Wednesday, March 22, 2017

An Agent's Inbox #36

Dear Agent:

Two estranged brothers finally meet, only to discover that one must kill the other for the kingdom to survive.

After years with only swords and tomes as companions, seventeen-year-old Prince Vaeldhei finds his first true friend with the arrival of his surly half-brother, Mordred--a boy even more familiar with rejection and loneliness than Vael. However, an ancient prophecy haunts Mordred’s footsteps--he is destined to kill their father in a battle that will destroy Britain. Vael may not believe in fate’s power, but that means little to the superstitious kingdom seeking his older brother’s death.

Though Mordred’s sorceress mother attempts to use him as a pawn in her plot to destroy Camelot, Vael vows to show Mordred that destinies can be rewritten. He’ll fight her and her manipulations at every turn, but she’s far too powerful for Vael and Mordred to overcome on their own. Vael resorts to enlisting her alluring and mysterious former apprentice for aid--a risky move, especially since she seems hell-bent on tearing the brothers apart. If Vael cannot free Mordred from his mother’s twisted grasp, he will have to watch his father and Camelot fall or kill his only friend--his brother.

THE PENDRAGON’S SON is a standalone YA Fantasy novel with series potential, complete at 91,000 words. An excerpt from this manuscript received the Superior Award from the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) Creative Writing Contest and the ACSI Regional Creative Writing Festival. I was also chosen by Kelly Hopkins as an unofficial mentee in PitchWars 2016 with this novel. I am a Latina currently living in Pennsylvania with my husband, my reptiles, and my books.

Thank you for your time and consideration.



As I hurried down the castle’s vast stone corridor to meet my half-brother for the first time, his name echoed around me, uttered like a curse: Mordred.

The vaulted doorway of the Great Hall loomed ahead, hewn from stone older than the ages. Squaring my shoulders and forcing my spine straight as a sword, I marched toward the raised dais, careful to keep my pace steady--calm and collected as a Prince of Camelot should be. At least I hoped I looked that way. My muscles strained as my legs urged me forward. Every step was too fast, yet the dais still seemed far away. 

Armored knights and soldiers filled either side of the high-ceilinged hall. I passed them and focused straight ahead on the three thrones, though as hard as I tried, I could not block out the poisonous words infusing the room, burning my ears.

“How is that bastard Mordred still alive?” A knight to my right sneered. 

“Vermin never did die easy,” another said.

I bit my tongue, not for the first time that day. Such disrespect, all because of an unfounded--and unreliable--prophecy made decades ago. 

My heels clipped against the stones. No point in arguing with them. They wouldn’t heed me, prince or not. In terms of garnering respect, Mordred and I stood on almost equal ground. Though I was King Arthur’s son, my rank did not erase the years he spent avoiding me.

Or the lies the queen had spread about me.


Tom N said...

The opening scene is powerful and works well in conveying the momentousness of the occasion and the protagonist's state of mind. It made me want to keep reading.

As for the query, I had to read it twice to figure out what was going on. I think the conflation of brother and half-brother was part of what threw me off. I didn't put it together at first that the sorceress was Mordred's mother but not Vael's. I also wanted to get a better sense of how the two brothers bonded so quickly despite surliness and patterns of rejection.

Ellen Mulholland said...

I agree with Tom's query issues. Consider not using the nickname Vael in your query. The middle paragraph threw me with "she" used for the first time. I had to re-read the opening sentence to see who "she" was.

I love your language in the 250. It feels very much Sir Arthur and all that. I suggest cutting the first sentence in two by deleting As and ending at time.

I wonder if mentioning PitchWars is necessary. Your other award tells more.

Good luck!

Carolyne T said...

The opening pages of this really drew me in! The writing is crisp and rhythmic. You do an excellent job showing the setting without it feeling forced. You also sprinkle in some intrigue. I want to know more about the queen's lies, for instance.

I like how you open with a strong hook in the query letter. I agree that some tweaks could improve it: such as the vague pronoun "she" in 3rd paragraph; (because you mention both mother and her apprentice, it's easy to miss which "she" it is on first pass). Also, is there anyway to leave out that you were an "unofficial" mentee? Can it be rephrased/tightened to say simply that you were mentored by Kelly Hopkins in PitchWars 2016, or is that misleading?

Overall though, this is a strong submission. Best of luck :)

Unrepentant Escapist said...

Vaeldhei doesn't sound like an Arthurian name to me, but I could be wrong. I think you should make the Arthurian character of the book clear in your first line. You do a good job of characterizing the main internal conflict. I feel a lot of sympathy for the main character. But I feel the plot description is a little muddled. I think the apprentice character may be a distraction.

I like the first scene. There's some nice tension in it. I can really feel the anticipation. However, the first line is a little confusing because I'm not sure if it's literal or metaphorical. Either way, I'd like it better signposted personally.

I'd read on.

The Agent said...

Intriguing first line, though I would like to know genre and word count.

From the first paragraph I now realize this might be YA - another reason why it's important to mention genre and word count up front. I'm a bit worried that this is a bit too similar to other books already on the market, but I do like this kind of fantasy so I will keep reading.

I do love Camelot stories, but have yet to read one that really felt fresh. I'm intrigued enough to take a look at the text.

The text:

After the first two paragraphs - I am impressed by the writing here, but not yet convinced that this feels fresh. I'll keep reading.

Your last line is a great cliffhanger and enough to make me want to read more.