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Perilous Times

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This was such a delightful read. I love fresh takes on Arthurian mythology, and I think the modern setting really delivered in this aspect. For those who like Pratchett, the humor seems to draw inspiration from there, so it was quite funny at times. I enjoyed following a knight of the Round Table trying to fight futuristic disasters like climate change. Will absolutely be reading the next novel by Thomas D. Lee.

Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for granting me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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What's a book that is a "you" book, that you slept on? Unfortunately was moving for a new job when "Perilous Times" by Thomas D. Lee came out, but it is definitely a "me" book.

Getting up in the morning is a little rough when you have to pull yourself out of the ground in chain mail. But that is the lot Sir Kay has to deal with. When the land is in peril he rises from the earth to thwart it. Which is much different than the last time he got up, why is it so warm in Britain? Mariam is fed up with talking about trying to save the planet is doing something about it. In this case it goes sideways and now she has to come to terms with the knight following her and the dragon she just saw. So it's been a bit of a day.

Reasons to read:
-What can people do in the face of the failing systems, broken by the people entrusted to fix things?
-It hits the same vein of humor and poking fun at concepts that "Good Omens" does for me
-Arthurian characters in a modern setting but with the historical context of what their time might really have been like, with the ultra violence and the pull out of Rome and most of them probably being kinda the worst
-Pointing at the real villains and doing something about it
-Racist squirrel redemption
-Maybe making new systems instead of using old ones that don't fit the times is a bad idea?

Cons:
-Pour one out for the good boy
-Ummm do we need to do basic empathy tests for leaders and business owners, because I can see a lot of people irl that would do this stuff

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I was not fan of this book. It had potential, but fell flat to me. The knights of Arthur’s round table are brought back to life up whenever the land is in peril. That means throughout history they would be resurrected and often fight in wars. But now (or this is set in the near future) it’s the climate and oil barons. And that is where it fell for me. The constant bemoaning of CO2 and eco terrorism. And in the end, it wasn’t even energy like oil that the bad guys were after, it was magic. Mariam could have been a good character, but there were just too many weird moments for me that ended up being awkward. I almost DNFed this, but stuck it out.

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This book started so strong, and then the pacing was so off by the end. I will still try this author again because I loved the modern day/Arthurian/Good Omens vibes this book gave off. The pacing was just rough and some of the themes were a little heavy handed. I think if the book was shorter, it would've been more successful.

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This is a very unique story combining Arthurian legends with a dark future where climate change has nearly destroyed the world as we know it. It's a dark fantasy full of human uncertainty, regrets, and failings, but with a small light of hope. I liked the characters. They all seemed fully rounded and fleshed out, although not as heroic as we would wish them to be--by design, I'm sure.

Merlin put a spell on each of the knights of the round table to return to life when England is at peril and they have many times, although not every knight wakes for every peril. They are reborn from the mud beneath the roots of their trees and claw their way out of the ground. Then they must find the peril and fight for the land. Sometimes there is someone to greet and orient them, sometimes not. This time there is no war to fight, but only floods, crop failures, crowding refugees, and infighting. What can a knight do to help against this?

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Perilous Times is a brilliant Arthurian modern day fantasy mashup by debut author Thomas D. Lee. Released 23rd May 2023 by Penguin Random House on their Ballantine imprint, it's 496 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback format due out from the same publisher in May 2024. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout.

This is an engaging and well told tale about Arthur - the Once and Future King, Avalon, and the knights of the round table, some of whom arise when Albion is threatened. Sir Kay is getting pretty tired of being dragged into life again from under his massive oak tree. This time, in the modern day, the planet's on fire, there's a rampaging dragon, Morgan le Fay's making a comeback, and there are climate activists all over.

It's *not* Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman (and comparing this to those two does Mr. Lee a disservice), but there really are a surprising number of moment of clear humor and promise of prodigious talent. It will be lovely to see how he develops as an author.

The book is long and quite intricate. There is little hand holding or spoon feeding of information, so readers who aren't familiar with the source material might want to brush up a bit before deep diving. For readers who love Arthurian legend and grew up with Le Mort D'Arthur and Parsifal, this is a truly, deeply satisfying read (plus shadow organizations and eco-warriors).

