Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
Knight Life
Peter David
Ace Books, 343 pages

Knight Life
Peter David
Peter David is a prolific author whose career and continued popularity spans nearly two decades. He has worked in every conceivable media -- television, film, books (fiction, non-fiction and audio), short stories, and comic books -- and has acquired followings in all of them. In the literary field, David has published over forty novels, several of them New York Times bestsellers; and his short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. He lives in New York with his wife, Kathleen, and his three daughters, Shana, Gwen, and Ariel.

Peter David Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Star Trek: New Frontier: Fire on High
20 Questions with Peter David

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Victoria Strauss

Peter David began his novel-writing career with Knight Life, originally published in 1987, a humorous tale that turned Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court on its head by positing an Arthur transported forward into our time. It became something of a cult classic over the years, much in demand by David's fans. Now it's been re-published in a beautiful hardcover edition, revised, updated and expanded (by 20,000 words) by the author.

The novel opens on Morgan Le Fay, contemplating suicide. Immortality is no picnic when all your old adversaries are dead and you've been reduced to living in a roach-infested apartment in New Jersey. Determined to have one last gloat over her ancient enemy Merlin, imprisoned for eternity in a cave, Morgan summons up a magical vision on her TV set... and discovers to her astonishment that the cave has been unsealed. Merlin is free! Invigorated by the prospect of renewed battle against the hated enchanter, Morgan casts aside her suicide plans (along with a couple of hundred pounds of ugly fat) and begins to plot revenge.

Meanwhile, Arthur has been released by Merlin's sorcery from his own imprisonment, and transported to Manhattan. Merlin (who, in a nod to T.H. White, is aging backwards, and now has the form of a 10-year-old boy) believes the world still has need of the once and future king, and is certain Arthur can do better this time around -- if he can avoid the rash actions and impetuous decisions that led to the downfall of Camelot. But the road to rule is a tricky one, and it's best to start small. Arthur decides to inaugurate his modern political career by running for Mayor of New York City.

It won't be easy. Arthur has charisma to spare, but he's not exactly a present-day politician. There's Morgan to deal with -- newly powerful and on the warpath, in league again with Mordred (also a survivor of the centuries, his natural shiftiness put to good use as a PR whiz working for Arthur's opposition). And then there's Gwen DeVere Queen, who bears an astonishing likeness to Gwynyfar and is living with a morose and occasionally abusive slacker named (what else?) Lance. Will the love triangle trip Arthur up again? Will Morgan prevail? And even if Arthur doesn't repeat the mistakes of the past, will history repeat itself anyway?

David answers these questions and more in rollicking style. The novel has a little bit of everything: deft satire (a mayoral candidate whose main qualification is that he played one on TV), laugh-out-loud humor (the Lady of the Lake, glumly dealing with the pollution of Central Park Lake), low comedy (a pair of addled muggers who stand in for the Knights of the Round Table), a love story (Arthur and Gwen, together again), breathless magical action (courtesy of Morgan's nasty enchantments), potential tragedy (can Arthur really escape his fate?) and a solid grounding in Arthurian themes, amusingly transposed to the present day. There's also some convincing commentary on the absurdity of modern times. Like Twain's Connecticut Yankee, Arthur views the world in which he finds himself from the mindset of a very different age (though, thankfully, without the Yankee's smug moralizing), and these views, together with liberal applications of common sense, have the potential to change everything.

Knight Life was a first novel, and despite David's revisions it still shows in places, with some awkward transitions and dialogue that at moments of crisis becomes a bit too bombastic. But these minor caveats don't diminish the fun of this breezy revisionist fable. Fans will be pleased to know that a sequel, tentatively titled Dead of Knight, is in the works.

Copyright © 2002 Victoria Strauss

Victoria Strauss is a novelist, and a lifelong reader of fantasy and science fiction. Her most recent fantasy novel The Garden of the Stone is currently available from HarperCollins EOS. For details, visit her website.

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide