The author cut 500 words to make the 1000-word limit. Heartsouls is epic fantasy with a strong component of romance.
The query for it is here.
Comtesse Marguerite Navarre is a naïve young woman from the privileged race of Argents, distinguished by their gold eyes and blonde hair. Argents own all property and control the country of Maore to the exclusion of the other race, Silvers. Heartsouls begins with Comtesse Marguerite Navarre fleeing for her life. Strange creatures, she names blackbirds, are attacking the Compound where she lives, killing Argents including her family. Marguerite escapes over the Compound wall to fall, literally, into the Silver section of town
Silvers find her in the streets after curfew. Dark-haired Silvers are restricted to their homes for curfew, but these men don’t follow the rules. They are dismayed to find a young Argent on their hands, requesting help to warn the Empereur. After hearing her story, their leader, Bolton, decides they will accompany the Comtesse out of town and see what happens
Jorge, the handsomest of the Silvers, is a cocky, confident young man who enjoys teasing and flirting. His cavalier attitude infuriates Marguerite. Morris is a fun loving boy, who is soon telling Marguerite more than the others want revealed, including that Jorge receives warnings of danger and he has the ability to seek people or things out.
The Silvers find Marguerite’s friendly behavior remarkable. They begin to care what happens to her against warnings from Bolton to be cautious. Marguerite finds she is happier with her new friends then she was in the stuffy society of rules and snobbery.
In Maore, people worship a group of Spirits. The greater Spirits are Air or Wind, Earth, Water, Sun, and Moon. Each greater Spirit had a hand in creating some form of life: birds, animals, fish, Silvers, and Argents. The Sun Spirit is associated with Argents while the Moon is the creator of Silvers. Spirits will feature large throughout Heartsoul.
As they reach the capital, Marguerite fears she will never be allowed to see her new friends again. Duty to her dead family compels her to continue with her visit to Empereur Agenor despite her feelings. Jorge offers to find her with his seeking powers if they should be separated. An offer she declines for fear of her friends’ safety. Jorge kisses her and she is filled with confused feelings.
Empereur Agenor and his heir, Captain Hull, tell Marguerite she has manifested a very old magic. Her magic is the result of a bond she has formed with the Silvers. All the people of Maore have the potential for magic- if they find their soul bond. There are two types of bonds. Twins souls are Argents/Silvers in a sibling partnership, while heartsouls is a more intimate matching of love. Agenor decides to confirm Marguerite’s connection to the Silvers. He separates her from the Silvers, holding her as his guest at the palace and sending them on their way, and waits results.
The Silvers are unexpectedly infuriated at being parted from Marguerite. They decide they will use Jorge’s ability and Bolton’s scheming to rescue her. A sneak rescue to find her is foiled when someone tracks Jorge’s magic. Instead of all getting away, Jorge and Bolton let themselves be caught by Captain Hull so the other two with Marguerite can get out of the palace into the city.
Dutifully, Marguerite comes back for them the next morning and gives herself up in exchange for the Silvers’ safety. Empereur Agenor now tells them of their connection to each other. He insists on testing all the Silvers to discover which is bonded to Marguerite. It is, of course, the lying charmer, Jorge.
In return for their promise to learn magic and help Agenor, their group will be allowed to stay together. The Empereur’s last demand is devastating to Marguerite. He declares that she and Jorge are heartsouls and they must marry to strengthen the bond between them or they will be confined and forced to do so. Marguerite must get a handle on her feelings for Jorge. She is confused and unsure, caught between desire to help the Empereur, her curiosity about magic, and her wishes not to be forced into marriage.
After meeting with the Empereur, Jorge and Marguerite end up arguing; affecting their ability to make their magic work. The strength of the magic depends on the strength of the heartsoul or twin soul connection. Like Silvers of ancient times, Jorge is susceptible to a binding oath- meaning when he promises to do something he is held to it or he becomes physically ill. Jorge has promised to marry Marguerite but she refuses. Worn down with Jorge’s increasing suffering, Marguerite finally agrees to marry him
At midsummer, the blackbirds return with their creators to attack the Argents of Starke. In particular, they want Empereur Agenor removed. With no children to follow him, the country would fall into chaos for Captain Hull is not generally accepted as heir. And without the Empereur’s protection the Silvers, and especially Jorge, would be in danger from Argent retribution.
