I apologise for not being very quick on the draw here, I intended for this review to been written up and posted by the release of Faycalibur back on the 2nd of Feb but I’m a bit rubbish. Faycalibur is the second installment of the Less Valued Knights series by Liam Perrin, and I felt very privileged to have been given access to an ARC to review as I veeeery much enjoyed the first book. (Which if you haven’t checked out yet you really should)
In short if you enjoyed Sir Thomas the Hesitant you’re going to enjoy Faycalibur simple as that, you’ll laugh, cry (maybe I guess it depends on your emotional disposition), beam with delight, force air out of your nose in merriment, and have a rip roaring good time. For those of you who would like some more detail let me delve into the crux of the story.
Faycalibur focuses a bit more on the “less valued” aspects of our stalwart companions this time around, Thomas is feeling spurned after he saved his town of Fogbottom from its previous corrupt lord, but in focusing on his own less valuedness he disregards his companions leaving them less valued in the eyes of someone who should know better. These feelings are compounded (specifically in regards to Philip) when a new member joins their party, Thomas’s new squire Gus. Despite Gus unintentionally putting a wedge between two best friends he’s a very likable character, he’s charming, brimming with knowledge about the kingdom and its knights (suspiciously so, myself and Book Wol from The Fantasy Inn even began coming up with theories [also check out her review here]), and while I saw others picture him as Martin Prince from the Simpsons I couldn’t help but see him as Greg from Over the Garden Wall (possibly because Thomas wore a kettle helmet in the first book). While the book is a bit darker in tone compared to the first Gus’s interactions with numerous characters keeps things light, that being another reason why I likened him to Greg, everyone loves him, you can’t not love him too.
As for the plot, King Arthurs armies are going to war, but the Less Valued Knights are left behind to protect Camelot, and Thomas feeling as spurned as he is after being told he can’t go search for the Holy Grail beseeches Arthur to be allowed to go search for Merlin instead. Thus Thomas becomes a Knight Errant, and things really spiral from there, the trio (Thomas, Philip, and Gus) travel to France in search of clues to Merlins whereabouts, and along with fighting a dragon we’re treated to the best bath scene I think I’ve ever read, on top of that they get caught in a web of scheming and deceit courtesy of Morgan le Fay.
In a (real) world where everything seems to be getting periodically worse and ridiculous Liam’s writing is a breath of fresh air, I tried to pace myself while reading making the most out of my time with the book, digesting it slowly but instead found myself two spoons deep in my Faycalibur porridge shoving more pages into my gob. It’s rampant with wit, whimsey, and silliness but still sends a serious message, don’t lose yourself trying to live up to the ideals of others, what makes Thomas the hero is that he isn’t a Sir Gawain or Lancelot, he is Sir Thomas and he is hesitant. There’s also a talking pigeon.
Recommended if looking for: Humor (specifically Pratchett or Phythonesc), Friendship/Comradery, Knights, Arthurian, Multiple PoV, Smidge of mystery