The current cover does not show the adventurous nature of the story and is a bit too cartoonish for the book based on early feedback. I am looking for something that is more daring and will grab the attention of a 9 or 10 year old boy in the book store that is looking for a fantasy adventure novel.
Here is a brief synopsis of the start of the book with some quoted excerpts market with <<>>
Horace, George and Ingle are three brothers aged 15-17 growing up in a time of relative calm in a land once dominated by great battles called Galray - an expansive kingdom that stretches as far as the eye can see. The Kingdom has enjoyed peace and prosperity for many years under the watchfulness of the knight's council and the strong leadership of their father King Reynold.
Horace and George are the younger twins and have shown a strong affinity for becoming knights whereas Ingle spends much of his time perfecting the art of cooking and baking with the artisan chefs from throughout the lands.
There is a fierce storm raging outside that interrupts the brothers from a game of chess – their favorite game with a dazzling display of nature’s fury and lightening that comes very close to the castle. They decide to lay down their game and venture into the watch tower in the middle of the storm and witness the enormous lightning strikes in one of the villages, causing fires that the villagers cannot seem to control. In the darkness of the tower, Horace and George encounter a figure in the shadows that is also watching and they see leap from the tower and disappear into the night.
<< The tower was constructed during a time of war with a near perfect view around both the castle and the surrounding lands. The stone pillars that supported the roof were placed evenly toward the center of the octagon-shaped stone platform to provide an unobstructed walkway around the outside with only a subtle row of stones that formed a lip to prevent someone from moving too close to the edge ..... Horace and George slipped silently into the shadows to get closer to what they believed was someone or something else on the platform while Ingle continued to stare out across the valley. Suddenly a dark figure leapt from the shadows toward the side of the platform and disappeared into the night as if carried off by some magical wind. Horace and George looked back to see Ingle observing the chaos in the village below.>>
Later at the council meeting their father King Reynold makes the unusual choice to appoint his son Ingle to the investigation that is to be led by another King’s son from the council named Roland. Ingle and Roland set out to investigate the scene of the fire and uncover a strange substance with an unusual smell that Ingle can faintly recognize from his time in the kitchens. The next day, Roland anxiously sets out to see the Oracle of the mountains, while Ingle visits the kitchen and enlists his teacher to help him uncover what the substance could be. After uncovering that something or someone had coated the village roofs with a sort of film that burns when wet, Ingle now sets out to enlist his brothers. Later that night they set out to find Roland and warn him that someone is working against their father and that the kingdom may be in danger.
The boys didn’t know that tonight would be the start of an adventure that would change the course of their lives. What starts as a simple storm turns into a race to save the kingdom. Dragon’s, myths and betrayal lay ahead as the three brothers are forced to lead and become men.
Later in the book there are a few scenes that may also be good for the cover as well - i will provide the actual text surrounding.
[Horace, George, Ingle and Roland make the hard ride out towards the mountains and leave the horses to begin the climb to the visit the oracle.
<<Roland kept a few paces ahead to lead the way. They carefully proceeded over the large boulders that had replaced the path, which slowed their progress. The temperature had dropped rapidly, so the cold and wind pierced their wool and leather outfits, making every step
even more challenging than the previous one. By this time, darkness had set in, and Roland tried with no success to light a torch in the strong gusty wind. “We must keep going; I think I see a light,” Ingle said.
Fate actually kept them from lighting a torch, and the darkness led them toward the only light they saw. The darkness allowed them to see the faint glow of the cave where surely the Oracle lived. A rush of energy engulfed the three, and they hurriedly crested the last few obstacles before reaching the cave’s entrance. They stood in wonder for a long while before taking the first step inside.>>
They encounter the oracle by chance in a beautifully ornate structure built into the mountain.]
[They once again meet up with George and the 4 set out towards the Dragons, deeper in the mountains.
<<Without warning, the sky darkened and the wind grew so strong that they could barely advance. “I can barely move,” George yelled. “Me as well,” Horace said, noticing that they were now held captive until whatever weather or other unseen power passed. They felt helpless and were overtaken by a sense of fear that they hadn’t yet experienced on their journey. The wind’s force was strong, but unusually warm, and
the smell of dragons was thick in the air. Before they could draw their weapons, four large, winged, black and gray dragons landed on the edge of a small rock cliff in front of them, which stilled the wind.>>
Horace, George and Ingle are escorted by winged dragons the incredible dragon palace made of pure jade to meet with the dragon king. They find in their meeting that Hartok had beat them there and had concluded the treaty in their father's absence a fact that did not sit well with any of them.]
[The companions are interrupted by the sound of the Dragon coming from the sky to attack them – Roland, Horace and George jump into battle with their swords while Ingle takes a defensive position with his bow.
<<Their swords penetrated the dragon’s thick scales, but didn’t seem to slow her as they ducked the cold sting of her breath and the hard blows from her strong claws with their shields. They were gaining ground, but not fast enough and quickly were tiring from the fight. With the bow in-hand, Ingle took cover behind the carriage and launched his first arrows toward the dragon’s chest ...... From his archery training, he knew that the dragon had a tiny, soft, vulnerable area near her heart. He steadied himself and took aim, hearing the words of his instructors gently reminding him to listen to the bow’s strings.>>
– They beat the dragon back, and Ingle launches a near-fatal strike with his arrow putting the dragon to the ground.]