG and ACOTAR fan, I can testify that this novel excerpt has amazing potential as one of my favorite fantasy books ever. And I'm sure there are countless other people who would say the same. Keep writing! But take plenty of rests and snack breaks as well. Best of luck to you in the competition and your writing process!!


Reviewer Comments

This novel excerpt was marvelous, and I had an awesome time reading and reviewing it. Keep up the epic writing, and if you have any questions, just ask, and I'll be happy to help! :3