Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee
Publication Date: May 25, 2023
Summary from NetGalley:
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.
ARC provided by Random House via NetGalley for an honest review.
Overall I enjoyed this book, the characters, the story and the world building were all fine and well done, but the pacing was slow throughout most of the book and downright glacial at times. Because of this slow pacing I found that my attention waned and it was hard for me to keep on reading at times. But I did complete the book and I am glad I did.
The overall premise of the book was delightful, the knights of the round table being resurrected whenever England was in peril. But this time when Kay is resurrected he doesn’t find a war going on, but rather a war of a different nature, climate change. The setting of a near future Britton being hot and slowly flooded by waters was rather depressing at times. The author did an excellent job of showing what the future might look like if we keep going the way we are.
Kay and Mariam are the primary narrators with a some of the other characters chiming in when needed. Lancelot also had quite a few chapters from his perspective. I really enjoyed Kay’s character, he just wanted to get the job done and go back to sleep under his tree. But he does start to care a bit more about what is happening to his country and how he might be able to help. Mariam was a bit harder to like. She was a bit on the whiny side and was hindered greatly by her insecurities and self doubt. She does manage to come around and realizes her strength is exactly what is needed to get the job done.
One of the best parts of the story of the story was Lancelot and Kay’s relationship. They had grievances from their pasts that were hard for them to get past, and they fought like brothers, but were able to come together in the end. I also loved Merlin, he was a bit of a mess and I loved that he was growing ‘magic’ mushrooms to help the world. There is also a squirrel character, Barry. He was a white supremacist that tried to kill Kay, and was turned into a squirrel for his troubles. His character arc was great and he was sometimes the comic relief in tense moments.
The overall world building and plot were well done. There needed to be a bit more description at times, like when they were doing the spell that brought Arthur back. They kept going on about needing certain objects to do the spell, but then only one of them seemed to be used? It was odd. Overall the pacing was slow, and was also hindered by overly preaching about the climate and how the earth was in trouble. Once Arthur came back the pacing picked up but then we were rushed to the end in about 75 pages. The ending was good though, and hopeful even though the world’s troubles had not yet been totally solved.
This was a good mix of a futuristic setting with characters coming from myths and legends. This is a debut book, and when looking at it through that lens, this was well done. I would probably pick up another book by this author in the future.