Tag Archives: Sartorially Smart Heroines

First Empress – End of the Prologue

End of the prologue. A nice little twist.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

So here’s the ending of the prologue to First Empress. Originally the prologue ended with Viarra confronting her uncle at the end of scene 5, but later I had an idea that I hope puts an unexpected twist on Viarra’s character. It’s a short scene that doesn’t even include Viarra, but hopefully it opens up some interesting implications about the novel’s world. As always, any feedback is welcome!


“Come to gloat, General Derron?” Duke Elladan accused as the general dismissed the guard outside his cell.

Derron waited for what Elladan suspected was long enough for the guards to be out of earshot before replying. “No, in fact I came to thank you,” the general replied, tossing a wineskin into the cell. “Believe it or not,” he continued, “you saved me a great deal of time and effort. You did what you saw as necessary for our people, and, despite…

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First Empress Prologue, (scene 5)

We see just how tough Queen Viarra really is.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

Scene Five of the prologue is where I first get to show readers how tough Queen Viarra is. I imply it in scene 2 when Lady Synnis tells Ronnius about how her majesty slew five armed hoplites by herself, but it’s the following scene where I show readers just how freaking tough she is. Critically wounded, Viarra still makes a showy public appearance when her soldiers apprehend her uncle who sent soldiers to murder her brothers. She does this to show her people what she’s suffered while fighting for them. She seeks to inspire them to keep on fighting for their homes and families, despite her uncle’s treachery and the death of their king.

Too, I’m establishing here that while her uncle’s betrayal was the catalyst for her ascension to the throne, he is not one of the primary antagonists in the story. She confronts her uncle, the soldiers side…

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First Empress Prologue (scene 4)

First Empress Prologue Part 4! Queen Viarra and her supporters discuss some of the brutal realities of the world they live in.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

Shoot. So I figured out yesterday that I completely forgot to post the remaining scenes from the First Empress prologue to SSH. Sorry about that. I’ll post the rest today and tomorrow.

So I lied in my intro to scene 1, there’s actually six scenes in the prologue, I just divided them up into five posts. This scene features Queen Viarra talking shop/politics with Ronnius after the physician, Esset, finishes bandaging her. Ronnius was originally one of the characters I’d considered as a significant other to Viarra, before she and Elissa came out to me as lesbians. Instead of Ronnius’s rescue of the title heroine in the prologue leading to an eventual relationship, Queen Viarra rewards Ronnius by making him her kingdom’s steward when she’s away. As always, any feedback is most welcome. (Scenes 1, 2&3)


Ronnius wasn’t sure how long he’d been asleep when Esset quietly…

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First Empress Prologue (scenes 2 & 3)

Scenes two and three of the prologue to First Empress. We meet one of Queen Viarraluca’s teachers, and we get a look at what it means to be a hero and survive in this world.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

So I opted to put scenes 2 and 3 of the prologue together, since they’re both relatively short. Scene 2 introduces the physician/apothecary Esset who, like Ronnius and Lady Synnis, I’d intended larger roles for when originally planning the story out (in contrast with Elissa, who didn’t even have a name in my original draft of scene 1, but who eventually ended up cast as Queen Viarra’s lover). Scene 3 brings in General Derron, one of Viarra’s mentors and commander of her island forces.


Ronnius didn’t bother knocking when they arrived at Esset’s shop; he kicked the door in and barged up the stairs to the old man’s bedroom. “What in the—?” Esset yelped as Ronnius jerked him out of bed. “Ronnius? What in the hells has gotten into you, man?”

“There’s been an attack on the royal estate,” Ronnius said shortly, dragging the old man down the stairs…

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First Empress Prologue (scene 1)

The beginning of Dubiousbyhabit’s saga of the extraordinary Queen Viarraluca. I can’t recommend it enough. Fascinating characters, an awesome protagonist, a fantasy setting that’s different from your generic Tolkien-based sword & sorcery #3786…this is some good stuff.

