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Percival and the Presence of God
Jim Hunter
Pendragon Fiction/Chaosium, 168 pages

Percival and the Presence of God
Chaosium, Inc.
Chaosium is best known as the makers of Call of Cthulhu, a horror RPG set in the supernatural world of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. Mulder and Scully have never met the Elder Gods. As well, they publish Elric, a heroic sword & sorcery RPG along with Pendragon, set in King Arthur's Britain.

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Chaosium, Inc.

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Neil Walsh

Percival and the Presence of God was first published in 1978 in England, where it saw only limited circulation. Chaosium has chosen to reprint it as part of their Pendragon Fiction line, complementary to their Pendragon role-playing game. In fact, it is the first work of fiction published under this imprint, following The Arthurian Companion by Phyllis Ann Karr, which is an alphabetical who's who and what's what of Arthurian legend.

In his introduction to this book, Raymond H. Thompson, the Pendragon Fiction series editor, calls Hunter's Percival a "Christian existential novel." It's an oddity, all right. Perhaps even more existential than it is Christian. Not much action. Lots of introspection. And yet, very visceral. Thompson quotes the author as saying that it was his desire to write something "so vivid that it felt as if you were out there in the wind with it." Well, he succeeded; you'll be turning up your collar to keep out the bitter winter wind, no matter what the weather happens to be like outside your window as you read it.

The action, what little there is, follows more or less the story of Percival as laid out by the medieval French and German writers. Percival leaves home with the idealism of innocence and youth, in search of King Arthur and the Holy Grail. The twist in this version is that it's told in the first person by Percival himself, but after he has already lost his boyish naïveté and is looking back on his earlier adventures which brought him to where he is now. It's very short -- I didn't count words, but I imagine it only just barely classifies as a novel -- and therefore quick to read. And well worth reading. If you've ever wondered what a Christian existential novel might be like, this is an intriguing little work. Highly recommended.

Copyright © 1998 by Neil Walsh

Neil Walsh is the Reviews Editor for the SF Site. He lives in contentment, surrounded by books, in Ottawa, Canada.

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