I liked the 2nd paragraph from your 1st query you listed. And the 4th paragraph from the you 2nd query you listed.
This is just me ~ but what do you think this about for your 1st paragraph’s last sentence.
“But there is one thing he does not expect: the narrator, Pennington.”
“But there is one thing he does not expect:Pennington, the narrator.”
If that’s not what you had in mind I completely understand.
then I think it would flow better w/ your 2nd paragraph from the 1st query you listed.
Prince Calder departs to rescue the kidnapped Princess Arianna. He expects dangers. But there is one thing he does not expect: Pennington, the narrator.
Fed up with the author’s cliché plot, Pennington orders Calder to ignore the kidnapped princess. He will create a more engaging story. Calder doesn’t believe him and, determined to be a hero, refuses.
Then Pennington completely rewrites Calder’s backstory. Suddenly Crown Prince Calder…isn’t. He’s lost his inheritance and the confidence that he’s not a storybook character in one sentence.
Now Calder’s story is no longer as straightforward as he thinks. Does Arianna still need to be rescued? Is he surrounded by friends or by enemies? Is he the Crown Prince or the youngest son?
Losing his sense of identity, he clings to his quest, determined – at all costs – to beat the narrator and end his story, his way.
Also I think your first sentence could be more of a grabber. I think it should maybe start out with something about the narrator because that’s what differnt about your story. ~ I wish I would have thought to say that before I read both your queries 20 x. 🙂
Hope that was helpful??? If not, disreguard.