This synopsis goes with the Face-Lift that appeared July 3. If you haven't read that yet, and you like to play Guess the Plot, scroll down now, as you are about to encounter spoilers.
Hang The Thief - Synopsis
A misguided and outcast scholar unwittingly is used by a demon to open gates that bring great evil into the world. The deities as a result awaken and give their faithful the power to save lives. [How long have the deities been asleep? It would be annoying to discover that the reason your prayers have gone unanswered is because the gods have been hibernating for three millennia.] Monsters enter through the gates and natural disasters also occur which kill hundreds. The gates also allow magic to enter the world which gives mankind the power to cause great good and great evil, including the ability to create and use the undead. [Is that an example of great good or great evil? Because if I could use the undead to read slush, that would be good.]
On the day the gates open, Ehlana is seventeen years and adrift in her world without hope or purpose in life and she joins a thieves’ guild for the easy money. Six years later, Ehlana sees two people enter the sewers. [Are you just hitting the highlights of the book?
Scene 1. Chaos reigns as monsters are released into the world.
Scene 2. Six years later two people enter the sewers . . .
Are the monsters still around? What's been happening for six years? Not specific events if there aren't any important ones, but what's the world like? Are people and monsters coexisting? Are monsters killing people right and left?] She is spurred to action when she discovers that one of them is a notorious assassin. She follows the assassin into the sewer and learns that an evil cult is worshipping there. She takes this information to the watch and a high priestess. [Hi, I'm with the local thieves' guild, and I'd like to report a worshiping violation.] With their help she infiltrates the cult, learns of their plot to kill a court official and helps the watch seize the coven. Not all of the cult members are arrested and her life is now in danger. [If the authorities needed someone to go undercover, why would they choose Ehlana? Why not one of their own or at least someone who's never been a member of a criminal organization? And why does Ehlana care if some court official gets killed?]
Ehlana leaves the city for her protection and goes to the Bashkir region where she becomes the clans’ bard and learns their ancient language and that of the gypsies. Three years later [The book keeps starting over. Is there a connection that holds all the parts together besides the fact that Ehlana is in all of them?] the world stands on the brink of war partially due to the catastrophes caused by the gates. Ehlana has dreams and is advised to go to a temple to discover their meaning. She and her guide are joined by a barbarian priestess who believes Ehlana is a child in prophesy. [She's at least 26 years old by now.]
Ehlana learns through visions that the gates need to be closed [It's been over nine years since the gates were opened, bringing death and destruction and monsters upon the land, and no one has thought of closing them yet?] and in order to find out how they must go to the Anaran Academy and Library. There Ehlana using her abilities to read ancient texts and decipher riddles hidden in songs, learns how to close the gates. Although she hates magic and those that use it, she is not convinced they should be closed, because the gods’ gifts would cease as well. [Gates open = Monsters + natural disaters + evil magic (includes undead) + good magic. It's three to one.] She chooses to forsake her destiny but changes her mind when an undead army annihilates the Bashkir region. [Okay, okay, I'll close the lousy gates. Jeez, you'd think nine years of monsters and zombies was the apocalypse or something.]
Ehlana along with friends travel to place the gates were opened and she performs the ritual necessary to close the gates but is killed by the demon’s death knight before she succeeds. The gates are only partially closed. [That's it? The end? She's killed? After failing? That's like Gollum grabbing the ring from Frodo and shoving him into the fires of Mount Doom. Like Westley, Inigo and Fezzik getting killed and Buttercup marrying Humperdinck. Like Babe losing the sheep herding contest and Farmer Hogget selling him to Oscar Meyer.]
The opening of the gates begins the chaos. The closing of the gates will end the chaos. In between, we want to know about the chaos. Closing the gates doesn't seem so important if all you tell us about the nine years they've been open is that Ehlora spent six years as a bard and then helped prevent one guy from being assassinated. And someone almost went to war with someone. Is the zombie attack on Bashkir the only thing that's happened that's bad enough to spur Ehlana to action? Is studying in the library the only thing Ehlora does to try saving the world?
I see it as a problem that your main character accomplishes absolutely nothing. She has to succeed. If she fails, you may as well scrap this book and write one about the character who comes along later and gets the gates closed. That's the character we want to read about, not the one who accomplishes nothing.
What do the monsters look like? The Incredible Hulk? Dinosaurs? Calling them monsters makes it sound like a kids book. What are they?