While I read some books that can be classified as sci-fi, fantasy or speculative fiction, it’s not a genre I read as much as others – and I’m sometimes put off by the complex and unrelatable world-building that can be a feature of this type of read. But I was hooked from the opening pages of Chevalier & Gawayn in a novel that so quickly immerses you into not one but two extraordinary worlds with surprising ease.
The central character Chevalier lives in the future, seemingly a mild-mannered tax inspector just getting on with his rather mundane day-to-day life. He lives in a world where disease has run rampant, so much so that there are no longer any live animals or birdlife. To view any animals, you must visit the collection of taxidermy preserved creatures on display at the Palace of Animals. The future is a world of regulations, living behind city walls or underground, only venturing out in protective clothing. It’s a world where human interaction is seldom intimate, and people escape into virtual worlds for entertainment. But Chevalier is not the mild-mannered person he pretends to be and is intent on breaking some rules imposed on their society. And Chevalier is also one to try the latest virtual reality headset CIRCE…
…which leads us to a virtual world where Chevalier becomes Gawayn, a principled hero in a King Arthurian world, where he rides a large white horse, and he fights and bleeds and loves and lives in a way that feels more real and vibrant than the ‘real’ world of being a tax-inspector.
It’s not long before the worlds of Chevalier and Gawayn merge in unexpected ways, and Chevalier/Gawayn is just the hero needed for a new way of thinking and a bold new plan.
Chevalier & Gawayn combines history, mythology and an intriguing dystopian world into an adventure-packed read. Phillip Mann seamlessly draws you into both the futuristic and Arthurian worlds, and it reads like a thriller as you follow the main protagonist’s journey in both realms. Chevalier & Gawayn is a masterful novel with deep and thought-provoking themes, memorable characters and a multi-layered plot while still being a page-turning, exciting read. Outstanding! This is a novel that will have broad appeal to many readers.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Quentin Wilson Publishing