Friday, May 21, 2010

The Novel Chapter; The Leviathan

So I actually ended up reading the most of the series I was going to review (five books) in the last couple of days, and I found out that I don't really have time to write five reviews, or even a series review. So sorry, for those who wanted a review. :)

Which means that it's that time of day for me to post my novel excerpt; the chapter. This chapter is from about midway through the second book (I couldn't find a whole lot of exciting chapters in my first book that didn't have to do with a vital part of the plot).

I posted part of it on a comment on Wayne Thomas Batson's blog (which conveniently ended in a cliffhanger), so for those who read it there, you'll get the end of the chapter as well. So you'll find out the end of the cliffhanger. :D

I'd love to hear any comments or critique you may have, so feel free to comment.

~ Chapter 18 ~
The Leviathan

“How long do you think it'll last?” I yelled to Shad over the pouring sheets of rain. I could barely make out his dim form ahead of me through the heavy rain, swaying as waves smashed into the ship.

Lightning lit up the sky for a short second, and a crash of thunder obscured Shad's reply.

“What?” I shouted.

“I don't know!” I heard Shad this time.

Another peal of thunder sounded overhead, and I motioned in the general direction of King Ladar's cabin on the stern of the ship.

Shad followed me as we staggered around the heaving deck. Lightning flashed, and I saw some of the other ships in the fleet in a similar position, bucking like a giant sea beast in the tempest that raged around them. I focused on keeping my balance, gritting my teeth and doggedly tumbling in the direction of the cabin.

Shad and I smashed into the cabin door after a particularly rough wave, and scrabbled for the handle, dropping through the door. I slammed the door shut, and we stood there, dripping.

King Ladar sat at his desk, writing. The ship shuddered again, and he reached out, catching his lantern before it crashed to the floor of the cabin. He spotted us standing before the cabin door.

“The storm is bad, then?” he asked, as if the of crash of thunder and flashes of lightning all around him weren't enough to answer his question.

“'Bad' is an understatement.” I said, wringing my clothes.

His eyebrows raised. “I see.”

Shad collapsed suddenly in a nearby chair. “S-something's going to happen," he said, wiping the water running down his brow. I had never heard Shad stammer before.

“What?” King Ladar and I asked simultaneously.

Shad looked beyond us, out the window, as if he saw something we didn't. “Something terrible.”

He seemed to come out of a sort of trance. “The alarm bell!” he cried urgently.

Shad raced outside, the door slamming violently behind him. A few minutes later I heard the peal of the warning bell.

I began to wonder if Shad had been struck by the lightning from the storm around us. Sighing, I braced myself, and then hurtled out, barely making it through before the door smashed shut behind me.

I staggered slightly as the pelting rain hit me, and then made my way to the navigator cabin. As I made my way across the deck, I saw several other startled sailors coming up from below the decks at the ringing of the alarm bell.

I found Shad inside the navigator cabin, ringing the bell vigorously. The walls were covered with damp, half-torn maps, hence the name of the cabin.

Shad was calmer than before, and he stopped ringing the bell as I tumbled into the room.

He looked out the porthole, and then tore his eyes away from it and stared at me. “It's here.”

An unearthly roar came from outside, and the Waverunner shook violently.

“What in the world?!” I shouted, alarmed. The ship rocked back and forth again.

“It's a-” Shad began to yell, but a bellow from outside masked his words.

“What?” I shouted.

“It's a leviathan!”

My blood ran cold. Leviathans were mythical, at least, they used to be. Legend said they were the last of the huge creatures that roamed the earth when Aari had made it. Humans had driven them off in the Early Days, and they had slowly died out.

But now I wasn't so sure.

Shad grabbed a harpoon and smashed out of the cabin. I followed him, taking a harpoon as well. I didn't know what to expect, but nothing had prepared me for what I saw as I stared into the tempest raging around me.

I saw Shad standing still on the other side of the ship, but a roar riveted my attention from Shad. There, above him, was the most monstrous, hideous, and terrifying beast I had ever seen.

Its body, covered in gray-green scales stained by the lash of the sea, rippled with mighty muscles. It had giant spines running down its neck, where they disappeared into the sea. Its head loomed above the ship with luminous, blood red eyes and keen, stained teeth. It gave a keening scream, exposing rows of more teeth. A gust of choking, smelly breath hit me, and I staggered to the side of the ship and retched over the side.

Shad shouted to me, “Hit it in one of its eyes! That's the only place that's vulnerable!”

Shad had found more harpoons, and he hurled them, one after another, at the leviathan looming above the ship, but to no avail. All of the harpoons struck, but they glanced off the strong scales of the leviathan like twigs.

Shouts came from around me, and I saw other men coming from various places, clutching at harpoons themselves.

I remembered a poem that my mother had read to me when I was younger.

'Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook,
Or tie down his tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
Will he keep begging you for mercy?
Will he speak to you with gentle words?
If you lay a hand on him,
You will remember the struggle and never do it again!
Any hope of subduing him is false;
The mere sight of him is overpowering.'

Despair overwhelmed me for a second, but then I came to my senses, and ran toward the leviathan, harpoon high.

I threw it, heaving with all my strength and will.

It curved up into the dark sky, a solitary bullet in the black clouds above.

The harpoon struck deep into the glowing eye of the leviathan, a thorn in the body of the great crustacean.

It shook its head in pain and frustration, giving an earth-shaking, heart-stopping roar, glaring at Shad murderously with its one working eye.

Shad stood there, his hands on his last harpoon.

