Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee – Blog Tour Book Review!

Being reborn as an immortal defender of the realm gets awfully damn tiring over the years—or at least that’s what Sir Kay’s thinking as he claws his way up from beneath the earth, yet again.

Kay fought at Hastings, and at Waterloo, and in both World Wars. After a thousand years, he thought he was used to dealing with a crisis. But now he finds himself in a strange new world where oceans have risen, armies have been privatised, and half of Britain’s been sold to the Chinese. The dragon that’s running amok, that he can handle. The rest? He’s not so sure.

Mariam’s devoted her life to fighting what’s wrong with her country. But she’s just one ordinary person, up against a hopelessly broken system. So when she meets Kay, a figure straight out of legend, she dares to hope that the world’s finally found the savoir it needs.

As the two quest through this strange land swarming with gangs, mercenaries, and talking squirrels, they realize that other ancient evils are afoot. Lancelot is back too–at the beck and call of immortal beings with a sinister agenda. And if their plans can’t be stopped, a dragon will be the least of the planet’s worries.

In perilous times like these, the realm doesn’t just need a knight. It needs a true leader.

Luckily, Excalibur lies within reach–and Kay’s starting to suspect that the hero fit to carry it is close at hand.

I can’t tell you how much I adored this book. It’s filled to the brim with brilliantly written characters, magic, social commentary and part of it is set in my hometown! Back in the time of King Arthur, Merlin foresaw that England would be in dire need of it’s Knights again, so he convinced them to drink a potion and tether themselves to trees, sleeping in the earth until awakened when England needed them most. Over the centuries Sir Kay and his fellow Knights have fought Saxons, mercenaries & Nazi’s, but nothing can prepare him for what he finds when he digs himself out of the dirt this time. England isn’t just in peril, it’s dying. Climate control failed, the waters rose and now the population of the country live in camps surviving off the paltry offerings of the land. Mariam has devoted her life to fixing what’s wrong with her country, but she’s just one person up against conglomerates and the government who do a very good job of pitting the people against one another. When she crosses paths with Sir Kay, she thinks her prayers have been answered, here is one of King Arthur’s fabled Knights of the round table, but she quickly realises that the stories she’s heard of the King aren’t exactly true and she comes to realise that there’s no such thing as hero’s, just people fighting for whats right, which is exactly what she’s planning to do.

Perilous Times is told through multiple POV’s, the main three being Mariam, Sir Kay and Lancelot. Mariam is someone I instantly bonded with. She’s someone fighting for whats right, the never winnable battle, but she’s certainly not going down without a fight. She is a character who goes through a whole boat load of character growth throughout the story, going from someone who thinks that a hero is all they need to save the world, to someone who realises that hero’s very rarely live up to our perceptions of them and in fact it might just be someone normal, someone like Mariam who desperately wants to save her world that might actually be able to do it.

Kay is fed up of his life, every time he crawls up from the earth it seems to be getting harder and harder, and each time he wonders whether the battle he’s fighting is actually the right one. Through his POV we get an insight into not just the time of Arthur, but the time after that, and the people/government officials who learnt of Kay and his brother Knights and used them as weapons to fight their battles. He is so incredibly done, with life, with England with people, but when he meets Mariam he see’s a glimmer of hope, someone worth fighting for. Lancelot is… not the kindhearted and loyal Knight that you might remember from the stories. Unlike Kay his moral compass is slightly shaky and he has less inhibitions when it comes to who he fights for. He starts off as a bit of a dick, I wont lie to you, but the more time we spend in his head & the more we learn about the fabled King Arthur, the more Lancelots aloofness and lack of fucks start to make sense and you come to see the true man behind the persona he puts on.

Lee takes the legend of King Arthur, the noble and kind King and just annihilates it. In Perilous Times Arthur’s a bit of a dick, someone who would start a war over the smallest slight, who treated his brother like he was dirt under his shoe and never listened to his advisers. Similarly Lancelot, as I mentioned above is not the Knight you might hope for or remember, he’s incredibly jaded and willing to fight for whoever offers him the best creature comforts. Some people might not like this, but I loved it. It fit perfectly with the morals and social commentary Lee was hoping to bring, the fact that the people we look up to as hero’s, those we revere very rarely live up to our expectations of them. Through Mariam and Kay and Lancelot he shows that if we want change, we can’t expect others to step up first, we have to be the change because those in power who we look up to are generally only looking out for themselves.

There’s plenty of other social commentary as well, mainly focusing on climate change and how we all seem to be hoping that there’s going to be some big magical fix to save the planet, but magic can’t fix everything. Lee’s world is one that doesn’t seem overly far away which added an almost sinister air to the story. A world where the polar ice caps have melted and countries are now largely under water, where rivers have dried up, animals have died and the people who are supposed to be trying to fix it are instead planning their escape to somewhere better. He shows how those in power pit us against one another because it’s only when we stand together, put aside our petty grievances that change will actually occur and while this all sounds far fetched and a little political, Lee keeps it realistic, there is no magic fix at the end, just a group of people willing to come together over a shared goal. Also, I think the tagline for this book should just be #FuckRacists, in fact just fuck anyone who tries to demean someone else because they’re different, because it’s a story filled with diversity which I adored.

I loved this book. It’s a bit dire and doesn’t end in the positive way you might expect, but it still read like a hug in a book thanks to the brilliant characters that Lee writes. Is it political? Yes. Is that the point? Also yes? But it’s also filled with magic and love and people desperately trying to be the best they can be. It’s witty and irreverent and Lee’s writing style makes the story move at a breakneck pace despite the amount of inner monologue. And even if it wasn’t all that, it’s partly set in my hometown and the theme park I used to visit as a kid, so an instant win for me. I genuinely can’t wait to pick up whatever Lee writes next.

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