May 18, 2010

Query - The Shard, epic fantasy 130,000 words

Three years ago the minor noble MIDAS lost a son in an ambush by a troll. Now with his marriage crumbling and the Known Lands threatened by an invasion from a mysterious race of dragon men, Midas is torn between his duty to raise his two remaining sons -- peaceful ANTOS and ultra-competitive ALEKAS -- to be proper warriors, and the insistence of his wife that he keep the boys safe.

He takes his sons to war, but hopes to shield them from danger. His intentions go awry when a seer involves them in a plan to defeat the dragon men by finding a shard of a shattered magical relic, lost centuries ago in the lair of the most vicious dragon ever known.

After surviving the dragon, cannibals, deadly ice-wraiths, and a chase through a lost underground city, Midas and his remaining friends find the shard and join the armies of men, elves, and dwarves to confront the horde of dragon men, only to discover that the magic of the shard doesn’t work as expected. Midas is faced with the most excruciating of decisions -- save his sons, or save the realm and risk losing everyone that he loves.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't put the names of characters in all caps.

Erinn said...

You have a plot summary here.

If the king wants to shield his sons from danger, why would he bring them into battle.

You need a final paragraph saying the word count and genre, maybe even comparing it to another book. It's can't be in the subject line like it currently is.

It's pretty tight, just a few more tweeks.

Ted Cross said...

I do have those paragraphs with word count and such, but I just wanted to put the meat of the query here instead of worrying about standard paragraphs.

He brings his sons because of what I say early on - he considers it his duty to raise his sons to be proper leaders.

I can take the caps off; I just got that from some agent site somewhere.

I do appreciate all help to make this better. One person told me to remove the names of his sons.

Matthew Rush said...

I knew this was your book Ted!

I think the characters in caps thing comes from movie scripts, as far as I know this is not necessary for novels.

Ted Cross said...

Thanks Matt. The question remains can this query be much better than it is? I think that removing the part with the names of the sons will help highlight Midas's main trouble better. I figure since this is my first real stab at this that it can't be all that good yet. I'm hoping an expert can really shine a light on the weak spots.

gj said...

This looks pretty solid to me. I might suggest adding a line or phrase or some sort of indication that gives the protagonist a little more personality. Make it clear how much of a family man he is. For some men (not being sexist here; it's true of some women too), breaking up his family wouldn't be all that big a deal. And make it clear how much of a leader -- true statesman, if you will -- he really is, so again, abandoning his country is also completely against his grain.

Perhaps wallow a bit more in the loss of the first son and how he blames himself, and perhaps questions his role as a leader at this cost, but no, he owes it to his people, etc., and SHOW rather than TELL how much he loves those sons (and his country), so the final decision isn't just a distant and theoretical quandary, but a personal and emotional one.

Nicole said...

Deadly ice-wraiths sound fantastic! I love epic fantasy, so I hope I can be helpful on finessing this. You have a very nice start.

I agree with the earlier comments about not mentioning the sons by name. Truthfully, your descriptions made me anticipate a Cain and Abel complex. I'm not sure that's what you want here, so I think it's safer to leave off those details.

A few other lines that raised flags for me:

- "Most vicious dragon ever known" - This might be true, but the phrasing sounds like you're over-reaching. I think you can still keep the tension if you say "legendary dragon" or "notoriously vicious dragon."

- "Join the armies of men, elves and dwarves" - This immediately made me think of LOTR. Not necessarily a bad thing. However, it can also give the impression that this is a stale storyline. I'd try a slightly different phrasing.

Good luck - sounds like a great story!

Ted Cross said...

Thanks for the help. @gj, I would love to put that kind of stuff in, but it would really lengthen the query letter and everything I read tells me I have to keep it down.

@Nicole, I can probably remove the Tolkienesque references, though it bothers me that publishers don't recognize there is a big audience for this kind of fantasy and pan it for being derivative. The dragon really is that bad! He has made the entire eastern portion of the realm uninhabitable for 8 centuries.

myliteraryquest said...

This might be nit picky but is there any connection between your Midas and legendary King Midas of the Golden touch? If so great build on it a touch, if not do you really want to use a name that has so much literary history?

Is the 'marriage crumbling' a vital part of the story? If so, you might want to tell the reader a tiny bit more.

If your dragon is so terrible and legendary then he deserves to have his name mentioned in the query, especially if a large portion of the book includes him.

The two list elements in the third paragraph "dragon, cannibals, ice wraiths," and "men, elves, and dwarves," introduce way too many elements in too short of time. Either find a way to expand the idea and let us know why they are important or consider removing them.