The leviathan screeched, and, jaws open wide, brought its mighty weight down on the ship, trying to get at Shad. I grabbed a rope, hanging on for my life as the deck tilted.

Shad scrabbled for the mast and managed to get his arms around it, still holding the harpoon.

The ship tilted almost vertically, and I saw Shad's hands slipping as I clung to the rope. My mind was blank with horror as I saw Shad slide a little, and then drop into the gaping maw of the leviathan.

“No!!” I cried in anguish.The Waverunner straightened, and the leviathan raised its head vertically, as if to swallow something. Instead, wheezing gasps came from its huge mouth.

It started thrashing wildly, making giant waves that almost overwhelmed the ship. I saw a glittering thing protruding slightly from the from the leviathan's neck, as if it were a tiny jewel.

It was metal, and I thought someone must have finally penetrated the leviathan's scales with a harpoon.

And then I suddenly realized the harpoon was pointing outward.

The leviathan gave a shrill, bone-chilling shriek, breaking all the windows that were still intact on the ship. It tumbled onto the Waverunner, its eyes already clouding over in death.

A figure crashed out the dead leviathan's throat, coughing.

“Shad!” I yelled, running toward him. He was alive!

He gave a nonchalant wave, as if nothing had happened, and then coughed again, hard.“Hey," he said. "I got in a tangle with the leviathan, but I managed to lodge the harpoon in its neck before it could eat me.”

I laughed.

"And it stunk like you wouldn't ever believe in there!”

THE END... of the chapter. :D


Eldra said...

Nice job! I didn't know that you wrote in first person too!

This reminds me slightly of a book called The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka. I only read the first couple of chapters in book one before I gave it up. (I had started The Door Within at the same time and that series won!)

Every piece of writing you put up makes me more and more curious as to what your novels are like. Are they all written in first person?

~God Bless~

Jake said...

Nope. The first is in third, the second in first, and the third is in third again. None of them have any alternate POVs, although I am in the outlining stages of one that WILL have multiple POVs. It's going to be a prequel to the current series. And then I have this and this and this and this... :D Too many ideas, sometimes. And they all take place in the same world. :D

One of the reasons I chose this is becuase it's probably the best written piece in the entire series. And leviathans (did you catch the Bible quote in there?) have always fascinated me. :D

Eldra said...

It's a great sequence. And I agree that third person is usually easier to write in because you can get into multiple characters' heads, though one of the things that really bugged me about certain books (the Star Wars: Medstar series in particular) is that some people spend far too much time in the bad guy's head. I personally don't want to read a full chapter about the bad guys; I want to get back to the good guys!

Whoa, sorry about the rant. I do that some times. Oh, and the bad guy-good guy thing has nothing to do with you. It just happened to come out in this comment.

Although I'm not too into water related books (with the exception of Wayne Thomas Batson's Pirate Adventures) this is a really cool chapter. Are all your books water related or is it just certain parts?

~God Bless~

Squeaks said...

Awesome Jake! I love the pirate-like scene. Seriously, authors should write more about the ocean than just land...I love pirate-ish books :P WTBs pirate series was awesome...yours sounds great so far! Do you think you'll publish it?


Jake said...


This was one of the several water-related scenes in all of my novels. I think there's three voyages in my novels.

I usually keep away from pirate books (ever since reading The Dark Frigate, a Newbery Award book) but WTB's books were amazing. And I know that most pirate or sea-related books are a lot different than that one, but ever since, I'm always rather suspicious of pirate books. :D

Most of my plot happens on land, however. Completely, actually, in my first book.


I'm happy you liked it! Actually, I don't know if I'll actually get my trilogy published or not. This is mostly an elaborate 'foundation' sort of thing. History building. And practicing my writing, so I'll be at my best when I get to the really important books that I'm wanting to write. :D

Gwendolyn said...

Very good, Jake! I like your suspense and your action is well done. This is definitely a great scene.

With the inclusion of the Job passage (which I love, by the way) you might want to space it out a bit more. Like write a line of action and a line of the poem. Do you get what I'm trying to say? Something like this:

"Shouts came from around me, and I saw other men coming from various places, clutching at harpoons. For a moment, I stood in stunned fear.

'Can you pull in the leviathan with a fishhook, or tie down his tongue with a rope?'

Despair flooded my mind.

'Can you put a cord through his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook?'"

Something like that. But perhaps it isn't your style. That's simply a suggestion. ^^

Another thing - try building up a bit more to the appearance of the leviathan. It seemed a bit rushed, at least to me. This could be stretched out and 'suspended' a bit more. =)

Jake said...

Thanks for the tips, Gwendolyn!

This excerpt is far from finished, however. I just did an hour-long edit on it, since it first was written. Mostly just to get rid of those dratted Wases. :D

Cora said...

I'd just meant to come over and thank you for your thoughts on WTB's post on the "Prodigal Father." But I can never pass up a story/critique! ;-)

Great job starting out with gripping action! I like! :-D One comment on the first paragraph: "...heavy rain, swaying as waves..." is a little hard to follow. Who is swaying? Me or Shad? Maybe you could split it into two sentences? "...heavy rains. I/He swayed..."

I love Gwendolyn's idea with the poem lines.

Sehr gut! (very good!)


Anonymous said...

Great excerpt Jake! I really liked it! =D I love the name WaveRunner!

Jake said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone! So far, this has been my most successful post ever... In terms of comments. :D

Thanks again!

Jake said...


I had to mess around for a half hour before I finally came up with the 'Waverunner'. Ships' names are quite important. You should see some of the other names I've thought up! Let's just say that the pirate who owned the ship I just spoke of ship had very bad taste in names... :D