1. Everything is perfect in Evelyn's life except for one thing: she has no soulmate. After meeting the perfect candidate, will she sacrifice everything for a chance to catch his eye? Including her soul?
2. Verrin, the keeper of the holy goats, is horrified to find the animals have been slaughtered by a traitor, days before the annual sacrifice for the kingdom's prosperity. And he's even more horrified when the priests decide Verrin is a close-enough substitute.
3. Ray sells his Xbox to get money to buy Ellen a Netflix subscription, only to discover that Ellen sold her Roku to get money to buy Ray Assassins Creed III. It's like that other story, but for millennials.
4. Cremona wants to become a powerful wizard, so he's looking for clues to how. Marina keeps uncovering clues, but ignores them because she has no interest in magic. If only these two lovable kooks would meet, they might live happily ever after.
Dear Ms. XXXXXXX [x7]
I’m a friend of YYYYY [one of the agent’s clients]. She thought you might like a first read of SACRIFICE, the mdieval [medieval] fantasy novel I’ve just completed, and recommended I email you directly.
Cremona [Cremona looks too much like Cremora. It's like calling a character Coffeenate or Nudella or Coca-cota. Also, there's no such name as Cremona in any language.] thought he’d [He'd? Cremona is a girl's name.] managed to spin his straw into gold. Problem is, magic doesn’t work more than one time in two. Or maybe one in five. It can’t bail you out of every scrape you blunder into. A little overconfidence, a couple of lapses in judgment, and Cremona’s payday slips though his grasp. [What do you mean he thought he'd spun straw into gold? Can't he tell whether his straw is still straw or has changed to gold? You suggest that he failed to spin his straw into gold, but you then say magic doesn't work more than half the time, which suggests he has spun straw into gold, but doesn't succeed every time he tries. So why doesn't he just keep trying until it works? Also, when you refer to his payday I can't tell whether you mean the gold itself or the money someone paid him to spin some gold. Also, what lapses in judgment contributed to his plight?]
Now he’s stumbling through serial reversals and disasters. Nailed into a barrel and dropped off a dock. Mugged by thugs in uniform. [AKA police.] A nasty hangover. [Somehow that hangover doesn't seem to belong. It's like saying Jesus was whipped by Roman soldiers, nailed to a cross and left to die, and had an ingrown toenail.] And it’s downhill from there. A more plausible [familiar] fate for a hedge-wizard, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean he has to like it.
Marina’s husband is a smuggler. Strictly small-time, as far as she knew, but his secrets have the Duke’s enforcers twitchy, and they try to grab her - and her kids. She sees no choice but to run. Worse, she must give up her young daughter to save her. [If a group of them try to grab one woman and a couple kids, and fail, they forfeit the right to call themselves Enforcers.]
She leaves Quirt in the hands of the monks of the Order, the only true masters of magic. Quirt will penetrate their mysteries, they promise. The girl is eager to learn, and she finds a friend or two among the monks. [What ever happened to whatshisname? Are we in the same book?] But she’s alone, and there are hints of shadow in their power. [Penetrate their mysteries, hints of shadow: pretty vague.]
Marina bluffs her way from the smoky halls of the Order’s monastery to the sluggish backwaters of the great swamp, uncovering clues to the riddle of controlling power as she runs . [She'll be able to run faster if the Duke makes good on his campaign promise to drain the swamp.] She’s oblivious, though. Increasingly bitter over giving up her daughter, she’s got to figure out how she - and the son who remains to her - are going to survive in exile.
Someone like Cremona might fit the puzzle pieces together, if he heard her story. He’s a bit distracted just now, though. Someone’s cottoned on to his magical abilities. They want to catch him, exploit his power. [Wouldn't it be better to catch a monk, since the monks are the only true masters and Cremona is a bungler?] They’ve set some surly bastards on his trail,
[We've cottoned on to a guy who sucks at magic.
Great. But how do we catch him?
It's too big a job for us. Let's hire some bastards.
Good idea. But not just any bastards. Surly bastards.]
who are proving hard to shake. Along the way Cremona encounters magic of perceptive subtlety, and of lethal power. It’s more than he thought possible. So now, he’s looking for clues. [Clues to what? Is he looking for the same clues Marina uncovered in the previous paragraph? Too bad he's distracted and she's oblivious and they never meet.]
SACRIFICE is 166k words. It’s the first book of a trilogy (AN UNCERTAIN POWER), and will appeal to adult readers of fantasy. It aspires to the tone, complexity, and moral ambivalence of KJ Parker or Joe Abercrombie. There’s considerably less mayhem, though – it’s more personal and political, as in Robin Hobb’s books. [Wait, you consider less mayhem a selling point?]
I’ve attached a synopsis and initial chapters as per your firm’s guidelines. YYYYY also suggested I mention I have other books planned. I’ve outlined the rest of the trilogy, and have ideas for additional projects, both independent and set in the same world as SACRIFICE. [I hate to disagree with YYYYY, as she seems wise, but telling us this is part of a trilogy is plenty; no need to bring up other books and projects.]
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The query and the book would both be better at half the length.
Specific examples are preferable to general statements.
If you are going to compare your book to someone else's I recommend choosing one author rather than three.
If Marina and Cremona are co-main characters, I'd open with Marina, as the gold-spinning/barrel/thugs/hangover paragraphs don't tell us what the book is about. Once you tell us what Marina's problem is, get to the part where they meet and what they hope to accomplish together and what's stopping them.