|Peter David: Knight Life|
Books (Paperback), ISBN 0-441-00936-0
Stop the music. Forget A Knight's Tale, with Heath Ledger clanking around in a 14th century soup can. The "boy" who comes back in Peter David's Knight Life is that slayer of Saxons, righter of wrongs, defender against demonic evil and Round Table facilitator extraordinaire: the one, the only King Aaaaarthur Pendragon!
And restyled as Arthur Penn, an Independent candidate for mayor of New York City, he wants your vote.
Miraculously, some of Arthur's enemies and allies survived the millennium-long hiatus, as well. No one seems to be able to kill Morgan Le Fay and Mordred. Like bad pennies, they just keep turning up to wreak havoc. Percival, who won immortality courtesy of the Holy Grail, becomes Arthur's campaign treasurer and staunch ally. Reincarnated with good intentions but extremely poor judgment, Guinevere gums up the works, though not in the manner you might suspect. And Merlin, who gradually aged backward into the body of a precocious 8-year-old, has his hands full trying to keep Arthur's campaign from flying apart at the seams.
Humor can be difficult to pull off in print, but Peter David scores big with this fish-out-of-water story of the legendary warlord and his efforts to assimilate into the culture of the Big Apple. David deftly mixes his knowledge of the Arthurian legends with New York City eccentricities to create a giddy brew indeed. Updated for the 21st century, the new-and-improved edition of Knight Life features such howlers as Merlin invoking his PC's SpellCheck function to search for -- what else? A certain type of spell.
I feel compelled to dispel one bungled myth, however, because I am sick unto death of people espousing it as fact.
At one point, Arthur refers to reading about "the separation of church and state" in the Constitution of the United States. Sorry, your highness, that phrase hails from Article 13 of the constitution of the now-defunct Soviet Union. In 1802, President Jefferson wrote a letter to a group of Baptists in Danbury, Conn., in which he declared that it was the purpose of the First Amendment to build ''a wall of separation between Church and State.'' The phrase never appears in any official U.S. document.
But don't let that inaccuracy prevent you from enjoying this comic romp heralding Arthur's re-rise to power. Although I read it with more than a touch of nostalgia for the days before September 11, Knight Life provided me with a most welcome diversion from present reality. Arthur Penn certainly captured my vote.
Kim D. Headlee
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