Author: Kevin Bennett
Published: 4th October 2011
Number of Pages: 169
In a future where horses are revered as gifts of the gods, and sheep and hounds are the beasts of burden, ancient magicks have been rediscovered. But there are those who wish to uncover the technology of the past and take control of the world for their own evil ends. Now, more than ever, the world needs a hero. In the tiny hamlet of Ooze, a hapless, fish-faced, flaky-skinned youth named Pike is about to commence a quest: to win the heart of the fair maiden at the Pit of Zidor, and to release Moorlock the Warlock from the captivity of his mortal enemy. Accompanied by a garrulous sparrow and a belligerent horse, Pike is captured and then employed by the lisping Lord Nairey du Well in his sheep-drawn carriage, and then pursued by the deadly huntress, Scarlet Deadnight - du Well’s partner in tyranny.
Pike soon discovers:
- that fair maidens are not always female,
- that they can prove to be deadly foes, and
- the true value of a good moisturiser!
This comic fantasy turns the genre on its head and is a must for readers of all ages.
Pike's Quest is the work of Kevin Bennet, an emerging author who decided to self-publish his book. I really had no expectations about this book; I know this is completely wrong but I often choose a book from its cover and if the author hadn't offered me a copy of his novel, I think I would have never discovered Pike's Quest. And I would have lost something really magnificent! I was amazed by the author's writing skills, he was so expert in describing landscapes, monsters and all circumstances that it really impressed me. Pike's Quest was an alternative reading for me, because I think it is distinct from other books.
The plot is kind of ordinary and it re-used the idea of chivalry, common in the Middle Ages; I think is not a coincidence that in the title we find the word "Quest" that symbolises the research for something. The book is set in a magical
world, even if is not full of common mythological creatures such as Faeries, Dwarfs or Werewolves. The author created a brand new world that had been destroyed in the past by the men's desire of achieving more and more power. In this devastated world, lived people such as Pike and his family; the most precious thing is melon, horses are sacred beasts and men are not allowed to ride them. At his sixteenth birthday, Pike would have never expected to be the One who would have been chosen to save the Warlock Moorlock, the only who can assure to Ooze peace and serenity.In his "quest" he will be helped by a Sparrow, called Robyn, ( and not Robin!!) and Horse, the omonymous animal, that will accept, after a lots of falls, to be ridden by a human being. In their journey they will encounter strange animals, cannibal flowers, giant sabre-toothed worm and one-eyed Winglekrats. At the end of his journey, Pike must win the heart of a fair maiden, but what if fair maidens are not always females? Twist, hilarious scenes and a strong moral will make this book a very interesting reading.
What will immediately comes to your mind, as soon as you start reading Pike's Quest, is the pinch of humourism that the author loves to put here and there. I have never read comic books but I have to admit that sometimes I couldn't stop myself from bursting into laughter! Besides, the humor was always soft and well placed during the course of events .I noticed, during the reading, that for the first time there was not a depth descriptions of the characters, of their passions or feelings toward other people, but I felt like it was not necessary. In other book there are often entire chapters dedicated to a particular character or to the protagonist; in Pike's Quest this is not present: the author succeeded in revealing the characters' features, only by describing their behaviours during certain situations, the way they reacted in front of difficulties. As for Pike, I can't remember a chapter in which he was widely described, even if he was the protagonist. By the way I feel like I know him, and I could see the he had greatly grown up, during the course of events. There was a real evolution of the protagonist: from the beginning to the end, the change was nearly palpable. I really enjoyed the importance that the author gave to animals; personally I'm an animal lover so this aspect of the book really impressed me. I think the moral of the book is simply unique, really. Under all the humorism and the fantastic circumstances the author wrote this book for a purpose, and I'll explain what I mean with a quote from the book, that I really liked:
"Man needed forts and cities, then the cities and forts needed technology so that they could outdo each other and gain power - and this time I mean the sort of power that corrupts, where some men rule over others and expect those others to be totally subservient. Man is unique in this aspect, Pike: once human tastes
power over just one thing, he wants it over all. One village is not enough: he wants a town, then a city, then a whole continent. Finally, the world."
Guest Post – K J Bennett (Kevin) – Author of “Pike’s Quest”
I discovered Sara’s website through a reading/writing community called Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com) and was taken with her enthusiasm for books. Then I was fascinated by her love of English language. It makes me feel rather humble when I read this site, as my Italian is terrible. So before plugging my own work, let me say this: thank you Sara, for inviting me onto your website. I think that what you have achieved here is quite extraordinary. The standard of your written English is far in excess of that of the average UK student of your age. I work in a job where I read reports written by people of all ages, and if they all met the standards that you have achieved, my job would be easier.
