Perilous Times by Thomas D. Lee

In perilous times like these, the realm doesn’t just need a hero, it needs a knight in shining armour.

Legend tells that King Arthur and his knights lie sleeping beneath the land, ready to rise to our aid if ever the land is in peril, and in Perilous Times, Thomas D. Lee’s debut and near future fantasy, the times are perilous indeed.

Sir Kay and his fellow knights have fought at Hastings, Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme, but this time things are worse than ever, with corporate greed, flooding, riots and pending climate disaster. Besides which, Kay isn’t the only ancient magic to crawl from the mud; a dragon is terrorising the land and the barrier between worlds is under threat, with unnamed horrors lurking beyond.

Eco-warrior Mariam is tired of fighting for change, frustrated at the apathy of those in charge and, frankly, a little bit frightened. What she really wants is a hero to step in and take charge, doesn’t she?

As for Lancelot, he is jaded and cynical. Whiskey, motorbikes, cigarettes, and good coffee are what makes the endless death and horror tolerable. To be honest, he’d prefer oblivion. But the powers that be have another job for him, only this time Lancelot appears to be on the wrong side of the fight.

With its roots in British legend and mythology, Perilous Times takes a smart, ironic look at modern politics, climate activism, racism and the greed and privilege of the few. In the grand satirical tradition of Python, Pratchett and Gaiman, it is brilliantly bonkers, fiercely funny, and wonderfully, furiously wise.

– Ruth, Bookshop Manager 


Here Comes The Fun by Ben Aitken


Ben Aitken wasn’t. Increasingly flat and decreasingly zen, he knew that something had to change. So he joined a lawn bowls club. About a week later, he continued his assault on the doldrums by taking a cheerleading class. Then – with an almost entirely reformed selfhood winking appealingly on the horizon- he went cold-water swimming and was back to square one.

Despite the inevitable setbacks and missteps, it was becoming clear to Aitken that the very pursuit of fun was a great route to feeling less naff. And so he made a vow to go after the f-stuff with as much gusto as he could muster (Starting with the crossword).

Over the next year, he filled his calendar with a plethora of potentially pleasurable pursuits. He did things he’d never done before but reckoned could be fun (a pilgrimage in Spain, afternoon bingo); things whose fun-factor was less obvious and more down-to-earth (volunteering in a charity shop, sitting on a bench); and things he wasn’t at all sure about but were fun according to other people (improv, wakeboarding, learning Welsh).

Although the results were mixed, the author’s year of making merry left him feeling undoubtedly … better. Which invites the question: if fun is such a reliable mood-swinger, shouldn’t we be having more of it?

Ben Aitken is the author of four books: Dear Bill Bryson, A Chip Shop in Poznan (a Times bestseller), The Gran Tour (‘Both moving and hilarious’, Spectator) and The Marmalade Diaries.

  • Ruth