X--Calibre: The Absurd Legend of Cantiger the Wizard

Mark Parker, Author Running Press Book Publishers $11.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0802-4
Parker has chosen the too-well-trodden ground of Arthurian legend for his first original novel (he's published numerous TV novelizations). Incompetent wizard Cantiger is caught stealing spells from a sorceress named (for no apparent reason) Garnish. While escaping, he confuses his spells and gives Garnish a serpent head, earning her eternal enmity. In the meantime, Garnish's school friend and fellow sorceress Princess Marina Lamaya of Logris schemes to kill her father and take his throne. Unfortunately, a great stone sarsen appears on the lawn to skew her plans; carved into its surface are the fateful words, ""Whosoever removeth this stone from this patch of grass is rightwise king or queen od--sod it--of--Logris."" Fortunately, Cantiger uncovers the sword ""X-Calibre"" from a soggy marsh and gives it to his conveniently met traveling companion, Orson, the youthful foster son of a minor lord. Orson is able to move the stone, but cannot wed Queen Marina when his parentage is revealed, for he is her brother. For all Parker's attempts to mimic the insane irony of Monty Python's Holy Grail or the wry tone (and pithy footnotes) of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, his book fails as both humor and fantasy. The characters never rise above caricature, the plot doesn't make much sense and the writing is bland. Sales may get some boost, especially in the college market, from comparison to the above-mentioned authors, and by appealing to fans of Arthurian legends and the absurd, but don't expect much. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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