I think I figured out why my prologue wasn't working. There's a complicated back story to the novel which involves characters we won't see in the main story. While the amount of detail I went into is great for shaping the back story and the incidental characters, I don't need to show my work. I fell in love with the back story so much that I forgot that it was background.
Now, I'm going through the novel and simplifying the back story and trimming away the exposition. That will hopefully allow me focus more on the present day action and main characters rather than on the past events. I think I'll call this the Star Wars prequel axiom. Back story for the writer; main story for the audience.