Re: Message from the new boy
Welcome aboard, Anthony.
Publishers do shy away from first time writers who exceed the 100,000 word mark by too much, so be careful. As has already been said 80-120k is a decent guideline.
As has been said, your villain does need to have at least some motivations that the reader can understand - this helps to humanise him/her a little and thus makes his/her evil acts all the more horrifying. It's even better if you can add a little trait that the reader can actually like or relate to - really screw with the reader's mind.
I'm with the others on religion - have it or don't. There is plenty of good and evil in the world that has nothing to do with religion. A lot of it is just about money, power or sex.
Totally agree with Iansales re the infodumps - try to drip feed them to your reader - little snipbits of info at a time.