Excerpt from “The Book of Secrets”

by Wes Penre, November 16, 2020

This is a short excerpt of the first draft from Chapter 1 of “The Book of Secrets,” the first volume in the trilogy called “Ismaril’s Journey.” Book 2 has the work title “Journey through the Underworld,” and Book 3 will possibly be called “The Final Battle.”


It was extremely discouraging to see this small group of Wolfmen boldly approaching their village with a larger legion waiting behind, greatly outnumbering the poorly armed villagers. Their leader, riding in front of the Wolfmen, was even scarier in his manner than they were. He was not a Wolfman, and he was riding on the back of a tall and shaggy Giant Boar. The beast looked like something coming straight from a nightmare, and almost half of his fur was missing, exposing big, pink areas with black spots. The beast alone, even without its rider, was scary enough to make any decent person want to run for their lives. It was anything but tame, although it still seemed to abide to its master’s will. Just like the Wolfmen rode bareback on their Ulves, so did this Boar rider.

The people of Eldholt were usually rather tall, but the man who rode the Boar was at least a foot taller than any of them. His entire presence emanated strength, entitlement, and grandiosity. He was dressed in a silver-colored armor, and a brown cloak hung from his shoulder. Not wearing any headgear and with his hood tossed back, his long, sandy hair was flowing with the wind. His face was clean shaven, and the steel-blue eyes were frosty and completely emotionless.

The small troop was slowly riding into the village without paying much attention to a group of unarmed villagers standing by the roadside, giving leeway to the riders, who stopped about twenty yards from the armed crowd of Eldholtans. The Ulves were growling and showing their teeth, and the Giant Boar was unpleasantly restless. The man on the beast looked at the crowd and started to talk with an authoritarian, derogatory voice.

“Listen up, citizens of Eldholt! We come with a request, and if you meet it, you have nothing to fear. We will then leave your peaceful land alone. Who of you is in charge?”

Llodaim stepped out a little bit more from the crowd and approached the leader, being careful not go get too close to the Giant Boar.

“I am the Chief,” he said, straightening his back, trying not to show how intimidated he was.

“Very good, old man,” said the leader with a smirk. “Then you are the one I need to talk to!” As he spoke, Llodaim noticed that the man held a thick branch in his hand.

The Council Chairman took a deep breath to be able to keep his voice steady.

“Who are you, and what is your errand here in our peaceful village?”

The rider of the Boar looked amused, while penetrating the old man with his cold eyes.

“How rude of me.” His voice was soft but slippery like grease. Llodaim got goosebumps. “You can call me Yongahur, and I am the Captain of these merry men. I am here in business. Accept my business deal, and you will suffer no harm.”

“What are you proposing?”

“We are looking for a young man, whom we know is here among your people. His name is Ismaril Salandruin. Where can I find him?”

If Llodaim was frightened before, the stranger’s request nearly made his heart stop. How did he know his name? he thought. Does this have something to do with Ismaril’s earlier soldier career? I am glad he is not here right now, but how can I protect our people from these villains? I don’t know how, but I need to somehow be clever and diplomatic. Our people don’t know how to fight an army like this, and I know they all count on me to help them out of the dilemma.

“Why would I tell you the whereabouts of any of our people?”

“Because you seem like a wise man, and wise men tell me what I want to know. I reward compliance, so I will give you a choice as my part of the deal: you tell me where this young man is, and we will take him with us. In exchange, no one will get hurt and we will have no more reason to return to this…adorable village.  However, if you refuse, many people will unfortunately die before this day is over.” The stranger, who had called himself Yongahur, bent forward, and his piercing eyes alone told the Village Chief that he didn’t accept any nonsense. His voice got harsher. “And don’t play games with me, old man! We know for a fact that Ismaril Salandruin is of this tribe, so don’t complicate things!”

Llodaim hesitated. “What do you want from this supposed Mr. Salandruin?”

Yongahur sneered. “I told you I’m here in business. My business with Ismaril Salandruin is between him and me! The deal between you and me is different!”

“If you are going to take one of our men with you against his will, you can rest assured it’s my business, too!” Llodaim said.

Yongahur’s voice turned deep and monotonous. “You don’t know who I am, and if you did, you would understand that I get what I want—one way or another. So, how are we going to do this? Are we in business or not?”

Llodaim pretended to resign, and he let out a big sigh, which also released some tension inside him. “Ismaril Salandruin is not here. He has left the village—”

“Where did he go?”

“I don’t know. He didn’t say—he rarely does.”

Yongahur showed his teeth. “You’re lying!” he spitted. “We had a talk with your friends down in Exióne, and after a little argument, they told me that Mr. Salandruin lives here these days! And you know exactly where he is! You can’t fool Yongahur and trying is not a healthy thing to do!”

“I don’t know what else to tell you…Yongahur!”

“Very well then, you have made your choice, but you’re a liar. You know where he is, and you won’t tell me.”

“We are not defenseless,” said Llodaim, using all his willpower to face up to Yongahur. “We are armed, too!”

The Wolfmen who accompanied Yongahur started growling, showing their yellow teeth, reaching for their swords and crossbows.

