“ The General tells the story of the titular character who is sent on a mission about which he has mixed feelings. The discoveries he makes cause him to call into question aspects of his society he otherwise and previously accepted almost unconditionally.
The character arc is managed very well by the author who handles the inherent conflict within the principal character deftly making the final position utterly believable. Action scenes are managed with fluidity and grace yet are incredibly visceral. The reader very much gets to feel what it would be like to be there.
The short story, and handling of it by the author, shows great promise, is thoroughly enjoyable and is well worth a read by anyone interested in fantasy writing.”
Amazon reviewer. Rating: 5 stars.
The first few paragraphs
“Don’t you think it’s strange?” the General asked as he looked up at the branches.
“What?” Tyson said.
“What about them?”
The General frowned at the white-haired Field Marshal. After days of hearing nothing but birdsong the silence wasn’t right, like watching a harpist pluck a soundless tune. “How far to go?”
“About three furlongs,” Tyson said. He lifted his half-helm and wiped the sweat from his brow. The interwoven canopies made the dense forest feel like the deserts of Kayrush. The General too dripped with perspiration. In between his toes, the canals of his ears—places he never knew it was possible to sweat.
“Give the order to break into formation.”
The force of four hundred quartered. Tyson led one detachment west, Commanders Lybald and Payter two more north and east, leaving the General to march from the south with the last. A reserve lay in wait. In charge of those was Byrges, a brawler if ever there was one; just the type of man you wanted if things turned sour.
The forest resisted their advance. Trees, young and ancient, grew close, barring their path like a shield wall. Where the trees broke rank, man-sized ferns and shrubs stood to buffer the force backwards. Hacking and slashing the men battled through. Some lashed out when brushed by vines or leaves. This was untested, hostile terrain, and like anything unfamiliar, provoked unease.
The forest brightened as the trees began to thin, and for the first time in days a breeze caressed the General’s face. It invigorated him, soughing through branches, sending leaves aflutter. The General noticed his tightened grip on the shaft of his mace, how his careful movements sharpened those of his men. A sound came to his ears, one that didn’t fit with their surroundings: waves lashing a shore. Reaching the perimeter of a clearing, he discovered its source.
The story behind The General
When I gave up my job as a lawyer one of the reasons was to use my free time to try and give something back. So I began to volunteer at my grandmother’s care home, Ranelagh House. During my visits something became apparent—the lack of mental stimulation, of activities. Residents simply sat in the lounge with Tipping Point on the TV, drifting in and out of sleep. Heaven to some, I’m sure, but knowing how these people had once lived rich, active and independent lives, very saddening.
After chatting to a few ladies—Doreen, Sheila, Edna, Eileen and my grandmother Joan too, I learned that in their younger years went to the cinema three, four, even five times a week! A cinema stood on nearly every high street in Liverpool. Some even had two. People queued up for hours to get into a showing. Cinema played a massive part in their lives growing up. So I decided to begin a film club, and since November 2016 every Monday afternoon we sit down with popcorn and ice cream and watch one of the classics.
Not long ago I learned that a fantastic local community cinema named ‘The Plaza‘ offered dementia screenings for the elderly. The perfect day out. My hopes were quickly dashed. Not enough money in the budget. In fact no money at all in the budget. Why? The Tory government took it all away, yet the obligation on care homes to provide activities for residents remains.
I’m not much of a runner so didn’t fancy doing a marathon to raise money. Nor did something like the Three Peaks Challenge appeal to me. So my good friend Mark Brooks and I decided we’d write a story each and sell them to raise money.