Ten years ago Sir Percival was sent on a quest for the Holy Grail. He returns to England (here called by it’s old name of Albion) to kind that King Arthur is dead and so are all the other Knights of the Round Table, Queen Guenevere is in hiding in a northern abbey, Norse raiders have taken over London and it’s surrounding areas. The woman responsible for this havoc is Morgana who remains in the land in the hopes of finding and killing Merlin the Wise. Then her quest will be fulfilled. I like that this is an Arthurian tale after Arthur. The only other book like that I’ve read is Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant (which is fantastic). It also turns canon on it’s head quite a bit. In some instances this is great, like Lancelot being a bit of a jerk. In other instances, like no acknowledgment whatsoever that Lancelot is Galahad’s father are strange. Similarly, Percival speaks of his father but never mentions his name. Canonically, Percival’s father is King Pellinore and he has several brothers, all of whom were also Knights of the Table. None of this is addressed in this book, so the reader is left to assume that none of that is true here. Things like this make me feel like I would have enjoyed the book a whole lot more if I didn’t already know Arthur’s story backwards and forwards. The deviations from the norm were so great that they distracted me, rather than intrigued or delighted me. I know that it’s difficult to put a unique spin on a story this old, but I feel that other authors have done it much better. On a positive note, I really liked original character Capussa. He was a gladiator with Percival in Egypt who hails from Numidia (modern-day Tunisia and Algeria in northern Africa). Unlike Percival, Capussa had a sense of humor; he loved a good joke and enjoyed the rapt audiences he always had for his stories. Unfortunatley, his stories were mostly about Percival so we learned very little of Capussa’s life before the two met. While I didn’t hate the book, I won’t be checking out the rest of the series.
Review by Jessica A.