cover image Perilous Times

Perilous Times

Thomas D. Lee. Ballantine, $28.99 (496p) ISBN 978-0-593-49901-6

Debut novelist Lee takes a side-eyed look at both chivalric legends and contemporary eco-warriors in this hopeful eco-fantasy that asks whether Excalibur might be able to slay climate change. After blowing up a fracking facility and accidentally unleashing a dragon, young activist Mariam escapes the chaos with the aid of a recently resurrected Sir Kay, knight of the Round Table and foster brother of King Arthur. Given repeated lives by Merlin, Kay is used to being revived for military missions but he’s less prepared to handle the more abstract foe that is the collapse of Britain’s ecology. He knows, however, that the resurrected Arthur’s plan to “make Britain great again” is not the right tactic. Instead, Excalibur needs a new and better wielder. Lee does not skimp on the bleakness of the environmental crisis nor on naming its villains, but he 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. Readers with a love of Arthurian romance and ecological optimism will appreciate Mariam and Kay’s struggles and triumphs. Agent: Sam Morgan, Lotts Agency. (May)