Four stars. Well written and insightful, humorous and poignant.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This was not for me. The plot was compelling, focusing on a future Earth where environmental terrorism abounds while the Earth itself is dying. The knights of the round table from the King Arthur myth actually exist, and are resurrected every so often to offer their assistance in times of strife. Though this was an interesting concept, for some reason I was not able to get into the book at all. The POV switched somewhat frequently between several of the knights, which I typically appreciate in a fantasy book, but because none of the characters really appealed to me, I just couldn't stay focused on the overall plot. I also think the story suffered from too little warmth from said characters, so that they sort of felt like caricatures instead of real people. Unfortunately, I stopped reading at around 40%. It may appeal to some audiences but it just didn't do it for me.

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Reading outside my normal genre on this one and I was happy I did so. Thomas Lee has written one hell of a book.

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I want to thank the author and publishing company for an early eArc of this book. I do want to start by saying that I love a good Kind Arthur retelling and I was looking forward to this one. I will say this for it to be an Arthurian retelling Arthur was not the main focus/point of the story and that's okay. It was a very enjoyable read.

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This one was just not for me I usually love King Arthur retelling but this one hit a little to close to home. I did not finish this book I DNFd at 22 percent. I could see this being for people who like some current politics in their fantasy.. Unfortunately that is not for me I tend to have a little more distance from modern day with my fantasy. This book just made me anxious.

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First of all, I would like to thank Random House for providing a digital copy of this novel via NetGalley. Perilous Times, while on the surface, a fantasy story on Arthurian legend, is hard to pin down to a single genre. While this subgenre has really populated the market, Thomas D Lee brings an enthusiastic, satirical, fresh energy to the fold. Perilous Times tells the story of Kay who is reborn each time he meets his end. So while this story features characters from Arthurian legend, it takes place in modern day England. This leads to some hilarious fish out of water moments, most notably involving Arthur. At the center of the plot is a climate activist group called the Feminist Environmentalist Transgressive Alliance ( FETA) and a plot to bring King Arthur to the modern day. The novel explores how stories told over time often portray images of people that are vastly different from who they were. I enjoyed the author's takes on characters like Lancelot and Merlin. My favorite character was Merlin. There were some interesting revelations that worked organically within the plot. I also enjoyed the inclusion of a detailed description of how Cordyceps take over insects. Perilous Times offers some fun times.

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This was not my usual genre but I appreciated the opportunity to read this book. The characters and the story were interesting and engaging but at times I felt the story was overly descriptive and long. This was a fun story! Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book.

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Who knew there could be laughs in a dystopian retelling with ancient magic? Loved the thought process of this one and glad I was able to view it!

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For a book with characters pitting themselves against xenophobia, climate changes, and some hard-core trigger warnings, there was a fair amoung of Pratchett like humor that had me giggling. It’s truly hard to express how wild and great this story was, and I’m not typically a fan of Arthur legends (anymore). This however took me back to the days when I was just discovering the Arthur tropes outside of the classic and reminded me why these characters from Merlin to the Round Table are adored no matter what fashion and dragons they’re up against. Thank you Netgalley for the Arc

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King Arthur is NOT the Hero of this Story - Marian Is
Reviewed in the United States on December 8, 2023
This story surprised me, which I guess says more about how little Arthurian fiction I have read then anything else. I was expecting King Arthur to be the hero of the story and Merlin to be the wise man, when in this story, Arthur is just every arrogant and self-centered boss who demands loyalty from those "under" him but who does not deserve it or offer it back to them and Merlin is a scientist who is more interested in pursuing knowledge than in how his actions affect other people.

Now, yes, both of those descriptions are not 100% true. There is more nuance to this story then that and neither of them come off as totally bad. Just not the heroes of the story.

Kay is the hero at first. As the tale progresses, Marian steps up. By the end, she's much more the central character than any of the Arthurian characters are. I mean, Herne, Nimue, Morganna, Lancelot, and others put in appearances, often playing strong roles that help move the narrative along. At times, it felt like maybe the author is trying just a bit too much to work everyone into the story or feels that his tool box must be emptied and everything used at least twice. Maybe this is just me not being familiar with Arthurian fiction.

