Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Book Review: King's X Episode 3: Shepherds by Stephen Harper

King's X Episode 3: ShepherdsI have to confess I feel a bit guilty to have read and reviewed Episode 3 so soon after Episode 2 when I have so many other books in The Stack. I'll point out here that I've never met the author and don't know him any better than any of the other authors I've traded posts with on various forums, or who have done a Q&A with me. However I have realised that a) I really want to know how the series is going to end and b) that these short stories (or novellas, not entirely sure of the word count to know which they are technically) are ideal for reading when the Monkey is having a nap.

This episode picks up the two threads from the last book - in LA Book is still in the company of Jacob, his wife Trudie and Molly, hiding out. Back in the 13th Century Broussard continues the journey started in Episode 2 and with Khali, Shahin and his fellow Templars is racing away from a mysterious Mongol and his unlikely allies to try and protect a secret.

Molly has started to discover a much greater clarity about the position she finds herself in and is able to enlighten Book and the reader as to the nature of the King's X to a greater degree than before. Book remains uncertain about whether she and the others are enjoying some sort of group delusion or whether there is a massive secret hidden from the world at large. A revelation about his father comes as a shock but seems to fit with what he remembers from his childhood and makes their story more credible.

It seems that all the main characters are destined to live their lives on the run and this book is again a mix of action and reflection. We learn a lot more about the shadowy Shepherd previously encountered by Molly and Book and although I am still not entirely clear about exactly what the King's X does I certainly feel like I am closer to understanding. This book also reveals certain links between the two time periods which brought a new dimension to the story for me.

This book is pretty plot driven with the characters now pretty well established, although it was interesting to see Molly veering between scared teen and newly enlightened woman who feels responsible for what she has brought upon Book. There really isn't much let up in this series, with new revelations and more information to further illuminate the bigger picture round every corner. I don't think it'll be long before I find an excuse to read Episode 4.

Format: Kindle, review copy
My rating: 4*

6 comments:

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Stephen T. Harper said...

Thank you very much again, TC. Maybe I should try to clear up some of the things you were wondering about.

The books are 25K words each, or slightly over 100 pages each in a paper back. I call them "Novella-length" because they are not technically "novellas" although they are more than long enough. They really are "Episodes" of on ongoing series, meant to be experienced like episodes of your favorite TV show. There is a long arc story that plays out over the course of several episodes (again, like a full season of Doctor Who or 24 would have one big season-long tale). In this case, Episode 4 will deliver a satisfying conclusion to this entire story arc. But even then, the story will continue, as Molly, Book, The Shepherd, and the others have led lives in many different eras. So the second series will feature the continuance of the modern story, and an entirely new historical setting. In this way the tales of the King's X will go on for as long as we like.

I decided on this format to take advantage of the fact that ebooks allow publishers to sell books for 99 cents. I feel that, because of all the action, intrigue and romance, King's X is ideal for serialized story telling, and that each of these episodes is a terrific value for the price. It sounds like you agree, and for that I'm very glad. Thanks again for the review.

And one more thing, I wouldn't wait too long to get to Episode 4. All the twists and turns of the first three really collide at the end, and you'll want to remember all the details that went before when they do. :)

TC said...

Stephen, thanks for clearing that up for me! It's interesting that today I've seen the latest promo for Quick Reads books, I'm not sure how many pages they are (should have taken a look) but they sell for £1.99. I think they must be similar length so 70p/99c is very good value in comparison. I'm delighted that you'll be taking the series on to new eras, I love this concept. Will definitely fit 4 in soon then (and probably re-read them all afterwards, I get the feeling like some films and books a second reading will make them even better as you pick up things you didn't pay full attention to or missed the significance of first time round)

Stephen T. Harper said...

Haven't heard of "quick reads." Can't find it on google either. Is it UK only? It does sound like what I'm doing.

TC said...

Here's the website - http://www.quickreads.org.uk/about-the-books/new-books-for-2011 - from what I understand they're one offs, checked one and it was 102 pages. I think the aim is to encourage reading and improve adult literacy.

Stephen T. Harper said...

Thanks. Interesting. That is very cheap for paper. the KX format is basically designed to take advantage of the cost of publishing electronically. We can offer shorter, faster reads for a very fair price. So far, people seem to like the format.