Fall of Knight
by Peter David
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Hardcover Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 044101402x
Date: 06 June, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Once word gets out about how Gwen was miraculously cured--courtesy of the Holy Grail--Arthur finds that he cannot ignore the pleas of a world with so many sick and dying people in it. He listens to a proposal to create a drink called "Grail Water" and goes along, little realizing the danger this will put him in.
Meanwhile, Merlin has problems of his own. Stuck in a juvenile body (from having aged backwards for most of a millennium), he is unhappily reunited with Nimue, who kept him prisoner until he managed to escape. She offers a dire prediction for Arthur and leaves when Merlin's nastiness grows too sharp for her taste. Is it possible he'll give love one more chance? Maybe, but he should know better than anyone that magic and love are a volatile combination. Not only that, but Arthur will need his help and (just like last time) Merlin may be too distracted to give it.
At the same time, a Roman Catholic cardinal and a shadowy figure bent on possessing the Spear of Destiny both seem poised to make Arthur's life especially hellish, via the very artifact that saved Gwen's life. Misusing a holy relic carries some pretty harsh penalties. After all, everyone knows what paves the road to Hell.
David's best-known style--light, breezy and chock-a-block with well-chosen pop culture references-- is rarely so well employed as in his Knight novels. His Arthur is a true treasure of light fantasy, fully human and yet a walking legend both, full of foibles and yet the sort who could lead battalions into Hell. His cast of returnees from Camelot, reborn into the modern era, are true to themselves, though the outcome now is generally happier (or more harmonious) than it was in the age of myths.
Not that they don't have challenges; they do. New enemies (some of them also reborn) crop up, while modern times has plenty of originals who hate, fear and/or envy Arthur. And not that he doesn't have magical challenges to resolve as well, such as the true nature of Excalibur and its relationship with certain events from prehistory.
Anyone looking for a delightful Arthurian tale set in the here-and-now will enjoy David's trifecta of enchantment. It's not your father's King Arthur-- but it might be the one you share with your kids.