Project X-Calibur

( 4 )


Ben has been an underdog his whole life. But when he meets Merlin—the Merlin—the wizard delivers devastating news: a vicious band of aliens are approaching, and Ben could be the champion Earth desperately needs. 

Soon Ben joins the Round Table Reboot, where legendary heroes are training a new generation to battle the deadly threat. They have a secret weapon: X-Calibur. But this time X-Calibur is not a sword — it's a spaceship — and only the right kid can awaken its ...

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Project X-Calibur

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Ben has been an underdog his whole life. But when he meets Merlin—the Merlin—the wizard delivers devastating news: a vicious band of aliens are approaching, and Ben could be the champion Earth desperately needs. 

Soon Ben joins the Round Table Reboot, where legendary heroes are training a new generation to battle the deadly threat. They have a secret weapon: X-Calibur. But this time X-Calibur is not a sword — it's a spaceship — and only the right kid can awaken its powers.  All Ben has ever wanted is to be a hero…but is it in the stars for him?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this fast-paced adventure, newcomer Pace infuses science fiction action with Arthurian myth, creating a genre-blending tale in which a group of teens must save the world from the imminent threat of an alien invasion. Thirteen-year-old Ben Stone is great with fixing cars, but a social zero. Then he's recruited by the legendary magician Merlin to participate in the secret Round Table Reboot project, along with four other talented teens. As they undergo testing to determine who will fly X-Calibur, a captured alien spacecraft, in order to defend Earth, Ben discovers new strengths and weaknesses. He is on the verge of being cut from the program when an unexpected challenge gives him the chance he needs to tap into his full potential. The intriguing concept, mixed bag of characters, and plentiful action and training scenes make this an exciting, if somewhat predictable page-turner, vaguely evocative of Ender's Game or The Last Starfighter. The unusual juxtaposition of fantasy and science fiction elements works well, and fans of both genres should love Ben's stalwart, self-sacrificing brand of heroism. Ages 10–up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Life is tough for Ben as he struggles to help his mom make ends meet while dealing with the everyday injustices of school and bullies. The last thing he needs is a creepy-eyed kid who appears to have magic powers turning up out of the blue and telling him he has been chosen to save the world from an imminent alien attack. At a high-tech training facility in London, Ben becomes part of the Round Table Reboot, a top-secret mission to recruit adolescents and remake them into modern-day knights. His training is conducted by an original member of King Arthur's Round Table, and by the famous wizard Merlin. Echoes of Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief (Disney-Hyperion, 2005) are evident in this action-packed novel. An underdog kid is plucked from his ordinary life and offered a heroic destiny, all the while discovering that legends and heroes of the past are, in fact, still very much part of the present. Readers will enjoy the high-stakes premise and high-tech gadgetry, but will feel the uneven pacing. Too much time is spent explaining that Ben is falling short at his exercises and drills, and after waiting so long for the climactic alien battle, the story ends fairly abruptly. But, for fans of Arthurian legend, save-the-world adventures, and tales of unlikely heroes, the good outweighs the bad.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA
Kirkus Reviews
The Sword in the Stone meets Ender's Game, with most of the suspense and all of the logic sucked from both. Pipsqueak Texas teen Ben Stone is recruited by Merlin, a little boy who doesn't talk like one and claims, with patent absurdity considering what follows, that "there's no such thing as magic." He finds himself joining four (later five) peers at a secret British base run by the ageless Percival Pellinore, last surviving Knight of the Round Table. Their mission? To become instant spaceship pilots and defend Earth from the alien fleet that will be arriving in a week. Their weapons? X-Calibur, an ancient spacecraft of alien manufacture that will, conveniently, allow only a child to pilot it, plus four inferior copies of the craft kitted up like cargo-cult models from images of the original. Having had his butt repeatedly kicked (an expression of which Pace is inordinately fond) in practice games against sword-wielding practice robots and his fellow candidates, Ben seems like a failure until he demonstrates reckless courage and leadership qualities. So when the aliens arrive early, he takes charge and blasts off in X-Calibur (with the original sword, which was made centuries ago from a strip of hull metal) to battle their leader. There are no surprises here. "Don't think," says Ben unoriginally. "Do." That seems to be Pace's modus operandi too, but here, the Force is definitely not with him. (Science fantasy. 10-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399257063
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 10/31/2013
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 416,431
  • Age range: 10 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Greg Pace has been a lifelong creativity junkie. From drawing and putting together models of classic movie monsters, to playing guitar in an Atlanta based heavy metal band , to performing stand-up comedy throughout Los Angeles and selling movie scripts to Hollywood, Greg's life has often been his very own action adventure. But it's his love of horror, sci-fi, and his number one passion — writing — that makes this first book so satisfying and exciting for him. Greg currently lives in Los Angeles.    

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Read an Excerpt

The curves of the tunnel ended at two enormous steel doors in front of us.

“What do you keep in there?” Tyler asked, mouth agape. “Godzilla?”

“Maybe you can wrestle it,” Kwan joked.

An electronic scanner glowed red at the side of the door. Pellinore leaned down and smiled, letting the device get a read on his teeth. The glow turned green and the massive doors slid open, revealing an empty room the size of two football fields, with a hundred-foot high ceiling.

Eyes twinkling, Pellinore turned and shouted into the vast space. “Reveal X-Calibur!”

Nothing happened. The five of us looked at each other, confused. Had Pellinore and Merlin gone senile in their old age? There was a hiss in the center of the room, along with the faint whirr of gears turning below the floor. A section of the ground split in two.

My hands clenched and unclenched at my sides. As I took a step forward, my mind raced back to the stories Dad would tell me about the most famous sword ever crafted, and how it had been kept in an underground cavern before rising up from a magical lake to reveal itself to King Arthur.

As the floor opened wide, something rose up on a steel platform. My jaw dropped.

X-Calibur wasn’t a sword at all. It was the most kick-butt spaceship I had ever seen.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 4, 2014

    Synopsis - It took some convincing to get Ben Stone to believe t

    Synopsis - It took some convincing to get Ben Stone to believe that this odd little kid in front of him was Merlin, THE Merlin. It turns out that the 1000-year-old wizard really was in the form of an 8-year-old boy. If that’s not weird enough, Merlin tells Ben that aliens are about to attack and conquer Earth, and that Merlin is here to recruit Ben to be part of the super secret group – The Round Table Reboot. Merlin needs Ben to fly X-Calibur (X-Calibur being a high-tech space ship not the sword, but the sword DOES exist) to fight off the aliens. X-Calibur runs best in the hands of kids. Merlin and Percival Pellinore (who is immortal because he drank from the Holy Grail back in King Arthur’s day) are forming a new group of knights (who happen to be kids) to face an even bigger danger!

    What I thought - Think of King Arthur meets Science Fiction and ends up in your back yard. WOW. I am a fan of the King Arthur legends and I thought this modern story idea was cool. I get nervous when people rewrite stories I love, but Mr. Pace put an awesome slant on this story! I love how there is no magic in the book – it’s all done with electronics and technology. Ben is a great main character. He’s a typical kid who has a kind of rough life so you end up rooting for him and liking him. The other kid characters that get recruited are also enjoyable to read about. They all have very different personalities. Mr. Pace writes incredible action scenes that kept me turning the pages. I’d love to see another book in this series.
    *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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    Posted October 20, 2014

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    Posted November 8, 2013

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    Posted December 13, 2013

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