One warning, though: Dubious does not soften the brutality inherent in a bronze age setting. There will be times that even the heroes horrify you.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

Hi folks! So in preparation for NaNoWriMo, I’m going to go ahead and post excerpts to my blog and Tumblr. Partly I’m hoping for feedback, but I also just want people to be able to read and enjoy. The novel starts with a five-scene prologue, saved as chapter00 on my computer. Scene 1 was the very first scene I started writing in NaNoWriMo 2013. I began with a short epigram from Zahnia, the Chronicler and start in semi medias res. This first scene has undergone fairly extensive revision and will likely undergo many more. Feedback and comments are always welcome.


Would you like to hear my story? It’s a story about Empress Viarraluca, Tollesia’s greatest heroine and wisest ruler. There are many stories about her, you know—some truer than others. Some are based on research. Some are based on folklore. Some say she reigned for over two-hundred years…

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Princess of the Fire Nation, by Elésiane Huve

Sartorially Smart Heroines‘s sharp-as-usual analysis of Princess Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

It should be noted that Azula’s choice of outfit is not unexpected. The Fire Nation royal family has a tradition of leading from the front: Azula’s uncle Iroh, the Fire Nation crown prince until he abdicated in favor of her father, led the Fire Nation’s campaign against the Earth Kingdom. His son, Azula’s cousin Lu Ten, was killed at the siege of Ba Sing Se, the Earth Kingdom capital (which is a good example of why a lot of real-world monarchs don’t lead from the front. The line of succession can be broken really quickly that way). They’re well-suited to doing so, being some of the most powerful and best-trained firebenders around. And when they do, they wear standard Fire Nation military uniforms.

What I find particularly fascinating about Azula is her character arc. In season 2, she’s as SSH describes her: brilliant, vicious, and deadly. In season 3, however, we’re reminded that she’s still a 14-year-old girl. One who has, in her way, been abused as badly as her brother Zuko. Her father has forged her into a weapon, and she’s unable to function as anything else: she doesn’t know how to interact with people her own age (she tends to revert to her default mode of precise military timing, loud shouting and explosions), she believes in the absolute power of fear to control people and doesn’t know what to do when it fails, and she begins to decompensate when she’s taken out of an action-oriented role and put into an administrative one.

Of course, that last could be because she’s been put into the now-redundant role of Firelord after her father has declared himself worldwide emperor, proving that she was only ever a tool for him to use.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

azulaPrincess Azula, by Aliciane Art (Elésiane Huve)

Long Feng: “You have beaten me at my own game.”
Azula: “Don’t flatter yourself. You were never even a player.”

Re-watching episodes of A:TLA while writing this. I’ll admit that I’m a relative latecomer to the Avatar: the Last Airbender fandom. I didn’t actually watch the series until after I’d bought all four seasons of The Legend of Korra, and I didn’t even watch Korra until a couple months after the series had ended. But I have to say that I love the Avatar Universe. I fell completely in love with the story, world-building, and characters. While the show features a stellar cast, all around, the Last Airbender character I felt most brilliantly written was the main villainess, Fire Nation Princess Azula.

I love that she’s so cartoonishly evil but without being cartoonishly inept—an extremely rare balance in storytelling. On top of…

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Yet another MJ Barros Commission

Another portrait of Dubiousbyhabit’s Queen Viarraluca, from the upcoming fantasy novel First Empress, looking thoroughly awe-inspiring. Portrait is, once again, by MJ Barros, whose skills also remain awe-inspiring.

And I do recommend checking out “Portrait four”. It’s just as NSFW as Dubious warns, but it’s also beautiful.

Sartorially Smart Heroines

Queen Viarraluca

“I’ll admit you’re not at all what I was expecting, your majesty. At worst, I was expecting you to be another intelligent, powerful, ambitious ruler, like myself or Queen Sita: yet another damned rival to vie for power with. Instead you’re something far worse. You’re… power and intelligence made manifest. You’re something neither Sita nor I could hope to attain. And it’s likely I’ll spend the rest of my life praying you never find cause to come south and take my empire from me.”
—Emperor Orvandius, reigning Hegemon of the Empire of Pellastor

So I commissioned the lovely MJ Barros for a fifth portrait from my novel. Portraits 1, 2, and 3, I posted to Sartorially Smart Heroines, but portrait four was a little too NSFW for the blog (MJ posted it here if anyone is interested and not at work or school). MJ gave me two…

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