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Ask Daphne! About My Query 11

AboutMyQueryIf it’s Friday, it must be time for another About My Query post! Let’s get to it.

Dear Agent,

Captain Damien Ardeo struggles to earn respect as the only common born officer in the Volucian military. His people rule the skies with their wings and the land through their huge numbers. They only fear Æled’s control of fire—but not for much longer. Damien’s glory-obsessed commanders propel the empire towards war, intent on exterminating Æled’s winged horses and driving out the fire-wielders. Damien pushes his officers to stop the killings, but the bloody nobles don’t give a damn. Their homes won’t burn if Æled retaliates. Their families won’t suffer. His will.

Princess Allisane Kent is done struggling to earn the respect of her uncle, the King of Æled. She’s spent years training in combat on her winged horse, yet still the King bars her from his council, preferring the advice of his spineless lords—even as a powerful empire hunts the winged horses vital to Æled’s survival. Allisane’s people lost their fire magic generations ago, a secret they’ve guarded. Taming the winged horses is their only protection. When Volucians massacre a wild herd on Æled land, Allisane forces her way into the King’s council, determined to keep her horse safe and prove she can lead.

When overzealous Volucian soldiers attack Allisane during her training, tensions ignite into war. Damien’s commanders order his division to invade Æled’s capital and eliminate the remaining winged horses. Following orders means killing innocents—and keeping his family safe from Æled’s fiery retribution. But Allisane’s not about to let anyone hurt her horse or threaten her people, even if it takes defying the king and leading troops against the Volucians herself.

ASCEND is an adult epic fantasy that should appeal to readers of Brandon Sanderson and V. E. Schwab. It is complete at 120,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Ok, first impressions as I’m reading: Wings? My immediate assumption is a race of winged people, a la Hawkgirl. Clarify if you mean planes or ships. What is Æled? A person? A nation? Another race? Going on, because you mention winged horses, I think I’m right about winged people, but I’m still confused about who or what Æled is. If someone or something else has wings, are they part of the empire or no?

All of which is basically to say there’s a lot of world-building describing in the opening paragraph here, and it can trip up a reader. I would skip some of the more technical aspects of the world, and concentrate on the characters: Damian as the only common-born officer who wants to save his family, and families like his, from noble retaliation, and Allisane, the more-than-competent princess ignored because she’s a girl, compelled by her connection to her horse to save him and all others like him.

And once we’ve focused on these two characters, then we can bring in more plot details. As a reader, I want to know if the story is driving to their meeting, and working together to defy the others, or falling in love, or whatever.

I also found the idea of the Volucians being scared of the Æled’s control of fire intriguing, especially because they’ve lost it. Like Chekov’s gun, however, I hope that the mention of this means it comes back into the story at some time, and you might want to hint at that.

Moving on, you describe the book as adult epic fantasy, but your comparable authors are perhaps best known as writers of YA. From my perspective, as an agent who mainly reps YA, that would hint to me that your book skews younger than you claim. You could either chose different comparables, or perhaps revisit the age range.

I hope that’s helpful! Good luck, and thanks for sharing.

If any of my readers want to submit a query for critique and review on the blog, please send it to AboutMyQuery@ktliterary.com, and we’ll let you know if and when we can use it!

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