Hi! I'm currently in the process of writing something I've been thinking about for quite a while, and came here to see if I could get some reviews and critique on my prose by some bored fella with free time. Posted below are the first 1400 words of the first chapter of the main character, (third chapter so far), arriving at a city he's never been before. The main flaws I see are the clunkiness of my prose and a sense of "hyper world building", as in I feel I am attempting to bury a weakness in my plot with incessant world building. If I am correct, please validate my concerns. However, if you notice anything else important please point it out to me! I've been working on the draft between school and have some 35000 words, so it is starting to get to the point where it might in certain circles be considered a serious endeavor. Thank you for your time!
Knott loved Rivertown the moment he saw it, standing on the decks of the Julian with his back to his grandmother and all her prophecies.
It was nothing like Redhill. Redhill was ringed by the clay-rich hills from which it took its name, bordered to the north by thick forests, the first fingers of the dark glens of the wild North, and to the west by the Iron Fists. To the south the hills continued until the mighty Aeger, of which only streams were seen by the villein of Redhill. Farthest east of the Dominion’s cities, it was isolated and small, so travelers were rare in Redhill, and merchants rarer. The city proper was a meager town of some three or four thousand, huddled in the shadow of Claymore’s Keep, the massive ancestral citadel of the lords of Redhill since time immemorial. The lands were quiet, and were often beset with heavy rains. The people were similar, and foreigners were rare. Knott remembered how he had once ridden Chance far enough where his grandmother’s banners were invisible, and the hulking towers were mere suggestions in the horizons. He had felt so free then.
But now he was in Rivertown! Truly free! And how grand it was, just as he had imagined. The Aeger was so much larger than Edward’s Creek, and so aweful and daunting. Its waters were swift and fierce, flowing south from the source at the Iron Fist past the great river cities of Minimus on the River and Rivertown, finally pouring out into the Great East Sea at the Eger Delta.
Knott had been shocked at how large even Minimus on the River had been. It was thrice the size of Redhill, at least, with five times the folk, many not even of the elven folk and Low men that Knott was accustomed to seeing. He saw a dwarf for the third time in his life there. A broad, muscular little man he was, a good two heads shorter than him, with tattoos spanning his body and a double bladed axe strapped to his back. His beard was so long that Knott had thought he would trip on it if he was not careful. The first has been when he was a child, when the courtier of King-Paladin Magus had deigned visit, soft-spoken and polite, but with the calm confidence that the gryphon banner he bore brought. He had given Knott a toy paladin, with wooden arms and legs connected to a copper torso, weilding a sword of tin. Knott had loved that toy, but his father had misliked the dwarf, and had the taken it away. The second was the dwarf princeling that had taken wound from some monster in the North. They brought him into the castle to die.
But Rivertown was filled with all sorts of folk! Great men with the dark hair and skin of southerners, tall North elves with black hair and skin so white it seemed akin to snow, broad dwarves with beards braided in intricate patterns that Knott lost himself in if he did not look away after some time, and tiny halflings, scuttling around to avoid being crushed in the stem of the crowd. Knott recognized two of ten tongues spoken around him, and understood little even of that. It was amazing.
And the city! How grand it was! The rows of marble homes seemed to never end, stretching far into the horizon, its docks following suit. It’s western walls were small compared to those of Hilltown, and the Redriver Fort would’ve been dwarfed by Claymore’s Keep, but Redhill never looked half as pretty as when the sun hit the waters of the Aeger and washed the land in an ethereal light. The river was so deep that the ships that dared not venture north to the shallows of Minimus on the River sailed comfortably in its center. And the ships! Knott had never seen so many ships in one place before! Beautiful ships with strange folk sailing them! Dark men with red eyes from Hell, frigid Northerners from Carvenarr, stout halflings of the Drall, even elves from the distant North Port, all docked here in hopes of making purchase of goods from the Broken Kingdoms without the intervention of other merchants. Knott loved to see them bargain in their mother languages, understanding nothing but grasping the emotions behind them. They were so different and beautiful sometimes Knott wanted to cry out and kiss them.
It had been an interesting trip south from Minimus on the River, with their ship, the Julian, attacked twice by giant serpents. The first time of course, Knott had been asleep, so he had not really seen it. But he had seen the deep grooves carved into the Julian’s starboard side, and the sailors seemed too shaken to be lying as they were wont to do. The second one attacked them almost a day before they reached Rivertown. The sailors told Knott that the serpent was much smaller that time, but Knott could not believe it. He had been paralyzed in awe when he had seen it’s head trailing out of the water, twice the size of a cow and with stag like horns that spanned perhaps five hands from each other. He remembered now how its jaws had stretched open to reveal endless teeth that trailed back into the dark depths of his throat.
Perhaps that one was small as the sailors had suggested, because it harassed them little before returning the the river’s depths. Still Knott had not slept easy that night, and every bump beneath the hull of the ship was transformed into such devil sea-snakes in his restless dreams.
Two skiffs of the river guard had rowed up to them at the last hours of their journey. Their sarjeant had boarded their ship and found nothing uncalled for, received their tribute for their Lord Arrington, then offered he and his men as escorts. The captain had gladly accepted, and so they were accompanied by their mud colored sails as they entered the outskirts of the city.
Knott had heard much of the Egerion, the famed river guard of Lord Arrington. They had few outposts north of Minimus on the River, and even there they were few in number. But here there were thousands. Their mud cloaks seemed omnipresent, and their lithe spears stood tall amongst the crowds, every turn of the street revealing another company of their men, their faces marked by the gentle reproach of the sun and the discord of waters salty and fresh.
Knott was unsteady on his feet when he stepped on land again for the first time in nearly two weeks. This time however, he was more accustomed to the disorientation. At Minimus on the River, he had grown terribly ill. Things went worse from there of course. Poor Hallorn. He pushed those memories away for now. It was not yet time to confess. He felt proud that he could walk the streets of Rivertown with the confidence and swagger of any sailor.
Knott had been very much out of place with the common folk of Redhill. His straw yellow hair and blue eyes had been strange sights to the dark peasants. But here he was just another face in the flood of men. Folk of his stature and appearance were not rare, and some had hair so fair it made his seem coarse and dark. He tried to talk to a few, but they ignored him, thinking he was trying to sell some wares. The only man who responded eagerly to his conversation, a loud man in shiny half armor, turned out to be a recruiter for Prince Jassern’s growing army at Northfast, calling men to join the march upon the Bastard Baron of Villein’s Scape. It took Knott some time to escape his promises of bonuses upon enlistment, endless loot, and bonuses upon retirement distributed in titles of land in the Northern lands conquered, and continue on his way. Knott knew better. It was winter. Prince Jassern’s host would be cut to pieces. Besides. What loot would that whoreson reaver king have to offer?
The road to the north market went through slums half flooded, full of pauper children running naked through the streets screaming in their delight. Knott felt homesick then, for his childhood beneath the cherry trees with Bernard and Euniss. Then he remembered that Euniss was dead and it was all spoilt again.