Talyn is the [a?] lifeweaver, able to shift injuries, diseases, even death from one person to another. The church and nobility have long exploited his family's blessing, using it to inflict judgment upon sinners and lawbreakers while healing their own righteous peers. Talyn believes in their cause of helping others while providing justice -- until he finds out he is being manipulated to punish the falsely accused.
When the king uses Talyn to fake his own assassination and incite a war, the disillusioned lifeweaver turns traitor
, and begins building evidence against the throne. But a woman accused of murder upsets his plans, taking Talyn hostage in a desperate attempt to avoid execution. As she drags him through the kingdom's underbelly, Talyn sees for himself just how corrupt the church and crown have become.
To liberate the oppressed, he will have to elude an army of zealots, blackmail judges, and ally with supposed "demons". But first, he will have to trust a fugitive with his life. At every crossroad, he faces the soul-searing decision familiar to every lifeweaver: who will he save, and who will suffer for it?
I seek representation for Lifeweaver, a completed 149,000-word fantasy, and have appended the first ten pages. Thank you for your time; I look forward to hearing from you.
The author springboarded (sprangboard?) off my rewrite to come up with his revision. He says he's torn between using the obstacles specified here and the more vague obstacles I suggested in my rewrite:
To liberate the oppressed, he will have to resort to subterfuge, blackmail and unholy alliances.
Normally I would press for the specifics -- it doesn't take that many more words to be specific is my mantra. Here, though, while I think the judges being who Talyn's blackmailing is a good touch, the "army of zealots" and "supposed 'demons'" add a layer of complexity that will require some explaining. The demons in this case are simply people the church has labeled such. I think if "demon" is used in this last paragraph in any context -- even with printed air quotes -- it should be used earlier to show that the church in this world is on par with our world's Inquisition and witch-hunters.
Knowing now the demons aren't really demons, I might opt for something other than "unholy" in my version, although bringing in some other religious aspect would seem to be very appropriate here.
I think, too, I'd like to see quick confirmation as to whether the woman is actually a murderer or not. Knowing that detail colors how I as a reader respond to the rest of the query.
I also threw in a final closing sentence in my version
And soon he'll have to confront the most agonizing question of all: Are the choices he's making the right ones?
because the query just felt like it needed something more than Talyn being put through a "familiar decision" several times. Something that underscores his self-doubt and adds a bit of layered character.
All-cap the title of the book.
The author is also concerned about cutting down his novel to meet some arbitrary word count. I'm still betting that on a sentence-by-sentence-level edit he could take it down another 10-15K words -- he just doesn't realize it yet. Still, in his defense, SF/Fantasy publisher Del Rey/Spectra recently ran a contest for unpubbed mss and they allowed entries up to 150,000 words. So this ms's word count is within at least one major publisher's arbitrary cutoff limit.
So now, what do the rest of you think about the new version?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Query 86: Redux