Perilous Times: A Novel (Hardcover)

Perilous Times: A Novel By Thomas D. Lee Cover Image

Perilous Times: A Novel (Hardcover)


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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.

“If you like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, you’ll enjoy Perilous Times. . . . An utterly original take on Arthurian myth.”—The Times


Legends don’t always live up to reality.

Being reborn as an immortal defender of the realm gets awfully 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 once rode alongside his brother, King Arthur, as a Knight of the Round Table. Since then, he has fought at Hastings and at Waterloo and in both World Wars. But now he finds himself in a strange new world where oceans have risen, the army’s been privatized, and half of Britain’s been sold to foreign powers. The dragon that’s running amok—that he can handle. The rest? He’s not so sure.

Mariam’s spent her life 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, she dares to hope that the world has finally found the savior it needs.

Yet as the two travel through this bizarre and dangerous land, they discover that a magical plot of apocalyptic proportions is underway. And Kay’s too busy hunting dragons—and exchanging blows with his old enemy Lancelot—to figure out what to do about it. 

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

Luckily, Excalibur lies within reach. 

But who will be fit to wield it? 

With a cast that includes Merlin, Morgan le Fay, the Lady of the Lake, and King Arthur himself—all reimagined in joyous, wickedly subversive fashion—Perilous Times is an Arthurian retelling that looks forward as much as it looks back . . . and a rollicking, deadpan-funny, surprisingly touching fantasy adventure.
Thomas D. Lee believes all sorts of things about how art and literature can be used as tools to fight for a better future, but mostly he just wants to make his readers laugh. He holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester, where he is currently studying for a PhD specializing in queer interpretations of the Arthurian mythos. He frequently considers emulating Merlin and becoming a hermit in the woods who speaks only in riddles. Perilous Times is his first novel.

Product Details ISBN: 9780593499016
ISBN-10: 0593499018
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: May 23rd, 2023
Pages: 496
Language: English
“[A] hugely entertaining yet thought-provoking cli-fi novel . . . The book [is] properly hilarious, that kind of whimsical and observational humor that Fforde and Pratchett fans are going to love. . . . Lee has brought Arthur’s legends into these modern, perilous times.”The Fantasy Hive

“A breakneck pace and a compelling urgency that pulls readers along on a wild, glorious, and epic ride . . . Highly recommended for lovers of Arthurian reinterpretations and climate-disaster thrillers.”Library Journal (starred review)

“Full of dark humor and insights into the ills of the twenty-first century, [Lee] hits close to home by asking readers to reflect on how King Arthur would save modern-day England if it were plagued by rampant racism and political infighting as well as the devastating effects of climate change. . . . A fresh, irreverent perspective on the well-known myth.”Booklist

“It’s rare to find a book so entertaining yet thematically juicy. Perilous Times has knights, mad science, corporate villainy, radicals from the far fringes of the left and right . . . and dragons ready to burn it all down. A delightful and poignant read for our times.”—Kevin Hearne, author of The Iron Druid Chronicles

“[Lee] maintains a steady faith in humanity’s ability to bring itself back from the brink; swords can do more than cleave if they become rallying symbols for folks who do not recognize their own heroism.”Publishers Weekly

“Wow, what a book. . . . Hilarious, heartwarming, and harrowing all at once, with such a fun, fresh twist on Arthurian legend . . . All great fantasy is escapist, but this one offers a hard—and quite necessary—dose of reality as well.”—Nicholas Eames, author of Kings of the Wyld

“An angry, funny novel, grounded in a vital, urgent reality and soaring with joyous fantasy—a needful delight of a book.”—Claire North, author of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

“Enormous fun, combining razor-sharp wit with savage political commentary, propulsive action, and near-endless Arthurian Easter Eggs, this is a brilliant collision of ancient mysticism with modern madness.”—Robert Jackson Bennett, USA Today bestselling author of The Founders Trilogy

“I howled my way through this book! Smart, funny, refreshing fantasy, full of vivid characters who will bring a lot of joy to a lot of people—it carves out a place for ancient legends in a brand-new world.”—Natasha Pulley, author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

“Funny, weird, wise, lovely, and full of mad shit . . . You’ve never read anything like it before.”—Stuart Turton, author of The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

“Thomas D. Lee has written a gloriously fun book, easily the best I’ve read this year. It’s relentlessly entertaining, deadpan hilarious, and full of heart. Give it five pages and you’ll be hooked.”—Scott Hawkins, author of The Library at Mount Char

“A glorious experiment of a folklorist’s ‘what-if?’ trounced by the dual-headed dragon of climate change and capitalism . . . It takes a keen writer to play with legends and come out with raw, evolving characters and Lee has done just that.”—A. J. Hackwith, author of the Hell’s Library series

“One of my very favorite books of the year—a magical, profane, and hilarious adventure . . . I raced through Perilous Times and finished it thinking about all the people I could buy it for.”—Rosie Andrews, author of The Leviathan

“A deft evisceration of the state of modern Britain and the broader Western world. Lee has a maestro’s eye for satire.”—Richard Swan, bestselling author of The Justice of Kings

“Lee’s tale of the Knights of the Round Table versus climate change grabs hold and won’t let go. Forget the once-and-future-king; this is a once-and-future classic.”—Jackson Ford, author of The Frost Files series