An exciting rescue to save Empereur Agenor, involving many blackbirds, is successful. On their way back a panicked crowd separates the friends. Jorge, Marguerite, and Captain Hull encounter a hooded man. This man, Seth, boasts he is the one behind the blackbirds and mocks their pitiful skill with magic. Not even threatened enough to kill them personally, Seth leaves behind enough blackbirds to do the job for him.
Beset by too many blackbirds to overcome with their beginning skill, they are saved by the intervention of the Moon Spirit, Candrima. She banishes the blackbirds and reveals that Jorge is her favorite child. The Moon Spirit created Jorge with the purpose of bringing magic back to the world. After Candrima releases them, most of them they have no memory of her or her intervention. Candrima looks on at the end knowing Jorge has only begun the journey to fulfill his purpose. Jorge and Marguerite’s relationship is still incomplete. The mocking blackbird creators are still at large and they have much more magic to learn.
The author mentioned she thinks this synopsis sounds a bit boring and I have to agree (but that can, of course, be fixed!). Why?
Lack of a clear antagonist. In the beginning, the blackbirds seem to be a collective villain. There's not really a hint of a main villain until Seth shows up 90% of the way through the story.
Lack of tension in the middle of the book. The story is bookended by attacks by the blackbirds, but what's really happening in the middle of the book? M&J travel to the capital, the emperor thinks they have a bond, tests that bond, then says they have to marry to make their bond strong. There's talk of magic, but no one seems to perform any and the magic is not explained. Because there are a lot of machinations to discover that bond, it seems to be important, but the reader is left not caring because the synopsis doesn't clearly show what the point of it all is.
Unresolved ending. The emperor is captured and rescued in two sentences. Our protags are beset by blackbirds and they are saved by what seems to be a deus ex machina – the Moon Spirit. There's something special about Jorge, more hints at magic and nothing is resolved between M&J. As written, it feels like a setup for Part 2 rather than a satisfying conclusion to this story's arc.
Plus, I know I seem to be harping on the magic, both in your query revision and now in your synopsis (sorry), but I'm afraid I just don't get what the magic is, how it works, or why it's important. Does anyone else see something here about the magic that's obvious that I'm missing?
I failed in my job of cutting this synopsis down. In my edit, I expanded on some of the ideas (making a guess or two - and using some placeholder words like "gang" and "hoodlum" that will need changing) and tried to cram in a bit more motivation and a more resolved feel to the ending. The original is 999 words; my version is 993. Are there parts that the rest of you feel can go? Or other ways you would tackle this?
Comtesse Marguerite Navarre is a naïve young woman from the privileged race of gold-eyed, blonde-haired Argents. In Maore, Argents own all the property and live in Compounds that insulate them from the subjugated, dark-haired Silver race. When strange creatures nicknamed blackbirds attack her Compound killing every Argent they find, Marguerite watches in horror as they slaughter her parents. She flees, barely escaping over the Compound wall to fall, literally, into the Silver section of town.
A gang of Silvers finds her in the streets after curfew. The four young hoodlums hear her story of the attack and her pleas to warn the Empereur. Their leader, Bolton, antsy for action, agrees to accompany the Comtesse to the capital.
One handsome hoodlum, Jorge, is a particularly cocky, confident young man who enjoys teasing and flirting. His cavalier attitude infuriates Marguerite, until one of the gang confides that Jorge receives visions of danger and has the uncanny ability to find people and things that are lost -- or don't want to be found. Intrigued despite herself, Marguerite studies the man with new eyes.
In fact, she begins to see all the Silvers – children of Candrima, the Moon Spirit -- with new eyes. The boys are easy-going and fun-loving, far from the stuffy society of rules and snobbery she's been accustomed to. She feels comfortable with them. In turn, the Silvers find Marguerite’s friendly behavior remarkable. Argents made the rules they're rebelling against, but Marguerite is different. And they're starting to care what happens to her.
