Aug 30, 2010

Query: The Frog Princes of Adelai

Dear Agent,

Risse cai Bricandor is a young noblewoman with a secret: she’s learning how to do magic, forbidden since the Great War nine hundred years ago. When she meets Prince Chyrian, who not only smells intriguingly like spice and salt but, unknowing, has potent personal magic, Risse throws herself into the politics of her country to machinate a union with him to access that magic.

But there are complications. First, Chyrian is from Sivar, the pariah country that incited the Great War. Risse’s family doesn’t want their eldest daughter to ally herself with a Sivarene, especially since Risse is the cousin and close friend of the heir to the throne, Princess Alysia. And Sivar has bigger plans for its prince than marrying a minor noble.

When Alysia is spirited away by her fairy godmother to “await her true love” (actually a form of protective custody) and the king is assassinated, Risse seizes the opportunity to become the new heir. With her new political power, she can gain control of Chyrian’s magic and reintroduce magic to the world. And Sivar even seems to help at first. But Risse learns that Sivar intends to take over Adelai, with her cooperation or without it. Alysia escapes her tower and wants her throne back. Risse’s magic becomes harder and harder to control. And to keep everything she’s gained, Risse must sacrifice Alysia, her family, and her country’s future—or she can give up everything she’s ever wanted to become the most hated person since the mages of the Great War.

The Frog Princes of Adelai is a fantasy novel complete at 109,000 words. This is my first novel.

Thank you for your time.


Anonymous Author said...

Okay. I think this is an interesting idea, but I'm having a little trouble following it. There are a lot of unfamiliar names. Try cutting it back to just talking about the main character and what she has to do, and leaving out subplots.

I suspect that 900 years ago-- in the early 12th century-- none of the nations now extant had their present borders, and most didn't have their present names. I read a crudload of medieval history, and I can't name a single 12th c. war off the top of my head.

I realize your world isn't our world, but I bring this up because it's hard to imagine any country anywhere still being a pariah because of a war fought that long ago. Even Germany only managed to keep its full pariah status for about 15-20 years after WWII.

That snapped my willing suspension of disbelief. But the plot sounds quite interesting.

Anonymous Author said...

P.S.-- whoops, just thought of one/some. The Crusades. Of course.

Dominique said...

You sound like you've got an interesting idea here, but I see two problems with this query.

1)You've got major name soup going on here. You need to boil the query down to the people the reader must know about. Any other proper noun can be cut out.

2)I feel pretty much everything I heard this girl is about her schemes to use people, such as plotting to form an alliance with this girl for his magic. I need to know what's endearing about this girl so I can root for her.

Mesmerix said...

First paragraph is fantastic. Gives me the background, the intrigue, a unique description on the smell of the price which I loved, and this idea about a girl manipulating her way into a man's heart for magical power. An awesome concept!

Then, I'm lost.

There is way too much stuff going on with way too many characters. Pick one plot for a query, the main one, and ignore the subplots.

Your first paragraph should be character+conflict and the next paragraphs should be explaining that char/con in ways that entice me to read. What you have right now is name soup, like Dominique said, and I couldn't keep track.

Tell me about one person, how is he/she interesting, and what choice does he/she have to make. That's all you need in a query.

Seems like you have a lot of fun political intrigue among a fantasy setting. Too much intrigue will kill a query though.

Pare down, focus. Risse sounds like a brilliant place to start.

Best of luck!

Scribbler to Scribe

Jenny said...

Thanks, everyone!

danceluvr said...

For what's it worth, here's my opinion -- and it's just an opinion. I'm unpublished in the fiction field.

Whether it's your first or hundredth novel, I wouldn't include that tidbit in a query letter.

My initial reaction: I don't like Risse. She's sounds unsympathetic. I see Alysia as the sympathetic character and the one I'd relate to.

But this could prove interesting as you've made who would normally be an antagonist your protagonist. Now to make her less ambitious, less ruthless, and more vulnerable. Then she might have a chance to gain readers.

For a query, I think this is too long. Probably too much backstory (always a problem with fantasy :-( ).

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.