Saturday, January 15, 2011

Query #4: "Hang the Thief" by Vivian

This query is from Vivian for the novel Hang the Thief. Thank you Vivian for the honour of allowing me to work on and post this!


Gates open on the world of Craie and magic, in all its forms, returns: healing magic, summoning magic, and magic that brings back the monsters of fairy tales. As governments race to master it for their own gains, the lure of wealth and power beckons others to use it for evil.

Ehlana, a street performer turned thief, is adrift in this world without purpose or hope – until she saves a court official from assassins. With her own life now at stake, Ehlana flees. On her journey, she sees for the first time how the peasants have been left to fend for themselves against the broken-beasts, criminals and social injustice. And when harpies attack her barge, she learns magic wielders are learning not only how to summon the monsters, but also how to raise the dead--abominations that are nearly invincible.

Ehlana believes she has found the life she wanted. Her flirtatious charm and performance skills earn her all that she desires: wealth, fame and even love. Her happiness is lost when she begins having nightmares of doom that drive her to seek meaning from a mysterious temple. Ehlana confirms what she already suspects; the gates must be closed. Using her unique gift to understand any language she hears or reads helps her decipher ancient scrolls that explain how. She further discovers, it will take magic to close them – and the cost of wielding such magic is the user's very soul.

Accompanied by four companions, Ehlana must complete the ritual necessary before it's too late. However, a betrayer travels with her, a demon lies in wait and the price to be paid is even greater than they know.

HANG THE THIEF is a 95,000-word fantasy written to stand-alone, but planned as the first of a three-part series. I look forward to sending you the completed manuscript.


When magic returns to the world, all that changes for Ehlana, a street performer and thief, is she now understands every language she hears. This helps her save a court official from assassins, but also earns her the fury of his rival, and suddenly Ehlana's magical gift feels like a liability.

Fleeing her new enemy, Ehlana realizes magic is proving a curse everywhere. Governments scrabble for it to cement their power, and criminals summon monsters and raise the dead to bludgeon their way to wealth. Those who have no magic struggle to survive amid lawlessness and a decaying social order.

At first, Ehlana tries to ignore the suffering and rebuild her life. Flirtatious charm and her performance skills earn her money, fame--even love--but her ability to understand anyone has apparently left her open to the pleas of otherworldly beings too. Nightmares drive Ehlana to break into a temple, and her gift for language lets her decipher the set of ancient scrolls she finds there.

Now Ehlana is the only person who knows why magic has returned and how to stop it, but the cost, if she wants to halt her world's slide into chaos, is Ehlana's soul--a harsh price for a thief who just wanted a simple life.

HANG THE THIEF, a complete 95,000 word stand-alone fantasy, is the first book of a planned trilogy. I look forward to hearing from you.

Goblin Caveat: Some elements that may not be accurate for the novel have been added to this edited version of the query.

Have any thoughts about either the original or the re-written query? Please join the discussion in the comment thread!