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Monday, May 22, 2023

Book Review: Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee

Perilous Times
by Thomas D. Lee
May 23, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: urban fantasy, dystopian, Arthurian legend
ISBN: 9780593499016
An immortal Knight of the Round Table faces his greatest challenge yet—saving the politically polarized, rapidly warming world from itself—in this slyly funny contemporary take on Arthurian legend.

Legends don’t always live up to reality.

Being reborn as an immortal defender of the realm gets awfully tiring over the years—or at least that’s what Sir Kay’s thinking as he claws his way up from beneath the earth yet again.

Kay once rode alongside his brother, King Arthur, as a Knight of the Round Table. Since then, he has fought at Hastings and at Waterloo and in both World Wars. But now he finds himself in a strange new world where oceans have risen, the army’s been privatized, and half of Britain’s been sold to foreign powers. The dragon that’s running amok—that he can handle. The rest? He’s not so sure.

Mariam’s spent her life fighting what’s wrong with her country. But she’s just one ordinary person, up against a hopelessly broken system. So when she meets Kay, she dares to hope that the world has finally found the savior it needs.

Yet as the two travel through this bizarre and dangerous land, they discover that a magical plot of apocalyptic proportions is underway. And Kay’s too busy hunting dragons—and exchanging blows with his old enemy Lancelot—to figure out what to do about it.

In perilous times like these, the realm doesn’t just need a knight. It needs a true leader.

Luckily, Excalibur lies within reach.

But who will be fit to wield it?

With a cast that includes Merlin, Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and King Arthur himself—all reimagined in joyous, wickedly subversive fashion—Perilous Times is an Arthurian retelling that looks forward as much as it looks back . . . and a rollicking, deadpan-funny, surprisingly touching fantasy adventure.

Kay wakes up again, which means England is in peril. This time it is not a war or just England itself, but the whole world due to climate change. Parts of England are flooded by the rising seas and melting icebergs. The military has become privatized. Scotland is not a part of the British Isles, and Wales is its own country again. And Manchester, England, where Kay is directed by the god Herme to wake King Arthur, is split into different Communistic groups. And he is not the only knight reawakened either.

It is an interesting blend of fantasy and science fiction dystopian, mixed with Arthurian tales. There is a lot of stuff going on—some that could have been chopped from the book. Still, it addresses climate change, showing a future most people won’t like, but possible (taking out the fantasy part.). Part 2 of the book is when it starts to get really going.

I gave Perilous Times 4 sheep.

Reviewed by Pamela K. Kinney

About the Author:
Thomas D. Lee is an author of fantastical and historical fiction. In 2019 he completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester’s Centre for New Writing. He has now embarked upon a PhD at the same institution, specialising in queer interpretations of the Arthurian mythos. He frequently considers emulating Merlin and becoming a hermit in the woods who speaks only in riddles.

He has previously worked as a copywriter and a high-school teaching assistant.

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