Princes and Pawns
1. Darryl and Carl think they've got a sure thing in their new RPG, Princes and Pawns. But when their friend and play-tester Kyle runs to a publisher with a beta copy of the game and gets it accepted, they'll be damned if they'll let this would-be game master rook them.
2. It's time to determine which of the princes is to be heir to the throne, through a series of trials. But one of the princes is trying to sabotage the other, and a notorious gambler is trying to rig the trials, and someone on the Council is using dark magic to kill both princes. Christ, this is worse than the FIFA World Cup.
3. Annoyed at eight princes lined up to inherit, eight peasants hash out a plan to get out from under their collective thumbs and bump them all off. Starting off with creating a game on a checkered board with a hidden message, and nary a prince in sight.
4. The Prince family's pawn shop faces closure after four generations due to plunging profits. But when William Prince finds a rusty old lamp containing a genie, he might hold the solution to their problems. In your face, E-bay, your days are numbered.
5. The heir to the underwater throne is annoyed with a local crustacean for altering the tidal pattern and starts a turf war and . . . what? Oh, pawns, not prawns? Never mind.
6. Drytown is a dystopian hellhole in the desert, where the people are controlled by a fascist military dictator. Philip, son of the last of the desert's true monarchs, wants to fight for his kingdom as the rightful heir, but he's just sixteen and secretly loves the niece of the dictator, who is secretly in love with Philip. But to prove himself worthy of her he must complete an obstacle course that virtually guarantees his death and Jesus Christ, haven't we seen enough of these murder the teenager novels yet?
7. Prince--that's his given name--Phillips joins the chess club in an attempt to spend some one-on-one time with the girl he likes. They're so desperate for members that they don't care if he sometimes forgets how horsey pieces move. But then Prince's father wants him to prove it's not a sissy activity, or he'll ship Prince off to military school.
Dear Name-Spelled-Correctly Agent,
Fifteen-year-old Prince Kyan has been preparing to become Creftenbaugh’s next king for as long as he can remember. A skilled debater with a gift for charming even the stodgiest of diplomats, he knows he can keep the kingdom peaceful and prosperous. But his quick-tempered identical twin brother, Sayled, wants the crown just as much as Kyan, and he’s been preparing just as hard. Kyan fears that if Sayled becomes king, he’ll lead the kingdom into war.
When King Rowden and his Council announce a series of five trials will determine Creftenbaugh’s next ruler, Kyan sees an opportunity to prove he deserves the crown. But there’s a twist – each prince will compete with nine criminals from the prisons, ordering them through the trials as a general would his troops. The trials will be dangerous, and as far as the King is concerned, criminals are expendable.
With Sayled trying to sabotage him at every turn, Kyan struggles to gain his prisoners’ loyalties. Sayled motivates his men with fear and violence, while Kyan offers his their freedom – and riches – if they work with him to win.
Enn, a twelve-year-old boy with sharp eyes and quick feet, plays a key role in Kyan’s first two victories. [Sayled gets nine prisoners on his team while Kyan gets nine prisoners plus a twelve-year-old kid? That's cheating, and Kyan should be disqualified.] But Kyan doesn’t know Enn is hiding two secrets – ‘he’ is really a ‘she’ named Enna, and before the third trial a notorious gambler blackmailed her with her sister’s life to ensure long-shot Sayled wins. Her ‘mistakes’ in the third and fourth trials bring Sayled even with Kyan.
As the final trial begins with only a few survivors on each side, Kyan learns that Sayled is not his most dangerous enemy – someone on the Council wants both princes dead, and they’ve used dark magic to sabotage the trial. Unable to warn his father or stop the competition, Kyan must fight not only for the crown, but for his life.
Told in alternating points of view between Kyan and Enna, PRINCES AND PAWNS is a 70,000-word upper-middle-grade fantasy. Thank you for your time and consideration.
This is clear and well-written, but a bit long. What can we do without? For starters, you provide information that sounds like it might be important in the book, but whose importance isn't shown in the query. For instance, Kyan is a skilled debater with a gift for charming even the stodgiest of diplomats; the boy Enn is really a girl, Enna.
The two longest paragraphs introduce the characters and tell us their situation. They can be combined into one short paragraph, leaving more room for the plot:
King Rowden has announced that a series of five trials will determine the heir to Creftenbaugh’s throne. Fifteen-year-old Prince Kyan will compete against his twin brother, the quick-tempered Sayled. Each prince will lead a team of nine criminals from the prisons, ordering them through the trials as a general would his troops.
There seem to be an unnecessarily large number of people involved in sabotaging the trials, considering that it could be decades before the winner actually becomes king. (Or is the king dying?) You've got Sayled trying to sabotage Kyan at every turn, a notorious gambler trying to rig the trials, someone on the Council wanting both princes dead, plus the gambler's pawn, Enna. It's almost as bad as the US presidential election. For the query, it's enough to tell us that someone's trying to rig the trials. Even in the book, maybe it's better for Sayled, rather than a gambler, to blackmail Enna.
A monarchy that decides the heir through trial rather than date and time of birth seems progressive, but it seems like if they're that progressive, they'd hold off on the trials till the princes were in their twenties. Again, is the king's death imminent?
Each prince has a team of adults to command in the trials. I don't see how a twelve-year-old kid ends up being the key to who wins each of the first four trials. Is Enna one of the prisoners? If not, what are the rules with regard to recruiting additional team members? If Kyan can recruit someone capable of influencing the outcome of every trial, Sayled should be allowed to recruit a brigade of mercenaries.
To me, the trials themselves are the most interesting part. If we eliminate Enna from of the query entirely (which also eliminates the root of my annoying questions), making the evil councilperson and Sayled the only villains, there'd be room to tell us what a couple of the trials are like.
Is the point of making the princes twins to give them the same birthday, thus requiring a means to choose an heir? Because monarchies are prepared for such an eventuality. Or did you make them twins so that one can easily impersonate the other?