Friday, November 06, 2009
"A man takes care of his family, Michael Callistus, if he doesn't he isn't any kind of a man at all." [Change the second comma to a semicolon or a period.]
All his life Michael had that mantra drummed into him by his stern aunt Magdalene, and he has done his best to live up to that [it], looking after his sickly sister Miranda until he can see her married to a fine gentleman who will treat her as she deserves. Michael knows that he isn't the best guardian for Miranda, he's known ever since he failed to save her twin brother Felix from monsters six years ago, but he is all she has. [Change those commas to dashes.] She is also all that keeps him living, as when she leaves him he plans to kill himself and end the burdens that life has placed upon his shoulders.
When Miranda is kidnapped by agents of the fanatical sorcerer Quirian, Michael learns that Miranda's illness was in fact the result of an ancient magical bloodline, which Quirian plans to unlock to achieve his goal of destroying the tottering Empire of All Pelarius- killing Miranda in the process. [He seems to know an awful lot about Quirian's scheme.] [Also, I'd be interested in knowing what names you rejected before settling on Empire of All Pelarius.] Michael doesn't much care about the Empire, but he does care about his family and sets off to save Miranda no matter what. [If the Empire is already tottering, I'm thinking a surprise attack will finish it off, without this bloodline-unlocking mumbo jumbo, which I predict won't work anyway.]
Michael is joined by Jacob, the bastard of the Imperial court looking for someone to care about him, [People would be more likely to care about him if you didn't always refer to him as Jacob the bastard.] by the patrician soldier Gideon, and by Michael’s childhood friend Amy. He also receives advice from the immortal mystic Silwa, who is coordinating the resistance to Quirian from the heart of his own dungeon, befriending the captive Miranda in the process.
With these companions to aid and support him, Michael begins to understand the true meaning of family and sees that his life could have value for others beside his little sister. In the midst of searching for a weapon to use against Quirian Michael and the others are confronted by their enemy himself, [First get your weapons, then seek out your enemy.--Sun Tzu] and standing at his right hand is Michael’s lost brother Felix. Felix berates Michael, accusing him of abandoning his little brother and his familial duties. Michael is unable to deny the charge, because he half believes it himself. [He does manage to half deny the charge.]
With Jacob wounded, [When did this happen?] and Michael reduced to an emotional wreck, Quirian leaves the destruction of the little group in the hands of a sadistic pyromancer and his hunters. [Big mistake. From the list of things I'd do if I were an Evil Overlord:
101. I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.]
Despite a valiant effort Gideon and Amy are defeated, and though Jacob unleashes hitherto unsuspected magical abilities he too is unable to prevail. It falls to Michael to defend his family when they need him most. Victorious but heavily injured, Michael [He never even found a weapon.] is falling into unconscious [unconsciousness] when he sees a mysterious woman coming towards him… [It's Wonder Woman.]
The story concludes in the second volume: Empire of Duty [No, putting Wonder Woman at the beginning of the sequel doesn't make it any less a Deus ex Machina.]
What's the title of this volume?
A lot of background, but not much action.
If I believe he could have saved me from monsters, when I encounter my brother years later I'll find a stronger accusation than You abandoned your familial duties.
It wraps up too fast. Nothing happens for a long time, then suddenly the main confrontation already happened. Jacob was wounded and Michael emerged victorious and we missed it.
Posted by Evil Editor at 10:14 AM
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I love you, evil editor. Your brackets and blue notes are the highlight of my day.
I'm wondering about so much emphasis on the angsty angle. Somehow about 2/3 of the way through reading this I was wondering why all the running around and whack smack hoo-ha when really, what the dude needs is a good psychiatrist and treatment for his depression.
And I'm not talking about the synopsis.
It does seem a bit thin on detail. A little bit more about the action, and a lot less about "coming to realize the true meaning of family" couldn't go amiss.
And it doesn't seem to have a proper ending, which sends up huge red flags for me. If you're trying to sell a book to me, it really needs to stand on its own, as a self-contained story; you can leave hooks open for a sequel (or several sequels, though you tax my patience with each one), but the dramatic situation you set up in this book really has to come to a satisfactory resolution.
(Yes, I have read "The Lord of the Rings" - as I understand it, it was marketed as three separate volumes only because somebody reckoned a big thick one-volume edition wouldn't work commercially.)
It's good that you know your hero's emotional journey so well, but you're overemphasizing the theme at the expense of the plot. It's one thing to be wracked by guilt, it's another thing to just mope around about how sad you are. I mean, what kind of epic fantasy hero is defeated by a guilt trip?
What does Michael have that enable him to take on the evil sorcerer? And it can't just be his emotional commitment to his sister - he has to have some abilities that convince his companions they have a chance of survival.
And yeah, the lack of an ending is alarming. Have you finished the second book?
This is literary fiction with pyromancers. Something isn't working.
Lots of acclaimed fantasy authors, both new and old, established and debut, do the whole "this story concludes in the next volume" thing. Tolkien, Brooks, Martin, Rothfuss...
But (1) with the possible exception of Tolkien, there is a story arc that begins and ends in each volume, even if the larger arc is left hanging and (2) I personally hate this fantasy trope.
I'd imagine your writing would have to be phenomenal for an agent to take a chance on an unfinished debut.
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