At the core of it, this is about the climate crisis and is centered in the UK, so it involves politics that are not likely to be common knowledge among American readers, but don't really have to be deeply understood to enjoy the story.

I am avoiding spoilers here, as I really think you should read the book and decide for yourself. I think it was excellent for what it is and that is all I asked of it.

(I received this as a free ebook as an uncorrected proof through NetGalley. As it was marked as such, I am not going to comment on some obvious typos or incorrect word choices, as I do not know if they survived the editing process to make it into the published version.) This review is also listed on Amazon, but I can't get the link to copy.

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An expert knowledge of Arthurian lit combines with deft satire that recalls Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. Such a fun world to spend time in!

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A dystopian Arthurian retelling. Sir Kay and Sir Lancelot were two of the knights of the round table. For centuries they and their fellows have been in a cycle of death and rebirth everytime Briton was in peril. When Kay awakes this time, however, it seems to be end of days. Half the country is under water and everyone is fighting, out for themselves. Mariam, a member of a feminist eco-terrorist group (FETA), meets Kay as she prepares to blow up a fracking site. She doesn't trust Kay, but is interested in any help he can offer. Lancelot has also awakened and is quickly sent after Kay. There's some bad blood between them, and he's happy to hunt him down. Is there any hope for the future? With heroes like these, maybe so.

I'm a huge fan of retellings, and I haven't read too many Arthurian ones. This one was interesting, though I'm not a huge fan of climate change dystopias. I really did feel for Kay. The weight of centuries of fighting and dying sure would get you down. Despite all the setbacks, Mariam retained her hope. She learned that she had to stop waiting to be saved, and to get out there and do it herself. (It's hard to fully root for eco-terrorists though.) The fantasy elements just didn't have enough impact for my tastes. This world was very depressing to envision, though it did have a happy-ish ending. Not my favorite, though I don't regret reading it.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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This is a cute debut fantasy novel. I love how the author takes an old legend (King Arthur and the knights of the round table) and makes it refreshing and interesting.

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This was, by far, the most imaginative novel I have read this year. This is speculative fiction at its very best. Perilous Times will keep you hooked from start to end.

The novel opens with a strange awakening. Kay, an Arthurian knight emerges from the earth, no longer a corpse, but alive and tasked with a mission to save Britain – only he has no clue what this means or what he has to do. Immediately, he becomes entangled with a young woman, Mariam, who is on her own mission: to rid the world of corrupt corporate leaders who are poisoning the world and leading its few remaining inhabitants closer to environmental ruin.

The novel is set in the near future, when our climate has been so altered that most of Britain is now underwater and our environment is a grey wreck. Small bands of people live in squatter-like conditions and even smaller bands of rebels have formed to bring order to the world.

Fracking and profit-greedy corporations run public operations. A magical cadre operates on the highest level of corruption and government, and they have a secret weapon: King Arthur and the immortal knights of his roundtable.

But… this all it seems? This is a world stripped of romance and chivalry, and the knights of this mythic time are no less human than those they are tasked to save.

I will leave my description there. If this has not intrigued you yet, well… Hmph.

The ending will also put you in a spiral.

Lee also delivers the story with tremendous skill, the right dollop of humor, and the perfect dry drip of British snark. This novel is a joy to read on multiple levels.

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Overall this was a pretty unique Arthurian retelling and I enjoyed it. I do think there was quite a bit of little stuff that wasn't necessary and could have made the book shorter. I felt the book was pretty slow and was trudging through the first bit. It was a little too political for me. I loved the premise of the knights coming back to help with climate change but there was just a few bits where it felt like just political rhetoric. The racist squirrel kinda wasn't my jam either. Like I wasn't too into the redemption arc of a white racist all because he got turned into a squirrel and saw his men kill people even though he definitely saw them killing before and was about to kill a family right before he got turned to a squirrel. Also there is a dog that died for absolutely no reason so if you don't like that there's that too.
I'd like to share the few notes I took while reading this book
-Dando didn't need to die stop bringing it up
-Girthed (this one was because there was too much talk about girthing their swords when we could have just said sheathed)
-Nazi squirrel
-Are we really sympathetic to a racist squirrel??


Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC!

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