Guess the Plot
1. When King Lortar learns that his subjects want to remedy the famine with a pagan ritual--an obvious affront to mighty Vulfrum, creator of all things--he decides to kill them all. Better to rule over no one than to serve under Vulfrum, aka the Lord of Wrath.
2. It was bad enough that Mary's husband accepted the bet in the first place, but now she'll have to raise their unborn child on her own, all because he lost a stupid fiddling competition and ended up in Hell.
3. A tour of various cultures' afterlives throughout the ages, and what principles to follow (or break) to get there. After all, one society's paradise is another's nightmare. And everyone's going to somebody's hell.
4. Reverend Franklin has an African ministry and a great idea to feed the poor, generate cheap power, and promote a vibrant economy. He borrows billions from Chinese banks and builds dams all over Botswana. One niggling problem: It never rains. Now the bankers want their investment back and because they are the Hong Kong Tong, they’ll take it in blood.
5. When charismatic minister Bobby Follet is shot dead at a BBQ for Jesus, homicide detective Zack Martinez knows two things. One, the Hells Angels didn't do it, and two, those ribs are heavenly.
6. The Beavers have built an enormous dam surrounding their entire nation, to separate themselves from el Castor. They believe this will give them peace, prosperity, and safety. But now their lawns are out of control, their fruits unharvested, and no one can come up with any fresh new ideas for how to combine corn, beans, tomatoes, and ground beef. Have these silly rodents made a terrible mistake?
Dear Evil Editor,
Within the marble citadel of the Eternal City, whence [where] the last Stolthelmite emperor took his dying breath, the Clan of Sodlur stands against foes on all sides. King Lortar the Just, High Priest of the Temple Imperial and head of the Sodlur family, governs the crown lands of the deceased emperor. As famine, poverty, and intrigue suffocate his nascent realm, he fights to keep it from falling to dust. [This is all pretty dry. A lot of words, but not telling us what happens. There's a realm, and within this realm are some crown lands, and inside them is the Eternal City, and inside the Eternal City is a marble citadel, and inside the citadel is the Temple Imperial. That's more geography than I want in the first three sentences. I want story. King Lortar is enough; we don't need High Priest of the Temple Imperial and head of the Sodlur family. We don't know what the Temple Imperial is, and kings do tend to be the head of their family.]
His heir, Crown Prince Asuf, courts the mad daughter of his most hated adversary. His bastard son, Vinrik, sequesters himself bitterly in the royal library’s darkest corners in search of forbidden knowledge. [I can't tell if Vinrik is the bastard son of Asuf or of Asuf's most hated adversary or of Lortar.] Both have their own ideas of what is best for the kingdom. [I can't tell if "both" refers to Asuf and Vinrik or Vinrik and the mad daughter.] They could not be more opposed—not to each other, nor to their sovereign. [Pronouns are great, but only if it's obvious which noun(s) they refer to.] [Also, if two people couldn't be more opposed to each other, at least one of them could be more opposed to their sovereign.]
Whilst [While] his sons pursue their separate goals, Lortar learns that his subjects seek to remedy the famine with a medicine most foul: pagan ritual. This affront to mighty Vulfrum cannot stand. The heathens must be purged, [The heathens, meaning Lortar's subjects? I suppose killing all your subjects is one way to reduce the effects of a famine, but perhaps it's not his subjects who favor the pagan ritual, but a small yet vocal faction who call themselves the Starving Skeptics?] for Vulfrum is the Lord of Wrath; the one true god and creator of all things. To permit the worship of eldritch idols is to invite the fires of hell, and the bloody ambitions of rival clans.
The Warring States era is upon the Clan of Sodlur. They will either endure beneath the pressure, or be crushed, and swept away with their names and legacies buried and forgotten.
Damnation is a 151,000-word high fantasy with elements of political thriller and Lovecraftian horror.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
This is mostly setup. If the pagan ritual is the key plot point, open with that:
When famine strikes the Stolthelmite realm, King Lortar's subjects decide to remedy the situation with a pagan ritual. But Lortar knows this affront to mighty Vulfrum, the Lord of Wrath, invites the fires of hell--and the bloody ambitions of rival clans. The heathens must be purged.
Lortar's sons both have their own ideas on how to keep the realm from falling to dust. Vinrik searches the darkest corners of the royal library for magic spells that could end the drought, while Asuf seeks an alliance through marriage with his clan's most hated adversary.
Of course it's possible the pagan ritual is a minor subplot. Choose a main character to star in the query, and tell us what he wants, what's stopping him from getting it, how he plans to get around that, and what will happen if he fails.
I'm not crazy about the names Sodlur, Lortar, and Vulfrum.