Saturday, July 12, 2014

Strange Bedfellows, by Rusty Rhoad

I read Strange Bedfellows some time ago, and for whatever reason did not publish a review of it.  The following review is also posted on the Amazon page linked above.  I did in fact read it when it was free.
Walter is a numbers guy, an accountant who numbs himself to the dreary misery of his life with attention to meaningless detail at work and random internet surfing at home. Watching him leverage a break in his life will take you from pity to envy to admiration, with a side of Morgan Le Fay. You can practically hear the sultry contralto as you read Le Fay's dialog. It's a great romp that leaves you with a smile. And pirates. There are definitely pirates.

Rhoad has a real sense for what heroism means when the protagonist doesn't wear tights and a cape, literally or figuratively. Look for more from him for characters you'd be lucky to have as friends in the world we actually live in.

The Life and Adventures of Sir Kay, by Rusty Rhoad

I have recently caught up with an author friend's new novel, The Life and Adventures of Sir Kay (draft serialized here).  Rusty Rhoad writes "romantic Arthurian fiction" with an interesting twist--the stories are told from a man's point of view.  The stories center on men on paths of self-discovery, overcoming challenges and winning women's hearts along the way.  They are eminently likeable fellows, the kind of men a guy would like to have as a friend, and any gal would want to marry.

Sir Kay definitely fits into this mold.  Rhoad's other published novels, Strange Bedfellows and Return from Avalon, are set in the present day, with Arthurian influences coming from the past.  This novel is set in the time of King Arthur, and aims to give some attention to a character one can tell Rhoad believes has been shortchanged.

Sir Kay, like Walter and Arnie Penders, is a nerdy numbers guy.  Unlike the other two, he's seen plenty of combat and is really a pretty competent fighter and soldier--unless you are comparing him to other Knights of the Round Table.  In that company he doesn't measure up as a warrior, but has earned the respect of Arthur and others as an excellent seneschal--manager of the King's castle and attendant logistics.  Now that Merlin is gone, he is "the only person in the kingdom who can do long division".

But he yearns for adventure and true love, so he takes on a squire (the redoubtable Oswald--you'll like him, everyone does) and asks his king for knightly quests.  Along the way he is challenged with a Grail quest, and meets the lovely Elaine, sister to Morgan le Fay and Morgause.

All of Rhoad's work is helped by a familiarity with Arthurian literature, but this one is the most directly dependent on that history.  If you spend a lot of literary time in Camelot, you won't want to miss this one.  Four stars in that genre.