Compare the openings: which is better?

I’ve been wondering whether I got it right when I re-wrote the start of the Princelings of the East to draw you into the action more quickly.  Maybe the more descriptive start would settle you into the world of the Princelings better?  It felt like a huge change at the time, but the amount of the re-write is short enough to put both versions here for you to compare.

Here is the original version, followed by the published version.  Please read both, then vote for the one you think works better!

The original opening of the Princelings of the East

The castle could be seen from a long way off, its many spires rising out of the plain where the reeds whispered in the wind.  The sun glinted on the ramparts and as you got closer, you could see that it was built on an outcrop of rock, strangely alone in the middle of the miles of marsh that surrounded it.

In a room at the top of one of the tallest spires, a young princeling sat gazing out of the open window.  His hair was a pale golden colour and he had a crest of the same shade that fell forward above his eyes giving him a somewhat rakish appearance.  Fred, for that was his name, was much given to gazing out of the window, any window would do, but this one was his favourite.  He was also much given to Thinking, and at present he was thinking about the wind in the reeds, and why, if the wind was blowing in his face, was it blowing the reeds in different directions around the castle?

For Fred was a Philosopher, not one of the self-important ones who ask deep and unfathomable questions like what is the Meaning of Life?  or if I Think, does it mean that I Am?  Fred’s thoughts, though deep, were more along the lines of natural philosophy, and his quandary about the wind could, he thought, be fathomed if he could only persuade his brother George to devise some way of mapping what the wind was doing as it blew across the marsh and into the castle.  Yes, he thought, that is the way forward, and he sighed.

An answering sigh met his.  He turned, and there was George, looking rather relieved that he had found a way to attract Fred’s attention without interrupting him mid-Think.  Fred was apt to be grumpy if disturbed in the middle of a Think.

“We might be in trouble, Fred,” said George.  “My latest engine stopped working.  The trouble is everything in the castle stopped working at the same time.  Uncle Vlad is not happy.”

“Does he blame you?”  Fred asked, with a frown, as he was sure it couldn’t be George’s experiments causing the problem.  This Energy Drain had been happening every now and then for years now, and he had Thought about it a few times.  (continues)

The published version:

George was suspended in mid-air, his legs dangling from the ceiling of one room while his arms scrabbled furiously for a hold on the floor of the room above.  He was trying very hard to do it silently, but it was a bit difficult.

He had jumped up through the trap door in the ceiling as usual, but realised that his brother Fred was gazing out of the open window in this top-most tiny room in the turret of the castle, their ancestral home.  So he had stopped in mid-jump, and then realised that gravity would take over if he didn’t find a better hold.  If Fred was gazing out of the window across the miles of marsh that surrounded them, that meant he was Thinking.  Fred was apt to be grumpy if disturbed in the middle of a Think.  So George had a dilemma: hold on tight and keep quiet, or drop back again and risk making a noise landing on the accumulated junk in the room below him.

Fred was much given to gazing out of the window, any window would do, but this one was his favourite.  He was also much given to Thinking, and at present he was thinking about the wind in the reeds, and why, if the wind was blowing in his face, was it blowing the reeds in different directions around the castle?  If he were to be asked his occupation, Fred would describe himself as a Natural Philosopher, one who thought about the whys and wherefores of nature, trying to understand how the world worked.  His exploration of the nature of the wind could, he thought, be furthered if he could only persuade his brilliant brother George to devise some way of mapping what the wind was doing as it blew across the marsh and into the castle.  Yes, he thought, that is the way forward, and he sighed.

An answering sigh met his and George gratefully clambered the rest of the way into the room.  He looked rather relieved that he had found a way to attract Fred’s attention without interrupting him mid-Think.

“We might be in trouble, Fred,” he said.  “My latest engine stopped working.  The trouble is everything in the castle stopped working at the same time.  Uncle Vlad is not happy.”

“Does he blame you?”  Fred asked, with a frown, as he was sure it couldn’t be George’s engineering experiments causing the problem.  This Energy Drain had been happening every now and then for years now, and he had Thought about it a few times.  (continues)

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