Dear Query Shark:
In a sunless, frozen world, the landscape is difficult to travel, cities are built underground, and wars are fought with assassins, not armies. The king's city of Vastii is a corrupt metropolis struggling to recover from a recent plague that had ravaged the working class; its tunnels are rife with mercenaries, murderers, insurgents, thieves, and members of a secret police who feel that the sword is the best way to hold back a violent revolution.
Avoid the temptation to set the scene in a query letter. You don't have enough page space to do that. Start with who matters, and what's at stake.
When a lord of a prominent city north of Vastii turns hostile to the monarchy, the king takes his niece Wyrren Jadis as a political hostage to prevent her family from aiding the rebellion. The king also has a twelve-year-old grudge against the Jadis family, and with his niece under heavy guard in his palace, he attempts to make Wyrren accuse her father of murder.
Between betraying her father and endangering herself and her companions, Wyrren instead looks to fight a king in his own court with what little resources she has: a formal education in government, a specialty in a non-combative magic, three female bodyguards posing as her maids, a high ranking slave allowed access to the city, and whomever is willing to associate with a woman outside of the king's favor. The most powerful of her potential allies is an ambitious young nobleman who may or may not have honorable intentions.
This paragraph is where you finally get to what you should have started with. Wyrren is going to do battle with the king so she doesn't have to betray her father to her uncle. Ok...so what? Maybe her father IS a murderer and a snake (no offense to snakes of course, some of my dearest colleagues are rather slithery.)
And unless there's some sort of twist on this story, I'm left thinking ya ya ya, who isn't battling a wicked uncle these days.
Blue Crystal is a complete novel of 95,000 words, written for adults who enjoy action, intrigue, and dark fantasy. I've included the first X pages.
Right now you don't have anything that makes me want to call you up and demand pages instantly. There's no hook of any kind, and nothing about the plot suggests an interesting twist or dilemma.