Aug 23, 2010

Query - Bond of Darkness

Dear [agent]

Valence fears he's losing grip on reality. He hears a voice enticing him with questionable knowledge and claiming to be his guide, but it could be the Darkness leading him to the cause the fall of his beloved homeland.

He believes the Darkness, an infection that enslaves the heart, has returned and with it the warlord who created it. Yet Valence has taken something from the warlord. The Pearls of Mithrus were the warlord's source of power, and now Valence is their master. If he can learn to control them, he can stop the infection before it consumes the land.

With a life in shambles and the memory of a murdered friend following him, becoming a savior to the people is the farthest thing from Valence's mind. He must choose between the lives of those he has never met and his own own sanity at the hands of an ancient evil.

BOND OF DARKNESS is an Epic Fantasy, complete at 115,000 words. I have been published in the Stockpot, an undergraduate literary journal and the Sentinel, a county-circulated newspaper. I am currently working on a sequel.

Thank you for your consideration.


J.W. Parente


Tara said...

Hi Justin! =D

"Valence fears [that] he's..." (optional)

" could be the Darkness leading him to the (remove this "the") cause the fall of his beloved homeland."

"...returned and(,) with it(,) the warlord who created it."

"Yet Valence has taken something from the warlord. The Pearls of Mithrus were the warlord's source of power, and now Valence is their master." ...Consider re-wording to: "Yet Valence has inherited something of the warlord's-the Pearls of Mithrus, which was once his source of power." Then it flows a bit better and combines 2 sentences into 1.

"If he can learn to control them, he can stop the infection before it consumes the land." I feel like this is just thrown in at the end of that paragraph, consider: "With these powerful weapons at his display, if Valence can learn to wield them, the possibility of stopping the infection before it consumes the land is slightly more possible."

"With a life in shambles and..." consider changing to: "His life is in shambles and..."

<3 Tara! =)

Stephanie Lorée said...

Two minor grammer issues:

1) "leading him to the cause"... I think you mean "to BE the cause" or "leading him to cause." Otherwise it sounds odd.

2) "his own own sanity" should probably only have 1 own. :)

Otherwise I think the query is excellent and wouldn't make any other changes.

Suzan Harden said...

Hi J.W.!

This sounds like a cool story. Other commenters have hit the grammer issues. But I think there's a couple of things that need clarification.

If this Warlord (and I think in this case, it'd be okay to use his name since you're only talking about two characters in your query) originally owned the Pearls and he created the Darkness, why doesn't Valance believe the two are connected? Was the Darkness created accidentally because Warlord failed to master the Pearls? It's okay to be that specific in a query. And if I'm totally way off base on what you're trying to say in this query, then it definitely needs some clarification. And how did Valance end up with the Pearls?

Also you might want to add why Valance's life is in shambles and why his friend was murdered. (Ex. After the family farm is burned to the ground by the king's men and his mentor, Brom, sacrifices his life, Eragon must claim his destiny. . . )

You've definitely got something here. It just needs a little tweaking to be an A+ query.

Best wishes on your submissions!

Zee Lemke said...

I'm so-so on this one. I'm immediately biased against unexpected capitalization, of course, sort of the same way I immediately dislike anyone with plucked eyebrows. I'll cope.

I feel very much like I'm in the dark. You have the bones here--a protagonist, an antagonist, a choice--but Valence is blank to me. I don't know anything but his name (which is breaking a Mary Sue Litmus Test rule, but is otherwise kind of cool) and that he has a murdered friend (who doesn't, in epic fantasy?). There isn't any reality in this query. There's only darkness and fear of darkness, nothing on the other side. Ultimately I'm having trouble buying into your conflict from the first sentence because I depend on concrete images to set me up in a world. Is Valence even human? Do the Pearls of Mithrus have anything to do with the Mithran mysteries that were a historical religion? No, of course you don't have to answer those questions and this isn't the place for world-building, but I don't get the sense that there's any world at ALL in this book. Or any people.

What questionable knowledge? How could this dude wreck his whole homeland? Let me tell you, as an American anarchist, wrecking a country is a lot more work than you might think!

I've never seen anyone with real pub cred before. I don't know how it's supposed to look. Wow, you... have some! Woo! (That's not sarcastic.)

Justin W. Parente said...

@Zee Thanks for taking a look at this. I've read through a few of your other reviews on PQS and you seem to always ask a lot of questions.

While I truly appreciate your comments, and can probably find something to change because of them, you can never answer too many questions. I could get into some specifics, but I also only have 250-300 words to sell it. Mixing specifics, which can become lengthy, with vague plot points as I do here, would well extend the query over the word mark.

That considered, I'll look through it again and see what more can be done.


Zee Lemke said...

I think I have much higher standards for fantasy word-choice than contemporary. In contemporary, someone says a character is "struggling with depression" or even "babysitting" and I have a whole bunch of cultural information I can add about what those activities are like in the world. In fantasy--I don't.

I do err on the negative side when responding to queries. It's what I want myself when I ask for advice. (I will eventually post my own query on here and then you can tear me apart, because my query sucks.) I am sorry.

I will tell you something else you could do that would please me almost as much as concrete details: vary your sentence length. I keep trying to figure out what it is about the first sentence of the third paragraph that screams "bland" to me (especially considering that that's the sentence with the choice in it). I think it's the one hand-comma-other hand structure that I've seen in three of six sentences so far (four if you count the two in the middle of P2). It does sound very professional and is appropriate for this form of letter--but it does not convey voice or sound like fiction. So I'm left with just the content, and the content makes me feel isolated. I don't get the sense of scope that makes me read epic fantasy (with or without dragons).

Ugh. I don't want to start a fight. I do ask a lot of questions, and I know they can't all be answered in queries (I have to read the books at SOME point). It just takes a lot for me to trust that there's a story behind a premise.

Justin W. Parente said...

@Zee All right, thanks for explaining it further. I'll do my best. I'll revise after a few more comments are posted and then re-submit.