I’m glad I didn’t give up on Holt. Although this isn’t his best (I’d probably pick Goatsong for that distinction, with Expecting Someone Taller close by), it’s a far cry better than the mixed-up hodge-podge that marked Here Comes the Sun and Overtime. Holt’s back to formula here, and maybe that’s why it works; in this one, a knight from the Arthurian Age is awakened to take charge of the order of the Knights of the Holy Grail. First, he’s got to get the rest of the order interested in the quest again, because they have gotten tired of it and become pizza delivery drivers and would-be West End actors.
Holt also plays with largely literary characters here a la Kim Newman or Howard Waldrop. His revisionist history of the jolly old man in the red suit is a special lark, as is his take on Lyonnesse. Well-read fantasy readers (and by that I mean the classics, not the modern stuff) will probably get a lot more out of Holt’s allusion play in this regard than I did. In fact, I felt like I was rereading John Myers Myers’ Silverlock at times because of that distressing feeling that I should know this character, and yet couldn’t place it.
Unfortunately, Holt’s still jumping all over the place in telling the story. Multiple points of view and quick cuts, as I described for his last two books, take a toll on the reader here as well. As I said before, pyrotechnics are fine when one is sure that they aren’t standing in the middle of the firing field. Er, that is to say, it takes a stable base to get away with double-back somersaults.
[Finished 13 August 1994]