“You’re making my friends here impatient,” Yongahur snarled. “We are not afraid of you people. Defenseless prey is what you are. Pathetic!”

Llodaim knew the stranger was right, and his heart sank. He is accompanied by a couple of hundred warriors, who certainly have been in battle many times, he thought. They are at least twice as many in numbers and four times our strength, while we are ill armed and without fighting experience. May the Goddess have mercy on us—for they intend to kill us all! I know most of our men expect me to tell Yongahur where Ismaril is to save the village, but I know this evil pack. They are incapable of compassion and mercy. These savages eat their own women and children—and they are known to eat their enemies alive, too! Even if I tell them where Ismaril is, they will catch him and still kill us—it’s their nature. My people, if some of them survive, will never understand my reasoning because they don’t know these monsters.

“We won’t fall for your threats, Yongahur!” Llodaim said, now in a more authoritarian tone. “However, you are correct on one point: even if I did know Mr. Salandruin’s whereabouts, I wouldn’t tell you. Why? Because I know the nature of your kind, sir. You will kill us either way!”

Yongahur sat quiet for a moment before he replied, “You have my word.”

“…which means nothing!”

“Don’t challenge Yongahur!” His Boar seemed to feel his master’s rage and started to squeal eerily, eager to attack the crowd of villagers.

“And don’t project your own lies on me, stranger!” Llodaim added. “You are the liar here!”

Yongahur turned around and signaled to the army waiting further down the road, and the entire legion started charging. “For Eldholt!” Llodaim shouted and drew his sword. The rest of the villagers drew their weapons, too. “May our Goddess help us!!!”


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14 thoughts on “Excerpt from “The Book of Secrets”

  1. Dear visitor! Please leave feedback, if you feel comfortable with it. That’s how I learn.

    Feedback is important, whether it’s positive feedback or not. That’s how I learn. Sitting here writing is just me in my own universe, but I have no idea how it’s received by others.

    If there is something you feel needs improvement, constructive criticism can be gold worth. After all, you are the reader 🙂 . I’m writing for you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. @Ineedtostay … Thank you much for your comment/input, which is greatly appreciated. Just keep in mind that this is fiction, and in fiction, things happen (are being said) for a reason to either move the plot forward or, in this case, to establish a certain mindset that will be expanded upon later.

      I know…people are used to me writing non-fiction. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. nhojllang

      I feel I could get into reading some more. I think your descriptions of the characters & animals are interesting. I like the Giant Boar, so brutal & sinister! You set the “mood” spot on. Good writing. Thx.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I enjoyed the excerpt, so far. Very interesting. In contrast to a previous comment regarding the use of “May the Goddess help us all”…I see it entirely appropriate. Given this is a work of fiction, including fictional setting and a period in “time”, I would see it very likely people would call on a “deity” for help. Looking forward to reading more, AND the book when it’s finally made available.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Neo

    Wonderful writing as usual, Wes! I feel sorry for myself that I can’t join your forum only for financial reasons, but I’m always lurking in the guest section and devouring everything every one writes, not to mention you first as my sincere but never seen friend, philosopher and guide. I just bought the ‘kindle’ edition of Justin’s book and can’t wait for yours to come out. I’ll be the 1st one to buy your books. I can’t be a patreon member, but at least I can buy your books! All of them… No matter how many you write. In fact the more the better… Thank you for showing me the true way, I am and I’ll remain eternally grateful to you for this ‘Ultimate Gift of TRUTH’. Much much love and Mom’s blessings for everything you did and continue to do… 💖💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Neo, and thanks for the wonderful feedback! No need to feel bad for not joining me on Patreon–I understand. Knowing that you are eager to buy the books is a great encouragement for me. Love, Wes.

      Like

  4. Evan Daily

    If you want honest, I’ll give you my honest first impression with the intention to help you. The names are difficult to grasp. It takes me out of the flow of the story when I need to stop and try to figure out how to say the name in my head. I find myself just passing over the names instead and then I fail to form any connection to the characters. Would you consider narrating some of these excerpts so that we can hear how these names are pronounced? I know you love Tolkein, but you don’t need to copy him and I get the feeling that is what you are trying to do and where this story is going. That story has already been told. Just be yourself. We want to see what comes from the mind of Wes Penre, not the mind of Penre pretending to write like Tolkien. Develop your own style. Paint me a picture so I can see it in my mind. You put emphasis on being tall at the beginning, but you haven’t given me any frame of reference to what is considered tall in this world. Taller than what? Give me some type of setting and work on creating the world if this is the beginning of the story. It doesn’t need to be focused only on the dialogue. It’s hard to tell just from this excerpt so I’ll wait to see if more descriptions are included later. I know you are just in the beginning of writing. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Evan, and thank you for your constructive criticism! No, this is not the opening part of the story–there has already been some introduction to this scenario before it plays out. It’s difficult to pick excerpts and publish–particularly when not too much has been written yet, so it’s going to be “out of context” for the reader. Don’t want to spoil too much of the story, either.

