Title: Children of the Knight
Author: Michael J. Bowler
Cover Artist: Reese Dante
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy Link: Buy Link Children of the Knight
Genre: Contemporary YA Fantasy
Rating: 4.75 stars
A Guest Review by Sammy
Review Summary: King Arthur returns to modern day to give hope to a lost and abandoned generation.
Blurb: A Harmony Ink Press Young Adult Title
According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in Los Angeles?
This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.
With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.
Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.
Review: Powerful. This novel, Children of the Knight by Michael J. Bowler is powerful. Steeped in legend, King Arthur returns to discover a nation that has abandoned its own future. Reaching into the desperate streets of modern day Los Angeles, King Arthur sets out to save any child who will hear his call. It sounds fantastical–contrived and yet….this was one of the most impacting novels that I have ever read that focuses on the plight of the youth of today.
Page after page we meet one child after another who have been discarded to roam the streets. We are introduced to gang members who have been incarcerated from the age of 14. We meet young gay teens who have been kicked out of their homes by intolerant parents only to land on the streets where they sell themselves in order to survive. We learn of upper middle class children who have turned to destructive behaviors such as selling drugs in order to finally capture the attention of their disengaged parents. One by one these young men and women discover the power of love delivered from the once and future King, Arthur.
How Arthur came to be in the city is a mystery even to himself. One day, he simply was, complete with clothing for his knights, weapons, gold and a horse. When he discovers young Lance running from two bullies who have been sent by the drug lord known as Mr. R, Arthur knows he has met his true First Knight. The two of them set about finding others to take in and care for, to train in the way of the knight from sword play to bow and arrow, and, of course, the code of chivalry. Their numbers swell daily as more and more street kids find their way to the underground lair.
However, all good knights must have a quest and before long, Arthur reveals to his ragtag group that theirs will be to take back the city and reclaim their rights, one peaceful step at a time.
This novel was stunning. As each chapter unfolded, I found myself able to accept the idea that children would be so starved for adult influence–for love and care, and to feel worthy enough to be loved that they would follow this charismatic stranger just about anywhere. Arthur’s sincerity and passion to restore these kids to their rightful place poured out from every page. Yes, this was definitely fantasy, but the underlying message was so very real. As a nation, we are making our children disposable, writing them off as nothing worth saving and treating them like adults in a judicial system riddled with corruption and, worse, a simple lack of caring.
At its heart, Children of the Knight was a social commentary wrapped in a fictional fantasy. At its core, this novel was also a warning. A clear message that we cannot continue to write off the poor and disenfranchised, the street gangs, the youth who prostitute themselves, for they are the future of this world. There were times when this novel simply broke my heart. When the teacher, Jenny, realized that she no longer liked the very students she taught, and it was revealed that our schools are failing to educate those whose days are spent on the streets merely trying to survive, I felt real shame. You see, as a teacher in Washington D.C., I know this to be true…sadly, so very true.
And so, page after page, Michael J.Bowler weaves a fantastical story that keeps you engaged and riveted, while time after time challenging you to think of what is truly right outside your very door, homeless children who are desperate for love and stability. This novel is gritty and casts an unblinking eye on the social ruin that lives in our midst–a ruin we have created.
Children of the Knight is an incredible story. So why not five stars? Well, there was, for me, the matter of King Arthur’s speech, replete with doth’s and thee’s and thou’s. I accepted that he spoke in the language of the historical period in which he was born but on more than one occasion he lost that affect. Had there been a reference to his speech patterns changing–growing more modern, I could have overlooked this problem. However, in absence of any explanation, the resulting seesaw effect of his slipping from more modern speech patterns and then back into historical began to wrench me from the story line and became bothersome on more than one occasion.
Children of the Knight is a novel that challenges us all to look beyond ourselves and see those who are truly becoming the lost generation before it is too late. It is a marvelous story and one worth your attention.