A Hard Day's Knight (Nightside)
by Simon R. Green
Cover Artist: Jonathan Barkat
Review by Drew Bittner
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0441019706
Date: 04 January 2011 List Price $25.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
John Taylor is back, which means all hell is about to break loose in the Nightside (pretty much literally). The dashing--and somewhat arrogant--former private eye thought things might quiet down after he navigated some elvish politics and refused an unwelcome job offer. He should have known better.
This is the Nightside, after all. And now he's got the job he never wanted...and Excalibur's turned up in the mail.
Thus begins A Hard Day's Knight, the eleventh adventure of John Taylor, PI. Excalibur has fallen into Taylor's lap and he must figure out why, even as diverse and powerful factions converge to claim it. All he knows is: 1) he isn't worthy and 2) figuring this out will mean returning to London Proper (aka, the London in our real world).
Why? Because London Proper is the home of the London Knights, the Last Defenders of Camelot, who know more about Excalibur than the rest of the world put together. Unfortunately, this is a move that his enemies are able to predict.
After learning the hard way that one should never go home again, Taylor discovers that where goes Excalibur, there goes destiny. It seems that a civil war is brewing and Taylor is the means by which it can be averted. That's all well and good, except that the London Knights have a traitor in their midst--one who's made a deal with some truly horrific powers.
During his quest (such as it is), Taylor learns what Excalibur really is, has some mind-blowing encounters with incredibly powerful individuals, and susses out one of the great mysteries of English folklore. All in a day's work.
But John Taylor and his love Shotgun Suzie will have to go farther than that--and cross into a place that gives "enemy territory" a whole new meaning-- if they want to solve this case and, by the way, prevent the end of the world.
Simon R. Green delivers another roller-coaster adventure in Knight, with plenty of his trademark shout-outs to his other series--including a nice reference to a major set-piece in From Hell With Love. To me, this is one of the delights of being a long-time fan of Green's work--the multitude of Easter eggs he works in for the discerning reader.
If anything, Taylor has grown more comfortable as a power in the Nightside, lamenting the fact that the citizens of London Proper don't scurry out of his way or run screaming when he scowls. It's an amusing bit, the awareness of his own ego and conceit, which Green uses in just the right amount. He discovers a few new ramifications of his powers, but ultimately reaffirms who and what he is: a solver of mysteries, not a warrior and not a king.
The new additions to the Nightside saga are terrific as well, with a return of elvish royalty (Queen Mab, King Oberon and Queen Titania), not to mention some figures of legend and myth taking the stage. (No spoilers, though, sorry.) The London Knights, in particular, are a great new part of Green's larger multiverse and deserve their own series.
The enemies are also great, with Jerusalem Stark and his mad obsession foremost. His allies (again, no names here) are heinous and thoroughly horrible, yet drawn with Green's customary wink of the eye. He gets to have some real fun with them, especially in Strangefellows (Taylor's favorite bar), and show how bad some powerhouse villains can be.
Eleven books in is NOT the time to jump on board, but as always, I recommend going back and finding the early books to start. This book is a terrific chapter in the ongoing saga of John Taylor, with lots of eye-opening surprises, all of which end in a remarkable invitation.