A Good Knight-time Read

The perfect politician: honest, trustworthy, hates pre-written speeches, speaks his mind, and has combat experience, but fights only as a last resort. He is kind, courteous, the perfect gentleman. He minces no words, and you know what he’s thinking at all times. To what lengths does one go to get this person?

How about a thousand years?

Enter Mr. Arthur Penn (short for Pendragon), who fits the above description perfectly. After a thousand years of rest, King Arthur has come out of retirement. But what is a once and future King to do after being reduced from a great historical figure to a mere legend? The Euro-trash of the British Royal Family wouldn’t have him (too honorable) and any declaration of his identity would buy him a free room in a Creedmore psychiatric ward.

Simple answer: become President of the United States. However, before doing that, building a political history would be a good start. So, King Arthur, heir to the throne of the Britons, etc. will settle for being Mayor of New York City.

With his trusty political aide, Merlin, at his side, King Arthur bravely heads out into the political landscape, with Excalibur on his hip, and an interesting collection of political staffers backing him up, including his accountant Percival (or Parsifal, depending on his mood) and his personal aide, Ms. Gwen DeVere Queen.

Along the way, Arthur must deal with his sister Morgan le Fey, and his bastard son Modred (a political consultant for the Democratic ticket), in fights that range from a mystical shootout in Hell on Earth (Verona, New Jersey), to a swordfight in the Cloisters.

For some, this may sound like a bad LSD binge, or-for those familiar with his work-Knight Life, the creation of Peter David, New York Times best selling author of some of the most demented novels ever written. During the presentation of King Arthur’s political campaign, David presents some interesting solutions to the lack of voter turnout of young citizens the ages of 18 to 24 (simply tell them not to vote, guaranteeing that they will), gun control (“I prefer a light broadsword myself”) and science (“Scientists believe in nothing, while magicians believe in everything, which is why magicians get so much more done”).

Knight Life is a light, funny novel, part fantasy, part political satire (assuming you don’t consider politics fantasy) and, quite simply, a fun read. All in all, it took me under six hours to readthe book in one sitting. The humor is witty, with just the right amount of truth to it, making it even funnier. Peter David manages to encapsulate the magnificent detail of New York City down to the pond scum in Central Park (well, maybe not that detailed), as well as to integrate King Arthur in such a way as to make it believable that-should he show up one day-this is exactly what would happen.

So, before you head out to the polls on Tuesday, crack open Knight Life for a candidate that’s truly medieval and then try voting for one that isn’t too modern. After all, as Robertson Davies once said, “Nothing grows so old-fashioned so fast as modernity, you know.”