Perilous Times

by Thomas D. Lee

Hardcover, 2023



Call number



Orbit (2023), 544 pages


"An immortal Knight of the Round Table faces his greatest challenge yet-saving the politically polarized, rapidly warming world from itself-in this slyly funny contemporary take on Arthurian legend. 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 privatized, 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 savior 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"--… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Anniik
TW/CW: Death, violence, fantasy violence, language, thoughts of suicide, war, body horror, incest


REVIEW: I received a free copy of this book from Ballantine Books and NetGalley and am voluntarily writing an honest review.

Perilous Times is the story of near-future England, and its
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struggle with a climate situation that has spiraled entirely out of control. Sensing the peril in the land, two Knights of the Round Table (yes, from Arthurian legend) awake with the goal of saving their land – or at least helping those who are already trying to make a difference.

This is a good book. While that paragraph above seems to make this a weighty book, it really isn’t. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and is fun to read. The story was really unique, and I really enjoyed Lee’s treatment of some of the characters. The whole thing with them being bound to the trees was also very interesting. The writing was good (for the most part) and while the book was very long, I didn’t really get bored.

There were two little issues I had with this book, however. Once was that the author seemed to over-rely on sentence fragments. In my mind, once in a while there’s no problem with using fragments in order to convey a certain feeling. But using it continuously and multiple times a page just seemed a little too much. There’s nothing wrong with complete sentences, either. And second…I know I call this a lot, but I don’t see why every book has to be 500+ pages anymore. This book moved less slowly than many I’ve read, but it was still more bloated than it needed to be at almost 600 pages.

Over all, though, I really enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to fans of fantasy and disaster books/movies.
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LibraryThing member ladycato
I received an advance copy via NetGalley.

I've felt largely burned-out on Arthurian rewrites since I was a teenager, lo those many years ago. And yet, something about the concept of this one hooked me: Arthur's knights reawakening in response to the climate emergency. Even better, the book
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absolutely lived up to the high concept. It's dark and gritty and laced with dead-pan humor, fantastical and wry all at once.

The two principal characters are Sir Kay and Miriam. Kay was more accepted with his black skin back in the 6th century than he has in his recent returns, clawing from the dank earth beneath his assigned tree, ready to fight on Britain's behalf both at home and abroad. This time, he awakens as a nearby structure is being attacked by Mariam, an eco-terrorist. Their hesitant alliance occurs as other immortal figures are also in motion--Lancelot, Marlowe, Nimue, and others.

This book delivered constant surprises. The near-future setting of heat, mass flooding, and devastation feels disturbingly plausible. Kay is such an incredible character, a man who has suffered much across many lives and still mourns for his wife after over a thousand years of separation. Lancelot--I won't give anything away, but wow is his character arc incredible. Even though the central concept is about the Knights of the Round Table, it really centers on Mariam, which is only right. I felt leery about her at first, but through Lee's immersive writing, I came to know and understand her.
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LibraryThing member LibStaff2
3.5-4 Stars
A unique Arthurian retelling with some interesting ideas and plots, this end-of-the-world fantasy is quirky and snarky. I like the characters and loved the reinvented Kay, but I think there's so many working parts here that some themes get a little lost. More backstory for the knights
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would have been great! If you like adaptations of classics and fantasy works, you may enjoy this novel, too. There's a couple of times where the story drags just a bit, but keep going, it's worth it. I'd read another one by this author. For adult audiences.

Net Galley Feedback
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LibraryThing member tapestry100
Imagine Arthurian legends in a contemporary yet dystopian setting, doing battle with not only dragons but climate change, add in a generous helping of wry humor, and you have Thomas Lee's Perilous Times. A little slow at times, and the topic of climate change could be heavy-handed, but overall
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still a fun read. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books that most people are either going to love or hate, depending on your stance on the climate crisis.

Perilous Times by Thomas Lee will be available June 23, 2023.

Thanks to Ballantine Books and NetGalley for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

#PerilousTimes #NetGalley #fantasy #Ballantine #ThomasLee #ARC #eARC #bookreview #bookstagram #bookblog #books #book #frommybookshelf #frommybookshelfblog #bookblogge
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LibraryThing member sleahey
In a future that is all too believable, climate change is on a course to destroy the world as we know it. Humans are not solving the problems, but luckily Merlin's magic makes it possible for certain knights of Arthur's Round Table to come back to life in perilous times and save the day. Sir Kay,
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Arthur's brother, finds himself waking up to come to the rescue of Mariam, an ecoterrorist who has inadvertently set off a fatal explosion. When the two of them join forces, their misadventures are sometimes hilarious, always exciting. Although this book seemed to bog down a bit in the middle, it was great fun to read this version of familiar Arthurian heroes and villains. We can hope a sequel is forthcoming.
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Original language


Physical description

544 p.; 9.29 inches


0356518523 / 9780356518527
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