      Thanks for letting me know how you feel about the names, and I think you are correct. That is something I need to think about.

      Yes, the novel is Tolkien-ish like most fantasy novels, but that will change. It will have its own unique settings and plot/story structures that will be more noticeable in context and as the novel progresses.

      I really appreciate your feedback and I am taking everything I get back into consideration.

      Like

      1. Evan Daily

        Hey! Thanks for reading my comment and commenting back! It’s good to know that you are so open to feedback. I can’t wait to see where you go with this.

        The best writers draw from their own personal experience. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. There is a particularly helpful and well-known phrase that all aspiring new authors usually come across and it is “Write what you know.” The most successful authors take experiences from their own lives and put it in their stories. Roald Dahl was very well known for taking his own childhood experiences and weaving these things through his writing and into various characters. Reading fantasy is fun but writing it can be difficult especially if you want to grab the attention of your readers and keep them interested. Write for your audience. Don’t forget that Tolkien wrote childhood fantasy. The same goes for Dahl, C.S. Lewis, and even J.K. Rowling with her highly successful Harry Potter series. Most of these are generally considered to be in the category of children’s literature and not all of them are similar to Tolkien, like you say. Some are quite different! I guess it just depends on how much you have read from these other authors. Your followers and the people you are writing for are not children and I hope you will keep us interested by including some adult character themes and story arcs.

        Take what you have experienced and put that into your characters. Which character in the story is you? The correct answer should be all of them. This is how to write something your readers can relate to. Not everyone will connect with the same character, but there should be someone for everyone in each story. I look forward to reading about your progress and I just want to see you succeed. I wish the best to you, Wes.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hi again Evan, and thanks for getting back!

          Any serious writer I think knows that feedback from the readers is CRUCIAL–that’s also where beta readers come into the picture, eventually. A writer who only sits in his ivory tower is disconnected from the readers and can’t get any constructive feedback from those whom the novel is written for. So feedback is extremely important to me!

          Yes, this is an adult novel, drawn from both my own research, personality traits, and experiences. I don’t recognize your name, but if you don’t know me from before, I wrote the Wes Penre Papers (wespenre.com) and I currently have a blog at wespenrevideos.com with much information on it. I have written a lot in my life, but it’s all been non-fiction. This is my first attempt to write a fiction novel, which is something I’ve wanted to do for years and years. So, I’m extremely excited and disciplined about it. As I go along, and if you are interested in following my progress, feel free to give me future feedback.

          In addition to drawing inspiration from my own life, the plot in this trilogy is based on the Wes Penre Papers and the Gnostic texts, which I have researched quite a bit and have written articles about at wespenrevideos.com, in conjunction with my partner, Ariel Glad. Tolkien was a Roman Catholic, but whether he was aware of it or not, his Silmarillion was highly Gnostic, and so was his Middle-Earth worldview. I think that was a major reason people felt so familiar with his work already from the start, without understanding why. I want to bring the Gnostic idea to its conclusion in this trilogy.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Evan Daily

            Commendable effort. You have a lot of work ahead of you! I am familiar with your previous work and that is why I have been interested in following this new project.
            I have seen that you can compile the research and information coming from others into your own works, and so yes you can write. However, can you tell a story? Or will you take a story that has already been written (Tolkien-ish) and just repackage it and call it original. There’s a big difference between being able to write and being able to enchant an audience and have them follow an original and new story. That’s what I’m waiting to see.
            You don’t need to tell your potential readers the moral of your stories or the motives before they even read the books. That is the journey that your books will take the readers on. Your characters aren’t the only ones having this journey. If you write it well, the readers will also go through this journey and come out of it with those conclusions for themselves.
            What was The Hobbit about? It was about a Hobbit who lived in a hole. That’s it. That’s all we knew going into it. The rest was the journey that we eagerly undertook and went on ourselves along with Bilbo. You’re telling people what they should get out of your books. Let them be the ones who will discover the journey with your characters and not everyone will take away the same messages. That doesn’t mean it is any less profound if they don’t quite get what you wanted them to get out of it. If you are telling people what they should get out of this story you are discreetly implying that there is a correct and an incorrect way to read your stories and that’s a little insulting to this reader (me). Let me figure out what the story means to me.
            To be honest, I wish I hadn’t read that above comment. Once I read something like that, I can’t forget it and it will be in the back of my mind as I read your excerpts (if I continue). Do you see what you did by telling me that? You’ve taken the journey away from me.
            Going into the unknown means not knowing where you will end up. You’ve just told me where I will end up. That means it’s no longer an unknown. The story must remain unknown to hook readers in and have them turning the next page, in my opinion. Some of that is gone for me, now.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Thanks, Evan! There is so much more to it than what I revealed in my previous comment to you, so I figured I could reveal that much, but thinking twice about it, I believe you’re right. I shouldn’t have given you (and others) that information. Sorry that I ruined that part of the journey for you…There are probably a few more people who have read our conversation, so the same applies to them. I am actually going to revise my reply to you with what you said in mind. It will prevent future visitors from having the same experience.

              Thanks again, and I appreciate it!

              Liked by 1 person

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