Orbit Books
May 2023
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Thomas D Lee’s debut novel (endearingly dedicated to his high school English teacher Mrs Parker “because I said I would”) sees several Knights of the Round Table colliding headfirst with ecological cataclysm and a group of enviro-warriors.

It’s a bold and brassy Big Picture story that cleverly weaves its disparate fantastical threads together to skewer corporate and political greed, reminding us of the likes of Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch.

Sir Kay awakens from his magical sleep whenever the realm is in trouble – he and his fellow Knights have fought at Agincourt, the Somme and every other major battle in British history for millennia, defending Britain selflessly – but now he is weary, and feeling that he is close to his final, long-awaited, slumber.

First though, he must fulfil his raison d’être: defend Britain. And this is a Britain almost overcome by pollution and anarchy. A Britain teetering on the brink of falling. At Sir Kay’s lowest ebb, how can he save a country on the brink, especially with Lancelot – his sworn foe – on the other side?

The seas are rising and reclaiming large swathes of the country, refugee camps are everywhere, people are starving, some hooked on toxic mushrooms which slowly take over their bodies, and a dragon has manifested for the first time in centuries – and through it all the obscenely rich and powerful continue to destroy the earth for profit. If that sounds all too familiar (apart from the dragon, maybe), well, it’s for good reason.

Despite its serious themes, Perilous Times is a hilarious satire – as anarchic as it is funny – and extremely well-researched vis a vis Arthurian legend.

Shane Pinnegar
Shane Pinnegar is an author, chef and music/pop culture writer who lives in Western Australia. He has a lovely wife, two rambunctious dogs with no respect for personal space, especially on the sofa or bed, twenty-something koi, a flock of itinerate galahs who visit regularly, and a never-comprehensive-enough rock n' roll record collection.

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