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  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Query letter for PRINCE OF SLAVES

    I have been through multiple revisions with this query, but there's always room for another round (and another, and another)

    I'm posting two versions. Well, they're not actually different versions, just one has more 'white space' and I want to know which one reads easier.

    I'd appreciate any feedback and I'm not afraid of hard critique.


    Dear agent,

    The Willed shall rule the Unwilled; this is the first law of Kaza, an empire where Will is the magic that gives one man the strength of twenty, and sets masters above slaves.

    Sixteen-year-old Olesya, the tsar’s only daughter, was born with an exceptionally strong Will. Trapped in a society that forbids girls from fighting or ruling, she trains to use her power in secret, dreaming of the day her father will acknowledge her as his heir.

    Her hopes are dashed when the tsar hosts a tournament to determine his successor and picks a commoner from the street as his champion.

    Desperate to prove herself worthy of her father’s love and his throne, Olesya does what no woman has ever dared; challenge the tsar’s champion.

    But when she falls in love with her rival, she’s torn between pursuing her dreams, or sacrificing them for a man who may not be everything he appears.


    Russ is a slave who has survived for twenty years in the brutal limestone mines. One night, while on a mission for a secret rebel brotherhood, he is shocked to discover he has Will and kills a master. To escape execution, he flees to the capital city. Here his use of Will in a street fight brings him to the attention of the tsar, who—unknowingly—offers a slave the chance to become the most powerful man in Kaza.

    Working with his rebel friends, Russ enters the tournament to carry out a ruthless plan that will murder the tsar and start the greatest rebellion the empire has ever seen.

    But as Russ gets to know the masters and the tsar’s daughter, he is soon fighting a battle against his own heart and is forced to decide just how far he is willing to go to end slavery.

    PRINCE OF SLAVES is a YA fantasy of 106, 000 words, told from alternating points of view between Russ and Olesya.

    Thank you for reading.



    Dear agent,

    The Willed shall rule the Unwilled; this is the first law of Kaza, an empire where Will is the magic that gives one man the strength of twenty, and sets masters above slaves.

    Sixteen-year-old Olesya, the tsar’s only daughter, was born with an exceptionally strong Will. Trapped in a society that forbids girls from fighting or ruling, she trains to use her power in secret, dreaming of the day her father will acknowledge her as his heir. Her hopes are dashed when the tsar hosts a tournament to determine his successor and picks a commoner from the street as his champion. Desperate to prove herself worthy of her father’s love and his throne, Olesya does what no woman has ever dared; challenge the tsar’s champion. But when she falls in love with her rival, she’s torn between pursuing her dreams, or sacrificing them for a man who may not be everything he appears.

    Russ is a slave who has survived for twenty years in the brutal limestone mines. One night, while on a mission for a secret rebel brotherhood, he is shocked to discover he has Will and kills a master. To escape execution, he flees to the capital city. Here his use of Will in a street fight brings him to the attention of the tsar, who—unknowingly—offers a slave the chance to become the most powerful man in Kaza. Working with his rebel friends, Russ enters the tournament to carry out a ruthless plan that will murder the tsar and start the greatest rebellion the empire has ever seen. But as Russ gets to know the masters and the tsar’s daughter, he is soon fighting a battle against his own heart and is forced to decide just how far he is willing to go to end slavery.

    PRINCE OF SLAVES is a YA fantasy of 106, 000 words, told from alternating points of view between Russ and Olesya.

    Thank you for reading.



  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    First off:
    ever dared; challenge the tsar’s champion.
    That should be a colon, not a semicolon.

    I think the second version of the letter is fine as far as the lack of white space goes. I can't shake the feeling that most of this is just a bunch of cliches: the evil empire (Star Wars), the slave rising up to overthrow his masters (Spartacus/Gladiator), the lovers from different sides of the tracks (Romeo & Juliet). I don't think there's anything exciting enough in here to rise above that. And 106,000 words seems on the long side.

  3. #3
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    The second version is a lot tighter, and more focused. A few quibbles:

    when the tsar hosts a tournament to determine his successor and picks a commoner from the street as his champion.
    He didn't choose the successor, the man won the event, and by the rules is next. But... Were I the one receiving this query. I would question the viability of a land where the ruler is the best fighter, and brains and education don't enter into it. Added to that, no matter how powerful the fighter, he has to sleep, and rulers have servants who have the power to poison or stab if you piss them off. And if you have a long bow and good aim...

    I also have a problem with the contest. It it's the common way of choosing a successor the girl shouldn't have been surprised. If not, Daddy seems a twit, for reasons mentioned above.

    I think you might want to address those issues in some way.

    I'd not mention the alternating viewpoints, because it neither adds nor detracts. It's assumed that the POV in a given section is that of the person with the most emotional investment. And if the story flows well, who cares if it alternates, stays with one character, or switches as conditions change. The goal is to make the reader need to turn pages, so it's the writing that matters, not who the protagonist is at a given point.

    And as a, "I hate to mention this," item, a novel of over 100k/words is going to be a really rough sell. Most are a lot shorter.

    Sorry my news isn't better.

    Jay Greenstein

    Our goal isn't to make the reader know the character is frightened, it's to terrify the reader.

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Judging from your query, I'm pretty sure I've read books like this, and I have yet to read one that didn't annoy the crap outta me. Just look at your query. You tell the same story twice from different perspectives, and I'm already annoyed, lol. That back-and-forth stuff gets old really fast, ESPECIALLY if it's in first person (is it?).
    Last edited by John Oberon; 08-31-2016 at 11:35 AM.

  5. #5
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    Cez, I vote for the second one. It looks fine to me, except for the semicolon Mutt already mentioned.

    As far as your story, 100,00 plus words does seem a little long for YA, especially for a first novel you're trying to place with a traditional publisher. I haven't read any YA in a long, long time, but the story sounds interesting. Maybe it is derivative, but what isn't nowadays? How many new ideas do writers come up with? The quality of your writing and the story is what is most important. Good Luck!!

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