I’d like your opinion. Which of the following two opening sentences (for a somewhat steampunkish YA science fiction novel) intrigues you more, and why?
Just after the the Amazing Belgrani made himself disappear in a puff of purple smoke, and while the stage was being set for the supposedly spectacular high-wire fire-eating act of the Seventh Tier Acrobats’ Association, Alania Beruthi polished off the last bite of honeyberry sorbet, signalled to the red-liveried servants to bring the main course, looked up at the holographic stars, and wished she were somewhere else–anywhere else, anywhere except sitting at a glowing crystal table in the Great Hall of Quarters Beruthi, celebrating her fifteenth birthday.
On her fifteenth birthday, Alania Beruthi sat alone in the cavernous main dining room of Quarters Beruthi and awaited the arrival of her Guardian.
The long table of black ironwood stretched away into the gloom like a road leading to some dark lord’s fortress. Alania did not sit at its head: that place was reserved for the room’s owner, Ipsil Beruthi, a Second Lieutenant of the City and thus entitled to this grand dwelling-place on the Twelfth Tier, just two below the Captain’s Quarters on the Fourteenth. Instead, Alania sat on one side, hands folded in her lap as she had been instructed, staring at the white china with the crest of the City in its center and the Beruthi rank stripes circling its edge, noting how the silver forks, knives and spoons gleamed in the light of the hanging glowtubes above (tuned to candlelight frequency for tonight’s dinner), wondering which of the contents of Beruthi’s wine cabinet would be poured into the multifacted crystal glass that glinted like diamond in that same yellow light.