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The Birth of a Novel - Proverbs and Destiny 9 -Transition

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Proverbs and Destiny – The Birth of a Novel 9 – Transition

A person’s body is precious to him but nothing to someone else. – Oromo proverb

 

This week we're into transition. I’ve completed the first draft and sent it to my friend and fellow author, Sarah Stuart, for ‘shredding’. Next stage, after I’ve got over the shock of her comments, and accepted that she’s probably right, will be editing. There are things I want to add, descriptions that could be better, and subjects to reconsider, brought about by standing back and thinking about it for a week.

I’ve also been thinking about a title. It was originally called Destiny, way back in 2005, and I kept that as a working title, but there are a lot of novels with that name, already and it doesn’t say much about the contents. I briefly thought of it as The Gift of Prophecy: apt, as many of the topics I wrote about in 2005 have already come to pass, but a search for that brings up religious work, which this isn’t, or not in the accepted sense.

The problem of what to call it made me think hard: what is the novel actually about? What’s at its core? It’s about man’s indomitable character, about living in adversity, about courage and fear, about stupidity, short-sightedness, selfishness, intolerance, and greed. It’s about gentleness, forgiveness, and the power of love to change people’s hearts. But most of all, I think it’s about the unquenchable hope that drags us from our beds each morning, despite the individual crosses we each bear.

A phrase came into my head, inspired by something I once heard. If it can be imagined, it can be achieved. To that I added the logical outcome of that premise. Mankind will go where hope dares.

So, welcome to WHERE HOPE DARES.

 

Another short excerpt:

Death suppurated from the pile of stiffening bodies, their blood-stained clothing flapping gently in the breeze: limbs tangled at awkward angles, sightless eyes stared skywards at the circling vultures. A fly landed on Raphel’s nose and walked across his eyelids, pausing to drink at the pool of salt liquid in the corner of his eye. More flies buzzed noisily, incessantly, occasionally landing on the blood that had crusted on his leg. The body next to him had no head, but he could tell by the bone knife in the still-clenched hand, that Guddaa Mana had lost its oldest and most revered Abbaa Bokku, their village elder.

His limbs were stiff with pain and his ribs stabbed but, apart from that one brief look in the early hours by the light of the burning houses, he hadn’t moved. He listened, as he had listened all night, to the sounds of the Northmen, their rough but melodic speech distinct from their own softer tones. Their voices were fewer now, and quieter, as if they were moving away.

He waited, going over in his mind, again, what had happened and how he’d failed. They’d had scant minutes to get the women and children to safety after Abe had run into the village, breathless and clutching his chest. He’d helped Abe raise the alarm, running from house to house, but some had refused to leave their homes and had lost him precious time. In the end, he left them and they’d perished in the flames or by the sword. Then, he’d grabbed Jalene from her cot and headed for the caves but, when a brute of a man had hauled Temara from her home, he’d thrust his daughter into Moti’s arms and bade him run as fast as he could. Moti had tucked her under one arm, grabbed his grandson’s hand and run.

He’d thought, in his arrogance, being the younger, fitter man, he could save Moti’s daughter but the enemy soldier had been too strong and too well-armed. He was weak, a mere story-teller not a fighter, and his slight form and simple work-knife had been no match for his opponent’s strength and fighting prowess, or his battle-axe, sword or spear.

He prayed he’d bought Moti time to reach the cavern. He prayed Kiya was still safely far from home. His leg throbbed, and breathing hurt. He’d taken a blow to his chest, and the Northman’s spear in his thigh: had been pinned to the ground, unable to move, while Temara was savagely butchered. What he couldn’t understand was why the larger soldier had slit the smaller one’s stomach. Unable to be of any further use, he’d played dead, letting his limbs go limp when the spear was jerked out of his leg, and he was thrown over the shoulder of a Northman and hurled onto the pile of bodies.

It had been silent, now, but for the buzzing of the flies and the mournful squawk of the vultures, long enough for the sun to move the shadow of a dead limb across his nose. Cautiously, he opened one eye and then the other. He turned his face and stared into blue, Northman eyes, sightless and staring. He raised his head. The village appeared deserted. Agony speared through his leg and chest as he tried to move.

He crawled across the bodies, dragging his wounded leg, dizzy from loss of blood, his throat parched. Once in the cover of a stand of juniper bushes and low oaks, he rested, weak and breathless. The movement had opened his wound, but it was a flesh wound, and not as deep as he had feared: he tore a strip of cloth from his shirt and bound his thigh. He’d lost a lot of blood already, and couldn’t afford more. He slumped against a rock and waited, breathing raggedly: he had to be sure no-one had seen him before he attempted to reach the cavern.

 

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