Thursday, June 27, 2013

solid, gritty, pulpy

The first excerpt of Blood Brothers that I posted on this blog was meant to illustrate the fun I had with "overdoing it"--indulging my desires to write in a lyrical way about far-out, mystic ideas and experiences. A lot of those sections take place within the chapters told from the Verlvik character's point of view. But I also had a lot of fun with more action-oriented (or, as Jim Butcher puts it in his interview with Patrick Rothfuss: "solid/gritty/pulpy") writing, and a lot of that writing comes in the chapters told from the perspective of the Grillis character.

So, to balance the previous excerpt, I figured I'd post an excerpt showcasing the gritty/pulpy action in Blood Brothers. Here's an example:

All the bewilderment in Grillis, all the shock and horror he felt, galvanized in that instant into rage. Before he had a chance to decide to act, before he’d consciously chosen an action, he was in motion. He rose up through the trap door like an avenging ghost, and stepped onto that killing floor with the axe head soaring into the air above him. Transfixed as they were with the gruesome spectacle, none of the men there noticed his ascent. But these weren’t men, Grillis knew in his heart. These weren’t men, these were monsters.

With all of his body bending backwards like a strung bow, Grillis brought the axe head back, and then he sent the first blow flying. It came down square on the crown of the nearest cleric’s skull, and kept on moving, down through the brain, through the spinal column, to finally clear solid matter just below the cleric’s shoulder blades. The man toppled forward lifeless, like a felled tree. Before his body hit the ground the axe was on a new path, up and over Grillis’s right shoulder, and then soaring back horizontally to the left, to tear through the side of the next cleric’s neck. The force was so great it sent the man’s head flying, flipping ear over ear in the air, spraying rings of blood.

Grillis’s mouth strained wide, crying outrage. It must have made a terrible racket, though he couldn’t hear it. All the sound that existed for him in that moment, as he stepped toward the third cleric, was the rush of blood in his ears.

By now the third cleric had warning of the danger closing in on him. But as he turned to face Grillis, and saw the woodcutter’s blood-spattered face, saw the carnage wrought in a mere handful of heartbeats, he quailed. His mace came up in a weak-handed blocking position, no match for the force of the twelve-pound axe. As Grillis brought the axe back from the blow that had beheaded the second cleric, he turned the motion into a vicious backhanded swing that swept the mace away, and smashed square into the third cleric’s mouth with the back of the axe head. Fragments of tooth and bone flew into the air as the man’s mouth caved in, and his limp body was thrown heavily against the wall, making the whole shack quake.

Grillis brought the axe into a ready position in front of him, and turned toward the remaining men in the room. There was a moment’s pause, and then several things happened simultaneously: the third caprine, who must have been Athemon’s father, turned and ran out the shack door; Ciranon’s hands went to the iron collar at his neck, and seemed to pass through the metal as though it were smoke, leaving the collar to fall to the wood floor with a clank; and another cleric, this one wearing brilliantly polished plate-mail armor over his tunic, raised his hand to point at Grillis, and spoke.

“Halt, demon!” the armored cleric boomed. It was the voice that had silenced Ciranon’s plea mere moments before. “Behold the light of the Goddess!”

Though the only sunlight in the room came through the door behind him, the cleric’s armor suddenly flared with light as though it were reflecting the brilliance of the sun. Grillis stumbled back, his left hand leaving the axe handle to try to shield his eyes from the glare. He heard Ciranon shout out a warning. Desperately, the dazzled woodcutter swung his axe one-handed.

It connected with something hard and brittle, and instantly a dozen points of pain opened on Grillis’s face. Less than a millisecond later a massive force smashed into him, knocking the breath from his lungs, carrying him backward to bang against the shack wall. The force was more than the shack could take. A sharp creak, almost like a dog’s yelp, filled the air, followed by the explosive cracking of wooden beams splintering apart.

“It’s coming down!” someone shouted.

Grillis threw his arms up to shield his head. The wall behind him gave way, the pressure pinning him to it seemed to jolt from some heavy blow, and then all was raucous sound and confusion.

No comments:

Post a Comment