When they reach the capital, Marguerite fears the Silvers won't be let in and that she won't be allowed to see her new friends again. But duty to her dead family compels her on alone. Jorge promises to find her should they be separated. Then he kisses her, and the resulting flush of warmth and power overwhelms her.
When she appears before Empereur Agenor and his appointed heir, Captain Hull, they sense what Marguerite can't – that she has manifested a very old magic. What they don't know is who she's made the rare and powerful heartsouls bond with. To find out, Agenor detains her and orders the Silvers on their way. Then he waits.
Relying on Jorge's seeking ability and Bolton’s scheming, the Silvers attempt a rescue. The plot, expected as it is, is foiled. Changing plans on the fly, Jorge and Bolton let themselves be caught by Hull so the other two can escape with Marguerite into the faceless city.
Conscience, though, won't let Marguerite abandon her friends. She returns for them the next morning, giving herself up in exchange for the Silvers’ safety. Agenor insists on testing all the Silvers to discover which one is bonded to Marguerite. It is, of course, the cocky charmer, Jorge.
In return for their promise to learn magic and help Agenor, the Empereur will allow the friends to stay together. But his next demand devastates Marguerite. He declares that, as heartsouls, she and Jorge must marry to strengthen the bond between them. If they refuse to marry willingly, they will be confined and forced to consummate the bond to bring the ancient magic back into a world grown sterile from its absence.
To keep Marguerite safe and his friends free, Jorge agrees to the marriage. Marguerite, though, remains caught between desire to help the Empereur, her curiosity about magic, and her wishes not to be forced into marriage. And she still hasn't come to terms with her feelings for Jorge.
Jorge and Marguerite end up arguing, affecting their ability to make their magic work. To complicate matters, Jorge, like Silvers of ancient times, is susceptible to a binding oath -- meaning when he promises to do something he is held to it or he becomes physically ill. The more Marguerite argues against the marriage, the more Jorge suffers. Worn down at last by Jorge’s increasing anguish, Marguerite agrees to marry him
Before that can happen, blackbirds attack the capital. This time they're after Agenor. Since Hull is only an appointed heir and not of royal blood, many Argents do not accept him as successor. With Agenor off the throne, the country would fall into chaos. And without the Empereur’s protection, all Silvers would be in danger from Argent retribution. The raid on the capital is a success and Agenor is captured and spirited off by a squadron of blackbirds.
Recognizing the importance of keeping Agenor safe, Marguerite and the Silver gang join Captain Hull in a successful rescue. On their way back, a panicked crowd separates the friends, leaving Jorge, Marguerite, and Hull on their own. Trapped in an alley by a mysterious hooded man -- who boasts being the one behind the attacks -- and his entourage of blackbirds, Jorge and Marguerite call on their heartsouls bond and the magic they need to save them. Unskilled, their magic is weak, impotent, and the man, Seth, mocks their pitiful attempt. Not even threatened enough to kill them personally, Seth leaves behind enough blackbirds to do the job for him.
Their attempt, however, draws attention. The strong bond resonates with a power they cannot yet tap into but which can be felt by the many spirits of their world. Candrima, Moon Spirit and protector of the Silvers, appears and banishes the blackbirds. In a moment of wistful love she reveals that of all the Silver children she's created, Jorge is her favorite and the one purposed to bring magic back into the world.
Before Candrima leaves, she takes away their memory of her and her intervention. Like any Mother, she must allow Jorge to walk his own path and succeed or fail on his own choices. Before the world can be made whole again, Jorge and Marguerite’s relationship must be completed and they must learn to wield their magic to bring the blackbirds and their creator to bay. But for now, Candrima's allowed them a second chance to learn and – perhaps – to love.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Synopsis 4: Heartsouls
The author cut 500 words to make the 1000-word limit. Heartsouls is epic fantasy with a strong component of romance.