I just stopped by to see what's happening here and to add a comment about opening lines . . . pages . . . and chapters.
I'm reading a novel right now that I almost "shelved" before I'd finished the first page. I'm up to page 103 now, and still wondering if my life will be any better for having read this book.
It's too bad, because the premise is good, the struggle between eastern and western Christianity, Rome and Byzantium, during the time of the Crusades, with a little Middle Ages medicine thrown in. My favourite kind of book, a "hist-myst."
But my observations . . .
1. The first paragraph is wordy, detailed, and confusing, with no clear definition of time and place and "who."
2. Throughout the first paragraph, pages, and all the way to page 103, there are references to prior happenings, done in such a way to be vague, and the "tone" is that the reader should be able to decipher the "information."
It's not done in a "hook" kind of way, luring the reader in with a bit of mystery . . . but rather, it makes me think I'm reading a sequel, not a "stand alone" book, as the publishers have declared in the fly leaf. As if I should know this information, and can start gathering clues or at least forming an affinity with the MC.
Perhaps, the author is thinking she is building suspense by being clever and vague, but the overall result is confusing.
3. I'm fairly sure the withheld "tidbits" have NO bearing on the outcome of the story. It's a cheap shot, then.
I've learned from this novel, and the two I've just read, also about "church" in the Middles Ages, that it's just fine to reveal information in an obvious way and STILL maintain an aura of mystery. If you're wanting to leave clues right from the opening lines, be smart about it.
"What remains of a story after it is finished? Another story..." Eli Wiesel