Ok, here's my heart on the table, have at it, you piranhas and do your dirtiest. I only aim to improve.I know RJS about high fantasy. I've read maybe six authors and I've only liked three, so, I have no clue about your specific questions. As for the query, check out http://bethanymyers.blogspot.com/2011/12/quesy-from-queries.html
I wouldn't mind some input on the genre as well. I specified to 'high fantasy' for several reasons.
-It takes place in an entirely invented world
-There is an element of Good vs. Evil. (despite how uninteresting the initial conflict appears)
-There is an 'ancient' language in place in the world
-There is a coming-of-age theme
-It's going to take several books to tell the whole story
Ok, without further ado (why am I so nervous?)
It is not clear why Richard, the charismatic newcomer to the small town of Berdes, has come to buy much land and enclose it against prying eyes (This reads passive and flat. Hooks are beyond my ability to write, so I advocate that first line must PUNCH and either introduce your character in dramatic fashion or your inciting moment/crisis. Ideally both.). Having just returned from a successful hunt, Darek finds that his fatherís farm and sawmill are being threatened by Richardís financial pursuits (This entire sentence is passive.) Try: But Richard's ambition threaten Darek's farm and sawmill. . In an effort to finally gain acceptance from his father, Darek attempts to meet with this man and dissuade him from the purchase. The deal that Darek strikes with Richard sets in motion a journey to lands far from home and wrought with vengeful alchemists, ancient guardians of earth and sea, enormous stone eating creatures, forgotten ruins, and an elusive beast of myth, all while being stalked by ominous strangers. (Who's your protag, D or R? Who's story is this? I suspect this is D's story. Begin with him and the encroaching gazillionare on the family farm.)
Luckily, Darek is not alone. He has the companionship of his three closest friends. Brandon, a fellow hunter, has a glimpse of the outside world gained from cryptic books he acquired from the golden eyed wandered. Volker, raised in privilege in the nearby capital city of Marinth, has training with bows and swords and will find them put to the ultimate test. Aaron, ever humble, cautious and trusting, has been reluctantly allowed to bring along his cherished lute, which turns out to be more helpful than any could have foreseen. As they venture far into the unknown, they are faced with situations that challenge every truth they ever took for granted. They find they must work together and trust one another if they are to succeed or even survive. (You want to focus/name ONE protag and maybe your big bad. You can have, (if you write better than me) multiple characters/POV/nations but in the query, it just becomes name soup. You summarize a series of events but I don't have a sense of the crisis or conflict. We need to have a sense of jeopardy.)
TITLE HERE is the first novel of a fantasy /adventure series and is complete at XXX words. (This is right where you want it.)
BRMyers advocates the three C's: character/crisis/conflict spanning the first-fifty pages and NOT to exceed the first third. Write hard, come back strong. We'll wait.