by Patricia A. McKillip
Cover Artist: Woman by Nina Pak / Arcangel; wet stones by Scorpp / Shutterstock;
water by Zffoto / Shutterstock; decorative elements by il67 / Shutterstock
Review by Mel Jacob
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425271766
Date: 02 February 2016 List Price $27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Patricia McKillip offers a new take on various Arthurian tales in her new novel Kingfisher. Set in an alternative quasi-modern universe, it follows the odyssey of Pierce Olive, son of the sorceress Heloise Oliver, as he travels to the capital of Severluna. Magic has destroyed the lives of many people as Pierce learns. He sets out to find his father, a knight, in the king's court and finds love with a woman enchanted by an evil sorcerer.
His mother keeps track of Pierce and intervenes at times to save him and his companions. He stays briefly at a broken down hotel owned, to his surprise, by relatives. He observes a strange Friday night ritual during the all-you-can-eat fish fry. A knife is used in the ritual and it calls to Pierce. When he is ready to leave, he finds the knife unattended and steals it.
Carrie, a cook at the hotel restaurant, is worried about her father, a werewolf. She suspects he is trying to tell her something important, but she doesn't know what. Meanwhile, a rival restaurant offers her a job. Convinced there is something strange about the place, she accepts part-time employment there.
When Pierce arrives at the palace he serves in the kitchen, but creates so much havoc with his stolen knife, he is banished and ends up on the tourney field. There he is defeated by his brother who immediately recognizes him.
Knights drive powerful cars, ride powerful motorcycles, and use cell phones. Women are also knights. When the king, anxious to save his kingdom and divert those who would rebel, sets his knights on a quest for a symbol of ancient power, unexpected events occur and tangle Pierce, his father, and his brother both of whom he had never met in the quest.
Beautiful prose makes the story a joy to read. Readers will soon identify many of the characters from the Arthurian legends, but McKillip gives her own unique twists to the people and the events.