Prophecies. A young knight learns that they’re just not to be trusted in this fourth of the light-hearted Arthurian Knights’ Tales.
A seeress’ ominous prediction that he would grow up to be known as the noblest knight in England but bring misfortune to all his companions and deliver the Dubious…er, Dolorous Stroke weighs heavily on Sir Balin of the Two Swords—but, in the end, proves less accurate than his own mother’s prediction that he’d grow up to marry a nice northern girl. This last happens after much knightly questing, a certain amount of slaughter, plenty of side banter and fateful meetings with both Balin’s skeptical brother Sir “Oh, put a cork in it!” Balan and levelheaded Lady Annalise, the Questing Lady. Said banter shows off to excellent advantage Morris’ability to put a 21st-century spin on the ancient legends: “ ‘I bring this enchanted sword, seeking the one knight who is able to draw it from its sheath!’ ‘Stuck, is it?’ asked Sir Kay. ‘I used to have a sword that would do that,’ said another knight. ‘Have you tried jiggling the hilt?’ ” Renier liberally salts the short chapters with scenes of armored knights looking startled or vigorously clobbering one another.
Shame on you, Gerald Morris, for treating the Matter of Britain with insufficient solemnity. (Snicker.) (Fantasy. 9-11)