Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Knyght Ther Was

A Knyght Ther Was (also available as an audiobook) is a novella by Robert F. Young. I was already familiar with Young from his novel Eridahn, which I liked and which has the distinction of being one of the few sci-fi novels my mother considers worthwhile.

Like Eridahn, A Knyght Ther Was is a time-travel story with all the twists and turns I at least look for in that sub-genre. After all, why bother travelling through time if you can't mess with your past self on occasion?

Anyway... A Knyght Ther Was features a time thief named Tom Mallory who is going to use another Malory's work to find a suitable point in time to rip off the Holy Grail. He's going to impersonate Sir Galahad, the last guy to deal with the Grail before it was taken up to Heaven--it seems like a reasonable point to take it forward in time instead.

Then the unforeseen problems arise.

The oddity is, I did not think I would like the story. I thought Young would get cute with the Grail, and the tone is initially quite cynical. There were also several plot wrinkles I thought I could predict, and I was right about some of them. I saw the Lancelot twist coming immediately, for example. Others were both surprising and satisfying, especially Mallory's unexpected encounter just after his moment of triumph: it works out exactly as it should. It was at that moment that I knew I would consider the story a classic if he didn't mess it up.

And he didn't! There was a remaining matter he could have completely blown--I thought he would, really; it's another place where he surprised me, because I was sure I knew what he was up to: the mystery of Rowena.

The major surprise was that despite the cynical opening, this takes place in an essentially Christian universe. The two really honest and admirable characters are Christians, and they talk about God in a way that's generally right. And that's all the more peculiar because so far as I know, Young wasn't a Christian himself. (That's not to say I would be surprised if he was.) And I have to admit that this is more Christian than some supposedly "Christian" fiction I've encountered.

It's a short piece, just over two hours as an audiobook, and I'm sure you'll keep coming back to it. Let's have that info again:

A Knyght Ther Was

1 comment:

cathikin said...

Thank for the introduction to this book. I'll definitely have to look it up.

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