OK, that makes me feel better! Now down to business.
Why I wrote and self-published “Pike’s Quest”
I have been writing fiction all my life (and I’m nearly 55, so that’s a long time). I wrote my first novel in 1998 and, frankly, it was a good idea, badly written. Then I wrote another, and another, and a screenplay, and a few short stories (I’m not good at short stories) ... quite a lot of stuff, really. I sent masses of stuff off to publishers and agents, and no one wanted to read it, let alone publish it.
Then, back in 2008, one of my cousins, Babs, in Australia was running a website for members of my massively extended family to make contact with each other. She suggested that we write an on-line novel: each participant would write a chapter each, and once the last person had written his/her part, it would go back to the first person and the cycle would start again.
My brother Paul came out with the original premise for a story set in a medieval village in England, and the main character would be called Pike. His father was a fletcher (an arrow maker) and there were a few other bits and pieces that Paul mentioned. I wrote chapter one and changed many things from Paul’s initial idea. The story went off in a very strange direction and I didn’t really like what happened. The upshot is that I used the first part of my opening chapter to start the novel. At the same time, I was writing a short story for a local competition. I used the premise of “Pike’s Quest” as the basis of the short story: it came thirteenth out of fourteen entries – not a good start. BUT, I wrote the first chapter again for another competition and it got 2nd place.
I then spent the next year writing the rest of it. I happened to meet a publisher named Barry Cunningham – he used to work for Bloomsbury publisher and is the man who signed JK Rowling (Harry Potter) to that company. Barry had left Bloomsbury and started a company called Chicken House. He agreed to read “Pike’s Quest” and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, he didn’t think it was suitable for his readership due to the complex word play and humour. He was very supportive and urged me to submit it to other publishers.
In the UK at least, most publishers will not accept book submissions unless they come from literary agents. Most literary agents do not taken on new clients unless they already know them or they absolutely love the book – liking a lot is not enough: it has to be true love! OR, if you are a celebrity with no writing talent whatsoever, an agent may decide to sign you up and do a deal with a publishing house to publish books under the name of the celebrity, using ghost writers to actually do the hard slog of writing.
Anyway, I spent a small fortune in printing and postage costs sending my sample chapters to agents. Unlike my previous attempts, the agents started writing back to me, praising the work but giving me reasons they couldn’t take me on. One agent told me, in writing, that it was the best written submission she had seen for months, but she didn’t like the story! Others told me they really liked it, but they didn’t know which publisher would take on a comedy/fantasy.
In early 2010 I met a lady named Marlene Johnson. She is the managing director of Hachette Children’s Books. I explained the plot and humour to her. She told me it sounded hilarious. Then she asked me what age Pike was supposed to be. He’s sixteen for most of the book. Marlene said that the book would have to be aimed at boys aged thirteen years and therefore she could not publish it, as "You can’t sell books to thirteen-year-old boys!" Apparently, in the UK, reading is not cool, and thirteen-year-old boys don’t buy books. This was news to me: my son was a book addict when he was thirteen, and still is at sixteen! Most of his friends are also bookworms.
I decided, then, that I’d have to take matters into my own hands. In October 2011 I published “Pike’s Quest” as a Kindle e-book. I don’t know how many thirteen-year-old boys have bought or read it, but I do know that readers of all ages have enjoyed it. Nearly all the reviews on Amazon UK and US sing its praises. I didn’t set out to write a ‘Young adult’ book. I still don’t regard “Pike’s Quest” to be one. Most of my reviewers seem to be in the forties, fifties and sixties!
I have now published it in paperback. As of 6 July, you should be able to order the paperback version through Amazon – UK, US and all European sites.
I may never get rich by self-publishing, but at least I have readers!
TWITTER - @kj_bennett
FACEBOOK - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pikes-Quest/217399291625570
GOODREADS - http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5300157.K_J_Bennett
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Google Plus https://plus.google.com/u/0/115147965321366761648/posts
To celebrate the paperback release of “Pike’s Quest” there is a giveaway offer – I will give one lucky reader of Sara’s blog a paperback copy of the book. I can only send it the UK, Europe or the USA. Sara will specify the rules.