Wednesday, June 23, 2021

June 2021 Pass or Pages Entry #3


It's time for the Pass or Pages feedback reveal!  We're so thankful for our awesome agents Michaela Whatnall, Rebecca Podos, and Elle Thompson for taking the time to critique these entries.  And a shout out to the brave authors whose work will be on the blog this week.  You are awesome!

Entry 3: Borne of the Wind


Borne of the Wind[MW1] is a character-driven, adult epic fantasy novel, complete at about 118,000 words.

Iraja, Huntmaster of the dhan’ya army, was raised with one goal: sacrifice himself to the Wind Spirit to end the hundred-year war with the Margas Kingdom. Elliott, puppet prince of the Margas, wants to protect his sister but lacks any real power. When Iraja’s god turns his assassination mission into a rescue and the chance for true peace, Iraja’s life is set adrift, and Elliott must work with the dhan’ya to become a real ruler in order to free himself and his sister forever[MW2].

But the path to peace is not an easy one[MW3]. They face political intrigue, conniving advisors, and a matriarch willing to destroy her own children for revenge. Helping the peace along are a telepathic former Huntmaster, a healer wishing for more in life, and a family of prostitutes who can sway the Dhan’ya Realm any way they choose.

When soul-stealers are released to sabotage the truce and Elliott’s former captor threatens to outwit them all, both sides must decide what lengths they’ll go to in order to end the war without slaughter.

Borne of the Wind[MW1] features a diverse cast of characters, strong women in positions of power, and an ongoing conflict between two societies: one matriarchal, one patriarchal[MW4]. In the fight for peace between these century-old enemies, characters must learn to live with people they hate and figure out who they are in a changing world. Comparable titles include The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Mass[RP1][ET1].
Michaela's comments: 
[MW2] I’m taking from this that Iraja rescues Elliott (and his sister?), but it took me a couple of reads to understand. Clarify what the rescue mission is.
[MW3] I’m always curious about character, and I wonder here what the relationship between Iraja and Elliott is like as they work together. Is it fraught? Is it friendly?
[MW4] This is interesting—if this is a defining feature of the world, I’d suggest putting it near the top of the query.
Rebecca's comments:
[RP1] I appreciate that this specifies the genre! And how it up the conflict fairly neatly in a short space. I might like a few more details (what is Elliot protecting his sister from? Their matriarch? Is that also Eliott’s former captor?) I’m also wondering whether this is a queer fantasy, since PRIORY is a pretty remarkable comp. My totally subjective hesitation is that I don’t love the term “strong women” in a query letter, because I also think that term is pretty subjective.
Elle's comments: 
[ET1] Right off the bat: great choice, to highlight the aspects of the book in your query opening (categorization, word count, and that it’s character driven). That tells agents a lot and primes them to read your query with the right frame of mind without being presumptuous about what we should be interpreting.
  You should name Elliott’s sister. Iraia reads as a feminine name, and without naming Elliott’s sister, it took me two reads of the sentences to discern that Iraia and Elliott weren’t directly connected. Also: protect his sister from what, specifically?

First 250 Words:

It was a good night for an assassination.

Iraja the Wind Master glided on the wind above the soldiers so swiftly not even the keenest warrior could sense his presence. At his command, the wind burst across the castle grounds, shaking doors and breaking open windows too weak to withstand the sudden gale, until most of the guards within left their posts to secure the rooms now exposed to the coming storm. Iraja scaled the innermost tower undetected. His light body vaulted up from the merest foothold to reach an open window in the tower.

Collecting the air around his hands into a swirling torrent, Iraja leapt onto the windowsill and unleashed the raging winds inside the small room, sending furniture crashing back and forth against the walls. Debris clattered to ground as the winds ended as quick as they’d come.

With only moonlight to light the room, Iraja searched for flesh and blood amid the shattered wood on the floor. No one could have avoided his attack, but Iraja refused to leave until he confirmed that his target was dead. A boy shivered just beyond the shattered bedframe, which had speared the mortar in the stone wall. His body trembled violently, but he remained unscathed by the vicious attack. Iraja didn’t move, didn’t breathe. His target was alive! Iraja called the winds to his will again, but this time the air did not heed his command—the wind itself betrayed him. How could the wind fail a Wind Master?[MW5][RP2][ET2]
Michaela's comments: 
[MW5] Pass
Rebecca's comments:
[RP2] This, too, is really subjective—I prefer fantasy when I get to know the character a little before I see them/their powers in action, and so while this is well written, I would pass.
Elle's comments: 
[ET2] I think your prose style needs a little refining to set up pacing and tone, but overall, your plot sounds really action-packed and tied well to your world-building. I’m requesting PAGES, a full MS in .doc format, for this.



Michaela Whatnall: Pass
Rebecca Podos: Pass
Elle Thompson: Pages!

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