January 20, 2010

First Graphs: Undivided, a fantasy-mystery story by Marian Allen from Sword and Sorceress XXIII

Today's First Graphs features "Undivided," a fantasy/mystery story by author Marian Allen from MARION ZIMMER BRADLEY'S SWORD AND SORCERESS XXIII. (Norilana Books, Nov. 2008) (What a gorgeous cover!)

The SWORD AND SORCERESS series focuses on strong female protagonists with physical and magical prowess facing difficulties.

"Undivided" is the story of a warrior who must use these weapons, and her wits, to solve the mystery of her servant's kidnapping.

Excerpt from "Undivided" by Marian Allen:

Pimchan's Female did the unthinkable--she burst through the workout room doorway, knocking over the rosewood filigree screen, and entered her Mistress' practice arena uninvited.

Pimchan, ripped from battle meditation, whirled from her knees to her feet and grasped the girl in a double-handed grip designed to tear soul from body. With a brief quiver of muscle, she stopped herself on the very brink of harm.

Through clenched teeth, she said, softly, "Give thanks, my Female, to Chaos, who has granted me control. Now you know why I must not be interrupted."

"Mistress, come!"

The lack of repentance rang alarms. Pimchan released her gently, registering the panic of her female slave, a dark-haired and dark-eyed child of twelve, padded with baby fat. When the girl turned back toward the doorway, Pimchan grabbed her arm.


Allen said she wanted the beginning of the story to paint an image: "the 'seed' was the picture of the girl--called just 'Pimchan's Female'--running to her Mistress for help.

"I wanted to lead with action, communicate who the main character is (Pimchan) and give some flavor of the setting (they have slaves, they use screens instead of doors, they have fighting so they have practice arenas)," she says.

"If the girl has done the 'unthinkable' in interrupting her Mistress, something disastrous must have happened--and it has. Pimchan's reaction to the interruption, and to the news the girl brings, leads directly into the thick of the story. Her punishment of the girl for her action shows what kind of Mistress she is, and foreshadows the resolution."

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