cover image King of the Sceptred Island

King of the Sceptred Island

Michael Greatrex Coney, Author Dutton Books $18.95 (399p) ISBN 978-0-453-00667-5

The story of King Arthur, the trials of a race of alternate-world gnomes, the fate of the universe and that of an entity known as the Starquin are woven together in this sequel to Fang, the Gnome . Avalona and Morgan le Fay, immortal Dedos (or Fingers) of Starquin, are attempting to avert a catastrophe predicted for some 30,000 years in Earth's future. Avalona, with the aid of the girl Nyneve, wants to elevate mankind by introducing chivalry and related concepts through the myth (and later actuality) of Arthur and his knights. Morgan seeks to cause mankind to destroy itself, creating Mordred to that end. In another happentrack (parallel world) lives a race of gnomes genetically designed to pioneer a deserted planet. As the two worlds, and one other, come together in a single probability track, the gnomes find themselves unhappily living with the giants and caught up in the events that make up the Arthurian saga. All the familiar figures are to be found, although often in unexpected guise, and the ending remains the same. The gnomes, however, flee to space and become witnesses to the final outcome in man's far future. Coney's heroes are usually reluctant in this often earthy, sometimes absorbing tale, which in parts is heavily laden with social satire. ( Aug. )