THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE Query Critique

OR

A Tale of Clones, Dropping Your Eaves,

Dr. the Great, and Changing Your Destiny

Here we go:

(The first line might feature some agent personalization.) I’m seeking representation for THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE. It’s light science fiction with a historical twist, set in near-future England. 

The adults call him Alexander. So do the warriors who torment him every night in reoccurring, battle-filled nightmares. Only by eavesdropping does Alexander learn the truth: he’s the result of an illegal experiment, cloned from Alexander the Great’s newly found remains. When a serious head injury turns the nightmares into complete memories, the ancient Alexander within him reawakens, and the two lives become one.
 
Youthful again, but no longer a conqueror manoeuvring an army like chess pieces, Alexander tries to quell his restlessness by seeking a purpose. The experiment’s goal was to mould into him into the ultimate political leader, but that isn’t what he wants. With his identity a secret, he chooses medical school to atone for the many he killed in antiquity, saving lives with a scalpel instead of taking them with a sword. Life is good, until Alexander learns of a friend’s father’s illegal activities, and the man attempts to silence him with bullets and bloodshed.
 
Ancient Alexander would go after the man who tried to kill him, risking another bullet or a prison sentence for murder. Modern Alexander wants to channel his anger into helping others. The inner struggle continues as war beckons to him, but this time as a doctor, not a conqueror. A distant war might be the only thing that will silence his ancient demons calling for revenge, and keep him from pursuing his attacker.
 
Rage vs. reason. Vanquisher vs. humanitarian. Alexander must decide which inner voice to listen to, and hope that neither gets him sent back to the grave.

I’ve researched Alexander’s life for many years. Intended to be the first of a series, THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE is complete at 118,000 words, and can standalone. I’ve pasted the synopsis and first pages below. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 

(The first line might feature some agent personalization.) I’m seeking representation for THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE. It’s light science fiction with a historical twist, set in near-future England. 

Everyone has a different opinion, but I believe this information should go at the end. I prefer to be immediately introduced to the story, and I think it’s easier to hook the agent that way, too. I’ve read several interviews in which the agent states they don’t care one way or the other. It’s important to research each agent you submit to in case they do have a preference. Also, you repeat the information below so I don’t think it’s necessary here. 

The adults call him Alexander. So do the warriors who torment him every night in reoccurring, battle-filled nightmares. Only by eavesdropping does Alexander learn the truth: he’s the result of an illegal experiment, cloned from Alexander the Great’s newly found remains. When a serious head injury turns the nightmares into complete memories, the ancient Alexander within him reawakens, and the two lives become one. 

This is interesting, but your hook seems to be muddled by a lot of excess information. My rule is: Keep it as simple as possible. Simple, but enticing. Try this: “X-year-old Alexander dreams of blood-soaked battle fields every night. In his nightmare, the dying warriors howl his name over and over, and Alexander’s only escape is when he claws himself back to consciousness. This is normality for him. 

But when he hits his head in an X accident, things change. He has memories that aren’t his own. It’s only through eavesdropping that he discovers the reason behind the reoccurring dreams and strange memories: he’s been cloned from Alexander the Great’s remains.” 

Also, the way the first paragraph is worded makes me think he wasn’t born and didn’t grow up like a normal kid. If Alexander’s remains are newly found, then how is kid-Alexander here now as a clone?
 
Youthful again, but no longer a conqueror manoeuvring (misspelled word) an army like chess pieces, Alexander tries to quell his restlessness by seeking a purpose. The experiment’s goal was to mould into him into the ultimate political leader, but that isn’t what he wants. With his identity a secret, he chooses medical school to atone for the many he killed in antiquity, saving lives with a scalpel instead of taking them with a sword. Life is good, This right here. This is a passive statement that suggests the passage of time. This doesn’t belong in a query. until Alexander learns of a friend’s father’s illegal activities, and the man attempts to silence him with bullets and bloodshed.  

I am going to suggest that you begin the query with Alexander as an adult, and immediately introduce the main conflict: his friend’s father’s illegal activities. This query reads like the whole story is crammed into 300 words. There’s a lot of backstory here.
 
Ancient Alexander would go after the man who tried to kill him, risking another bullet or a prison sentence for murder. Modern Alexander wants to channel his anger into helping others. The inner struggle continues as war beckons to him, but this time as a doctor, not a conqueror. A distant war might be the only thing that will silence his ancient demons calling for revenge, and keep him from pursuing his attacker.
 
Rage vs. reason. Vanquisher vs. humanitarian. Alexander must decide which inner voice to listen to, and hope that neither gets him sent back to the grave. Yes, I like the voice. This line is clever. But it doesn’t answer any of my questions. 

I’ve researched Alexander’s life for many years. Intended to be the first of a series, THE SANDS OF HIS EMPIRE is a light sci fi novel complete at 118,000 words, and is a standalone with series potential. I’ve pasted the synopsis and first pages below. 

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

The story sounds interesting. But this query doesn’t tell me much about the plot. I love the idea of Alexander reimagined, fighting the person his DNA tells him to be. 

The only hint of plot is when his friend’s father’s illicit activities are mentioned. That’s where this should begin. 

 “It’s not easy being the clone of Alexander the Great. History teachers are enamored with twenty-year-old Alexander—girls, not so much.

The scientists created Alex to be the world’s next great political leader. They thought it would be easy to persuade the reincarnation of a war lord, but the joke’s on them. Alex chooses medical school over politics, determined to save lives with a scalpel instead of take them with a sword this time around. 

But when his classmate’s father kills someone, X happens. Alex must do X to stop the guy, or X will happen.” 

I need to know what Alex wants, what stands in his way, what he must do to overcome that obstacle, and what’s at stake if he can’t accomplish what he needs to. What is Alex going to lose if the bad guy wins? There’s a lot of backstory that could be cut out to make this a more efficient query. 

Feel free to send me any revisions. 

Love, 

The Query Faerie

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