This is the second novel I have read by Phillips, and my overall thought of her work is I wish she had more.
It’s rare to find humour in a novel because of how subjective it is; what an author finds funny might not be what you find funny. It’s also hard to convey humour in words because most of the time it’s a visual or oral thing. Sure, you can send a text or write a note that includes a joke, but there’s a 50% chance the reader won’t laugh because it’s more about how it’s told than the contents, or the joke needs a visual component to make it humorous. Marie Phillips has a rare talent of making words funny, even though there’s no one to tell the joke or elaborate on the scene. She knows how to provide the reader with the correct description and connection to the story that anyone can read it in whatever tone or enthusiasm, and still find it funny. Both of her novels had me actually laughing out loud.
Before I continue, I just want to encourage all Book Babies to read my blog review of Marie’s other novel, Gods Behaving Badly. Hopefully both of these reviews will encourage you to give her a chance. I promise you won’t regret it! and who knows, maybe more readers will inspire her to write a third story?! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE MARIE! I need another good laugh!!!
On to my review of The Table of Less Valued Knights:
This story reminded me of something Monty Python would write, especially if it were a deleted scene from Holy Grail since it is a comic take on the world of King Arthur. The idea of having a table in Arthur’s court where pathetic or disgraced Knights are demoted to instead of just having the infamous round table, along with the notion of completing a quest to regain favour provides us with the perfect build for an adventure. Sir Humphrey’s accepted quest is nothing short of ridiculous, proving just how desperate he is. Now here comes a bunch of the Python elements :
- A squire who is technically a giant, but he’s a short giant.
- Our small giant rides and elephant.
- A damsel who is looking for her betrothed before the world discovers she is pregnant.
- A transgendered princess in disguise, magically turned into a boy to search for her lost brother.
- A unicorn that can detect virgins.
- A sword that has human qualities
- A lady of the lake who complains about being a stand in, for she is typically the lady of the well
- The recent husband of our princess, who simply wants to kill everyone
- A black knight!
And plenty of other things, but I don’t want to give too much away. That would spoil the fun! It’s like the only thing this story is missing is the Knights that say Ni, and I guess a killer bunny! Haha
The transgendered princess is certainly one of my favourite characters. Her mental and physical struggle is both comical and mind boggling as you hope her royal and gender identity is kept secret despite all of the obstacles thrown in her path. When you take a step back and really looks at her story arc, you can’t help but consider her to be a knight in her own respect; she deserves a place at at Arthur’s round table!
Sir Humphrey is also a brilliant character, mainly because he seems to be a hodgepodge of each knight from Holy Grail; Arthur, Lancelot, Galahad, Robin, and so on. There situations he finds himself make you wonder how any one person can have such horrible luck, but you’re still happy about it because it’s beyond entertaining.
By the end of the story, you’ll be thinking wtf (please excuse the crude nature of this, but it’s really the best way I can describe it), and then you’ll laugh at how perfect it all is! Everything is explained and tied up in a creative and fun way. Good prevails and bad loses, as one would expect from a King Arthur-esque story. The reader still gets to see bravery and adventure, but these characters tackle things on a more relatable scale; they are heroes, but still flawed and human (when you typically think of Arthur’s quests with his Knights in all the old legends, they almost seem inhuman in their abilities to prevail every time. Monty Python did an excellent job at making these iconic characters flawed, and now Marie Phillips has chosen to do the same thing with her own). Overall, it makes it all more likable and engaging.
I don’t want to give away anything more. You’ll just have to read the book for yourselves to see what I mean. Take in a good laugh, Book Babies! We all deserve it!!!