The Tale of Modeña: Prologue

Fiction By Arthur // 4/15/2013

The Tale of Modeña



   Modeña, a land of rolling hills and peaceful valleys, shallow streams and graceful rivers, fields of grain and meadows of flowers, is a glorious and powerful nation. It may surprise you, though, that not so long ago it was not like this. Though Modeña was powerful, peace did not lay on all her borders. There was a time when war loomed as death over the country.

   How did this come about? And why is it not so today? That can only be answered by a story. But to understand this story, and the people in it, you must first know a little history.

   Southern Modeña is called by its people Kίshan, and rightly so, for it is only under Modeñan rule by right of conquest. Many long years ago, Shouthern Modeña was part of the Kingdom of Kίshan. It was a land of bounty, thus it caught the eyes of both the king of Modeña, King Herrgoth, and the king of Serrat. Therefore, they made an alliance and carved up the Kingdom of Kίshan. And because of this, the two kingdoms became allies.

   Modeña, though, did not do what most conquerors do. Though the nobles of Kίshan had been stripped of their power, they were not replaced. And because the nobles had no more power, they could not keep their land. So Southern Modeña became a free land where men could own land. Where did the noble go? They became a more wealthy farmer, usually with a great manor house, and more land than the normal man. Thus, those who were extremely poor became quite rare. Still, there was a resentment toward their conquerors. And even now, you can find those that are unhappy.

   But surely they had it far better than those in the portion conquered by Serrat. In that part there is a great resentment, even hatred, toward their conquerors. For Serrat became a taskmaster, and enthralled the people; and there had been several revolts.

   Many years passed, and the ties between the two kingdoms became withered. For in those days King Jŭdum raised up armies greater than any this land has seen. He conquered the proud kingdom of Uthan, the sister of Modeña, and continued further, until all the lands west of the Belgas Mountains were under his control. Then he turned his eyes eastward to the kingdoms of Modeña and Otheyn.

   King Karshë raised up an army to resist King Jŭdum, and waited at the border to stand against the pending invasion.

   This is the story of my father, and my wife’s father during the fallen kingdom; this is their story as told to me. This is the tale of Modeña.


   ~Eðomir of Heshenshair

Read The Tale of Modeña: Chapter I



I really like the writing style of this and the summary of what will happen. I saw some commas before "and" and those aren't necessary - and it wasn't because of --,--,and -- where you are supposed to put an "and".

"Modeña—a land of rolling hills and peaceful valleys, shallow streams and graceful rivers, fields of grain and meadows of flowers—is a glorious and powerful nation. " - I've learned that separating that clause with dashes are incorrect and you should end it with a comma; which is correct.

This is the story of my father, and my wife’s father during the fallen kingdom; this is their story as told to me.." - I am not sure, but I think you should have more parallelism in this.

This is the story of my father, and this is the story of my wife’s father during the fallen kingdom; this is their story as told to me.

OR, even better...

This is the story of my father and my wife's father during the fallen kingdom;this is their story as told to me.

You keep posting everything before the story, so please, write Chapter Two!

Lucy Anne | Mon, 04/15/2013

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson


I agree with Lucy Anne. I loved the way you wrote this, it felt a little like LOTR to me, personally. The wording was fabulous and I love the first paragraph description.
There were parts which I got sort of lost... like I'm not the best with names, so I was thrown off with all the names and places and who owned those places and which places held rulers. I don't think, honestly, there is anything you can do to make it more understandable, because I think it's just me :P
So... what really threw me off was Modena and Kishan... what's the difference? And are you saying that they are the same things? That is probably the only thing which you might try to clarify, unless I missed something while reading that would have explained it. But again, I think it's just me, and I don't need to know to get the whole story, and I'm sure if I were to read on, it wouldn't matter anyways.
I'm very interested in reading more.
It's so weird, because I just started fantasy story too... which has to do with land politics and war and stuff.... great minds think alike ;) Haha.

LOL Lucy Anne! It sounds like you kept on writing the end part the same way over and over again, I couldn't see the difference. Personally I thought the last line was absolutely perfect and really well put.

