Jeanne: The Sign of a Master Storyteller

Have you ever picked up a book and within a few pages or even just a few sentences found yourself relaxing back into your chair and smiling because you already know that you’re in for a great ride?

Recently, on the advice of Eight Lady Jilly (who found it from a recommendation from This Is a Good Book Thursday on Jenny Crusie’s Argh blog) I picked up Lord of Stariel by A.J. Lancaster. The prologue (which is titled “An Ominous Prologue”) is only half a page in length. It shows someone named King Aeros activating a gate to a non-faerie realm.

His touch fell upon a stone acorn buried among the leaves. He drew up ropes of magic, filling the air with his signature of storms and metal, and twisted. The space between the stone columns shimmered.

“The Iron Law is revoked. The Mortal Realm is open to us once again.” His smile widened.

It was not a nice smile.

And just like that, I was hooked. It was clear from the nine-paragraph prologue that Ms. Lancaster was a masterful storyteller and that I was in good hands. I finished the book late last week and it kept its promise.

That got me to thinking about other times I’ve had that experience of knowing right off the bat that I was in the hands of a master storyteller.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, gave me that feeling.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

It did not end well.

I loved that book enough that a few years later, on the strength of Ms. Taylor’s descriptions of Prague, I took a riverboat cruise from Paris (which I’d always wanted to see) to Prague. Both were amazing (and the rivers in between, with neat German vineyards climbing steep hills on either side, weren’t too shabby either).

Another book like this is Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon. Before the first chapter, there’s a statement:

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