When a hero saves the town or rescues the princess, the accolades come from far and wide. The hero's name is recorded in the annals of history, and his namesake is revered for generations to come. But what about the other men or women behind the scenes that have risked life and limb to ensure the hero's victories? In many cases, they might be the individuals who were most responsible for saving the day but they are never honored or shown the respect they deserve.
Liam Perrin's "Sir Thomas the Hesitant and the Table of Less Valued Knights" was a pleasure to read: a fun and humorous romp through Arthurian times centering on Thomas of Fogbottom and his motley crew of ne'er-do-wells living in the shadows of the Knights of the Round. Thomas is already used to living in the shadow of his older brother William as the story begins, but a twist of fate forces Thomas to journey to Camelot to help change the fate of his brother, and perhaps his whole town. He embarks on several mini-adventures along the way, crossing paths with a wide range of characters great and small (and sometimes both!) on his quest to restore honor to his family and his town.
One of the biggest surprises of reading this novel was how well-plotted it turned out to be. Perrin did an excellent job of feigning seemingly obvious plot twists while launching into others. There were several instances of story threads that deftly wove together as the book progressed, and I was impressed at how easy it was to root for Thomas' team when the stakes were raised.
I also enjoyed how the author emphasized working out the many conundrums the group came across through non-violence as often as possible, turning to battle as a very last resort. It was a breath of fresh air to see knights and wizards use their wits before weapons.
The book is relatively short, but there was a good amount of story packed in, and quite a bit of heart as well. I wish we were able to spend a little more time getting to know the back stories of some of the characters (Marie, Gorgella, Pyralis) but it seems like Perrin left the door wide open for future entries to this series, which I will definitely be checking out.
I can easily recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Arthurian legends with a dash of magic, plenty of comedy, a healthy dose of poignancy, swiftly-moving prose, and emotional moments that sneak up on you. I've heard some compare Perrin to Terry Pratchett, and though I'm mostly unfamiliar with Pratchett's work, I feel that is quite a high compliment. Why not decide for yourself?
Review by Adam Weller
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