Sleepless Knights by Mark H. Williams

mark williams sleepless knightsWhat kept King Arthur up at night?

I bet people have been wondering about this all these centuries. After all, defining a nation, revolutionizing social culture, conquering the world, defending against cuckoldry, protecting your kingdom against your evil witch sister, and defeating usurpers on the field of battle can take a lot out of a guy.

It’s tough being a messiah, especially when you are so very, very flawed–as King Arthur clearly is.

Then there is the whole grail quest: a lifelong obsession at best, the key to madness at worst. And, given the nature of the grail, it is bound to lead to disappointment.

Did these things keep Arthur awake during the moonlit hours? Thanks to British author Mark H. Williams, now we know.

As it turns out, all we had to do was ask Arthur’s butler. The entire story is captured in the 2013 romp, Sleepless Knights.

The 20th century is filled with retellings of the Arthur tales by writers like C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, Guy Gavriel Kay, Roger Lancelyn Green, Roger Zelazny, and T.H. White. We have also seen a number of farces, most notably in film (like Monty Python). What Williams has done is provide for us a hilarious farce filled with antics and adventures, that still somehow treats the material for the rich and varied source that it is.

Monty Python King ArthurDid I also mention that it is a time travel piece?

This risky narrative is achieved by a sophisticated time-structured pattern to the story outline, moving us in and out of the historical Camelot as it exists in several different time lines. The changes in narrative voice are not always smooth, simply because they are rooted in a single character. But that single character’s point of view serves to solidify what is a truly mercurial plot.

I met Mark Williams when, in line for dinner at Mythcon, my careless questioning caused him to admit that his book was Shortlisted for the 2014 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature. I ordered the book for myself and it sat in the teetering pile of books on my bedside table. I finally made it a Christmastide read, and have not regretted it. A bit on the long side for a farce, but a superb book for its entertainment value and unusual treatment of Arthuriana.

Mythopoeic AwardsI am actually a little jealous. I wish I had written this book, or one like it. But that time will come, perhaps.

Meanwhile, check out Sleepless Knights. It won’t keep you up in the worried ways that caused Arthur to roam the halls of his mind (and his castle), but it might keep you up turning the pages to see what happens next.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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7 Responses to Sleepless Knights by Mark H. Williams

  1. L.A. Smith says:

    Love me some King Arthur. This looks intriguing….another one for the oh so lonnnnggg “to read” pile….


  2. A wonderfully comic work. It gave me much pleasure. I’m glad you got around to reading it!

    Liked by 1 person

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