Okay, after doing quite a bit of extra research and based on PureZhar's comments above I decided to try a different approach. Sometimes I feel like I'm all over the place but this is the process! I attempted to incorporate the essence of Keirann's fear but also her strength. I also attempted to provide more details that some have commented on were missing (yet still avoiding -too much- explanation as I had in prior versions). I'm basing this version off a similar format of an author who was quickly picked up, repped, and now has a book deal (before anyone claims there's too much world-specific info lol). Word count for queries is 250-300, and this is on the higher end but being that it's an epic fantasy I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to whittle it down more than it already is.
Anyways, as ALWAYS I appreciate all feedback!! Thank you guys for sticking with me this far and providing all the help you've given me! If I haven't looked at your query let me know and I'm happy to return the favor!
Keirann may be many things: stubborn, willful, and a ferocious fighter, but the High Priestess of the Ivory Throne won't be next on the list.
My very first reaction, and I haven't even read further yet is, where is this great hook?
Healing the sick and infirm comes naturally to Keirann, but so does pounding soldiers into the dirt on a sunny afternoon.
And here is the reason why I think it's great. The last part, pounding soldiers into the dirt on a sunny afternoon, explains everything about her. Who she is, what she does, that she doesn't shy away form getting dirty, that she's though. The new hook is okay, but compared to the one you had it sounds ordinary.
Lacking in two of the most important things to qualify – belief in the goddess and skill in the magical art of weaving – no one believes Keirann when she denies her potential This part raises questions. Fearing an unwanted future of obeisance to the Faith and the heavy-hand of her father if she doesn’t comply, Keirann concocts a plan to run away. I think you had this better in the previous version. It was a lot clearer and had more punch.
Yet when Keirann accidentally mires herself in the machinations of a religious cult, she finds herself in the possession of an ancient artifact. lol some people will ask, but wait, how did she get the artifact?? You know what I'm saying A mysterious voice whispers promises of aid if she keeps it safe. With the artifact in hand, Keirann soon becomes the target of mercenaries more than willing to spill innocent blood to get what they want, and villagers name her Feyling a prophesied creature bound to the goddess. I'm tossing between both version. The previous one and this one. I know this won't help you. Can't decide.
Rumors of war and rising floods of destitute refugees haunt Keirann as she flees. When her actions result in the slaughter of an innocent family comma Keirann turns back, bereft with guilt. Captain Niall, a soldier who stirs in Keirann desire and envy, intercepts her return. Tasked with protecting Keirann, Niall must help her unravel the truth behind the mercenaries waging war against the people of Angern. So far you were talking about the village, now it's Angern. To avoid confusing, I suggest to mention the name before. I'm not too sure if the switch of POV works great here. I mainly struggle with the repetition of 'Rumors of war' and then later 'waging war against'. If you can get all this into one smooth part, that would work better.
They unearth a plot connecting the cult to the mercenaries do you want to go as far as revealing that they unearth the plot? , but the enemy is shifty and hard to pin down. Soldiers prepare for battle and Keirann finds herself on a fast track to the future she despised. Teetering on the edge, she struggles to balance her desire for freedom with a rising sense of duty. But accepting her fate may very well cost Keirann her soul and the lives of everyone she loves.
This is going to be mixed. As I already mentioned, I totally miss the previous hook. I also preferred the second para of the previous version better. What I like better in the new version is where the query is heading with Niall. However, I wouldn't go as far as the part where they unearth the plot. I don't know the story, but is there a way to build the last para around their challenges they encounter while unearthing the plot? Blend the third and last para together into one and I think then you're on the right track.