Sunday, February 13, 2011

"A Hard Day's Knight" by Simon R. Green

Welcome to the Nightside. For those foolish enough to seek it out, it's a literal tourist trap, populated by beings, human and otherwise, who have never seen the sun rise. A place where your dreams can come true - as long as your nightmares don't get you first. My name is John Taylor. I'm a PI with a special talent for finding lost things. Which was more than enough for me - until recently, when fate offered me a job that I couldn't refuse. So now I'm the new Voice of the Authorities, who run the Nightside. And I'm also the reluctant owner of a very special - and dangerous - weapon: Excalibur, the legendary sword (which isn't what you think it is, and never was). Excalibur chose me, and no-one knows why. To find out, I'll have to consult the last defenders of Camelot, a group of knights who dwell in a place that some find more frightening than the Nightside. London Proper. It's been years since I've been back - and there are good reasons for that...

Just like Taylor says, things aren't what they seem to be. For example, this 12th installment of his popular Nightside series. I thought the majority of the action was going to take place in "London Proper", which would have made it a very interesting read indeed; the infamous John Taylor would have had to play it cool so as not to draw attention to himself in the world of us mere mortals. He does go to London, but only for a very brief chapter or so, then it's right back into the Nightside.

Most of the usual gang is here, including John's girlfriend, Suzie Shooter, aka "Oh Christ It's Her, Run". Alex, barkeep and owner of Strangefellows, is also on the scene, as is Julien Advent and a few others. It's like visiting old friends, and of course, we meet new ones, namely the London Knights (who aren't really new as they've appeared before, but we learn a lot more about them this time). Then there's the man himself, King Arthur; that was truly a treat for me, being a huge fan of all things Arthurian back in the day. There are nasty elves, too, and of course, lots of fighting.

I thought this book was much like the others in Green's series: a good, solid read. The Nightside books are short and cover familiar ground each time, with John getting himself into trouble and relying on his friends to help him save the day. And while I like the relationship he has with Suzie, the end of this book gives one quite the shock, taking that pairing into territory I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to enter. Guess I'll just have to wait for the next book and see what happens. The Nightside is a fun place to visit, and I'm glad that Green writes about it. But I'm with Taylor - I don't think mere mortals such as I were meant to stay.

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