So... I think you might want to post a pronunciation dictionary or something. Because I don't know how to read Eðomir without reading it as Éomer of Rohirrim... which I don't think is correct.

Very well done, can't wait to read more!

Kassady | Tue, 04/16/2013

"Here's looking at you, Kid"
Write On!

Hmm.. Interesting. I like how

Hmm.. Interesting. I like how you describe it as a richly and lively country. I can already picture it already. Just wondering, is this Fantasy? Just wondering :)

P.S. I also agree with Kassady. Is it Modeña or Kίshan?

j. Glen pollard | Tue, 04/16/2013

"The trip is a difficult one. I will not be myself when I reach you."-When I Reach Me.

Prologue advice : )

Hi Arthur!

You have definitely developed some really cool history and social dynamics for your world, but here's what I'm thinking: Your reader should discover these things by being immersed in your world through the story, not told them right up front. Let them learn these things through references in dialogue, internal monologue, etc. Sometimes, one of the best ways to add tension is to withold bits of information. There is resentment in the land? Why? The reader will want to keep reading to find out (don't withold it for too long, just enough to create some interest). In a nutshell, show, don't tell. : )

That said, fantasy is probably the only genre that can regularly get away with prologues even though most editors and agents of other genres strongly discourage them. In fact, I know an author who was ASKED to add a prologue to her fantasy book. Here are my suggestions for what makes a good fantasy prologue, based on prologues that I have liked:

1. It should have ACTION. Make it an actual SCENE. That scene can happen thousands of years or only hours before the events of the rest of the book, but it should be a scene. Even if it's in the form of a letter, the writer can be narrating a scene from first-person POV. One good example of a letter-scene is the prologue to The Dragons of Noor by Janet Lee Carey.

2. No info dumping! Save the juicy pieces of information for later and raise questions by witholding them.

3. Don't make it too long! One of my favorite series, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, is infamous for its ridiculously long (70+ page) prologues. The early books have nice short ones, but once they started getting to be 20 or more pages, I started skimming for anything useful. The one exception was the prologue to the final book, which I did read all the way through though it was 60 pages long. Why? See point 1. That prologue had action! Good gravy, it had an entire BATTLE! But, generally, keep them to the length of a short chapter.

4. It should be RELEVANT. It shouldn't be included just because the book needs a prologue. There should be a reason that it's there. Use it to give a unique viewpoint or reveal some (but not too much) information.

I hope that helps! You have a really good historical foundation here, and I'd like to read more of your book. : )

Kayleen | Tue, 04/16/2013

"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." -- Herman Melville
"Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass." -- Anton Chekhov


I personally like prologues that have this kind of history and background - I feel like they get me ready for what's to come. But I know they are off-putting for some people. However, since your style is Tolkien-esque, it fits the audience you'd probably have. I do think there would be a way to write this with more action - more showing and less telling - or even include it as the story progresses, with people briefly explaining things to someone else. Just a thought. I like it the way it is, but know others are really picky about prologues, since it is the first thing people read of your writing.

In the first sentence, the dashes help, but I still think there's too much space between the subject and the verb. I had to go back to re-read it to understand it.
Also first paragraph, and you would probably know this better than I, but I'd write "lie" instead of "lay." I've always been confused about lie/lay, though.

You like to repeat words in close proximity. The main ones I noticed were the "thoughs" in the first paragraph, and then in this part with "land."
"And because the nobles had no more power, they could not keep their land. So Southern Modeña became a free land where men could own land."

I know you're going for a certain style, but here I felt that it was more confusing than helpful - "Southern Modeña is called by its people Kίshan" - I'd write "Southern Modena is called Kishan by its people."

Last one, and this is another of personal preference, but in the fifth paragraph from the bottom, you open sentences "thus" "still" and "And even now." Even though they're similar, the flow of it is somehow choppy to me; I think it needs more variation.

I LOVE the last two paragraphs! And I think the second-to-last keeps the prologue from just being history - it sets up what's coming next and makes you wonder what'll happen after all that waiting.

Kyleigh | Thu, 04/18/2013