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Brooke Shaffer

Author, Ski Patroller, and Pasta-Eater Extraordinaire

How Am I Supposed To Read These Things?!

You may have noticed it a little at some point in the past couple weeks, but now the big announcement that the next exciting installment of The Timekeeper Chronicles is set for release late next year (think November/December).  That is, The Hands of Time. The new trilogy will focus primarily on Rifun and Cassius, how they got to where they are, how they met, where Isthim comes into play, and it gives more details on the events surrounding the Dispersal of 1963.  I'm not going to give any more than that at this time.

This does not mean that The Chivalrous Welshman is ending.  In fact, it's only just getting started, and Free Time is still on schedule for a Summer 2020 release.

That's great, you say, but then how am I supposed to read all of this? One side novel is one thing, but a whole new series?

Yes, I answer.  And that's not all.  In fact, there are several more series in the works in the TKC universe.

Oh, wonderful, you say, another media universe.

Well, if you haven't read my take on media universes, I will put it simply, in the context of TKC: The Chivalrous Welshman is the solid backbone of the series.  It is the core, the center, the hub of all the information you will ever need to know.  Unlike some universes (*coMarvelugh*), it is not utterly imperative that you read every itty bitty side adventure to follow the main narrative.  There will be enough information, enough back story, enough filler, in TCW books, to propel you to the end.  In the same way that Of Saints and Sinners was not mandatory to understanding Windup or Stopwatch or any future books, so the upcoming side series will be.  They will provide greater context, depth of character and motivation, and may drop a few nuggets of information and trivia about your favorite characters.

On that same token, each series is designed to be standalone so that any new reader can start with any series and not be completely lost in the shuffle of characters and events.  The series feed into the backbone rather than branch off of it.  It is also completely self-contained so you can finish the last book and not feel as though something is missing.  Again, more fun to read them all, but not mandatory.  That said, for those of you already familiar with the characters and how Time works, etc., the new series may serve as a nice refresher of the basics of Time and the Time industry, or it may simply provide a new perspective on things through various cultural and historical lenses.

But, Brooke, you say, that doesn't answer the question. How am I supposed to read these new series in conjunction with all the other books?

Excellent question, says I.

There are a few different ways you can read through them.  I might include graphics later as more books and series are released.

Method One: By Release Date

The books are released in an intentional order.  Of Saints and Sinners came after Windup in order to elaborate on Walter's speech.  Releasing it between Tick Tock and Windup might have worked to some degree, but it fits better after Windup.

Similarly, although The Hands of Time will cover a time period mostly separate from The Chivalrous Welshman, its direct connection to the events of the first four TCW books makes it so that it is best read after Stopwatch, when that arc is more or less resolved and segues into another, greater arc.

For two grueling years (yes, I'm a glutton for punishment), there will even be three books released in a year, one Spring, one Summer, one Fall/Winter, one book from three different series.  My God, you say, why would you do such a thing?  And how am I supposed to read those?  The best answer would be, in the order that they are released.

Method Two: By Branch via Release

Basically, this is like going on a total side quest.  So, the first book of The Hands of Time is releasing after Free Time.  This method would basically mean breaking off of TCW after Free Time, going to read The Hands of Time in its entirety, then coming back for book six of TCW.  Or, breaking off after Free Time, reading THoT, going to read Totally Mysterious and Unknown New Series, then returning to TCW.

Method Three: By Series

Maybe you're a purist and want to finish each series by itself before moving on to another series.  That's fine.  I would recommend reading TCW first.

At the risk of giving away too much information way too soon (as in, years in advance), you will be safe in this method up to Book Ten of TCW.  By the time we get around to this, I'll probably have detailed graphics and stuff, or you can check the Timeline on The Timekeeper Chronicles website.

TCW was originally scheduled to have fifteen books (sixteen, but then I axed the last one).  If you know my writing methods, I bull through the series and, quite frankly, I'm almost done with the complete TCW series (woot!).  After some deliberation, I elected to break up the series into two parts with a dividing line between Book Ten and what would have been Book Eleven.  I'll elaborate more as we get closer, but mostly it was logistics and pacing and other things.

But with that breakup, everything after Book Ten is a cluster and everything before Book Ten is a cluster, and there are two side series after Book Ten.  You could feasibly read those side series first, but you would be hella confused to try and start any "Before" series after that if you weren't already following at least TCW.

Maybe I'm making things too complicated with stuff that hasn't happened yet and is years down the road.  As I said, I might make some cool graphics to help out with this as more series begin to emerge, especially in those two hellish years with three books coming out (why do I do this to myself?).

One more question, you say.  How am I supposed to afford all of these books?

Fair question, says I.  Ebooks are nice, or you can go to your local library and see if they would be interested in purchasing said books.

-Brooke Shaffer

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