A bright orange glow marked the camp of Prince Sadon and his Xarian allies some three hours ride from where Breck stood. Another large column moving north from Stormhaven would be here within twenty four hours. To the right, hills rose and then dipped to a vast swamp leading to the coast. With a mountain chain on his left there was nowhere to go. If he could get the wounded away before dawn they might stand a chance. His Eldari scouts could guide them through the swamp and with luck might get them to safety. Funnelling through the surrounding hills, a biting iced wind stung his cheeks. The grass, now silverish glitter, sparkling in the light of the moon.
Hey, looks great. You slap us right into the middle of things without worrying about backstory, which is good. You introduce some new terms but without the need to explain them, also good. One thing I might like to see is more characterization and less of the setting. Settings don't draw readers in, characters do. Maybe make your scenery do "double duty" by using it to describe more about the MC. Get us attached to him and then we'll care more about where he is. I'm thinking there should be a sense of urgency here, and that's better achieved through looking at the character and not his surroundings. Focusing on the scenery gives the feel of stillness and contemplation, whereas you might want more forward momentum at the start of the story.
Also, consider cutting or relocating the first several lines and starting with "If he could get the wounded away..." That might be a better starting sentence, achieve some urgency right away, and also make the reader want to know what's going on around them to inspire said urgency.
Otherwise, your descriptions are great and you convey a good feel for the setting. I like it.
[This message has been edited by J. N. Khoury (edited January 18, 2011).]
The first 13 lines are really nice and descriptive. I like your use of colors: orange glow from the camp, the grass a silvery glitter. I definitely like the setting, but, like J.N. Khoury mentioned, it would be nicer to start with more characterization.
As far as sentence structure, I found the first sentence a bit cumbersome.
quote: A bright orange glow marked the camp of Prince Sadon and his Xarian allies some three hours ride from where Breck stood.
When I read it because of the verb "stood" it made me think Breck was a person, but I get the feeling that it is supposed to be a location. Is it a city or fortification? If so, I would suggest the use of modifier such as "where castle Breck stood."
Other than that, I really like your style and setting. Good luck.
[This message has been edited by redux (edited January 18, 2011).]
I agree with the others about setting vs character at first.
Also, I find it difficult to visualize scenery with lefts and rights and too much topographical detail. I don't think I'm alone. Possibly getting the wounded out through the swamp is something I understand, but the rest sorta lost me. So keep in the bits that really influence the plot and characters, and yes, try to reveal something about the character from which details he sees.
Take the rest of the nice imagery and use it here and there to spice up the next few pages.
When I read this I thought the "getting the wounded away" line would have been a better first line as well.
As far as the characterization vs. setting description, I am not to worried about that for a first 13. Since this is a book start, I would be more willing to get the setting down. But I would be expecting to hear something about the Character soon after this.