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Knight Life

(Modern Arthur #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  923 ratings  ·  64 reviews
The legendary debut novel from "New York Times" bestselling author Peter David has been expanded and updated into a brand new edition.
King Arthur, the once and future King, has been called forth by the wizard Merlin to lead a land in turmoil-the United States of America. But with no throne to sit upon, Arthur must run for elective office-starting with the Mayorship of
Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 24th 2003 by Ace (first published April 1st 1987)
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Average rating 3.75  · 
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 ·  923 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
As a medievalist and friend of several Arthurianists, it's hard to find a retelling of Arthur's court that isn't rather stilted or painfully saccharine. Peter David, fortunately, manages to find the middle ground, and without the harsh cynicism of some of his other works (specifically the Sir Apropos of Nothing series).
The premise is simple--Arthur (yes, that Arthur) has been resuscitated by Merlin to rejoin society and finds himself running for mayor of a late 90s New York City. The gags are
A good depiction of Arthur within the context—-chivalrous, honest, brave, and honorable. I really liked some of his answers to questions posed by the press. It was a neat twist to make Percival both immortal and a Moor. Gwen turned out to be quite a decent character, and I liked the way the story turned out. And some of the pop culture references were priceless.
Lucy Takeda
Jan 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Peter David is such fun! Perceval appears at a public event with a joust wearing a Final Fantasy T-shirt, which he claims is appropriate attire for a special occasion.
Merlin and Arthur reappear in New York City
The intro says Peter decided to rewrite this novel before it was re-released. I did not read the first edition. I completely enjoyed this edition.
Mixing Camelot legend with modern slang leads to fascinating and amusing complications. It is interesting to observe how modern New Yorkers
John Kirk
Jan 12, 2018 rated it liked it
I've read the original version of this story as well as the revised version. On the whole, I think that the new text is an improvement, and it was certainly necessary in order to set the story in "present day" (c. the year 2000) rather than the late 1980s. It also does a nice job of setting things up for the sequels. However, there are a couple of bits I miss from the original.

More generally, I've gone off the book a bit since I first read it, mainly due to real world politics. In the story,
Mike Koellhoffer
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: won
Another re-telling of the King Arthur legend, only this time it is a modern day Arthur Penn running for mayor of NYC and each of the characters from the original stories make their appearance, tho not as they once were. I had not read this book in either its 1987 or 2002 version, but I thought this 2017 version was a lot of fun. A very quick easy read, but it forced you to slow down to savor and enjoy all the little nods to the countless King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot books, movies and plays ...more
Ryan Barbieri
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was so much fun to read. Being introduced to Peter David, through his graphic novel portrayal of The Dark Tower, I was intrigued to read once of his books. Having previously never read anything related to King Arthur, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I have a new interest in anything having to do with King Arthur, Camelot, and Merlin. There was never a point while reading this, where I felt that the book was lagging, and I enjoyed the ending even more. I plan to read the other ...more
Aleson Alexander
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've always enjoyed David's writing, but this book has more of a Terry Pratchett feel. That's not a bad thing. I love Pratchett. It's not pulled off as well as Sir Terry would have, but it was still immensely enjoyable. I like the re-imagining of how one might go about beginning to recreate the best aspects of Camelot in NYC. The revisioning of the character relationships was well done. The highlight for me is making Gwen so much stronger, quick-witted, and self-sufficient than in the original ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not what I expected. I thought it started out rather silly and I expected it to get better as the plot developed, but it was too sci-fi/strange for me. I did get into it, but it felt too cheesy and really lacked depth. I guess I don't know enough about the legend of King Arthur and reading this made me wish I knew more. Would knowing more make this book less of an eye roller? I'm not sure.
Roberto Viña Sosa
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Entertaining this is version 2.1 of the book revisioned from the original 80' story ported to the present time, I liked Merlin a lot and arthur does some cool speeches but overall everyone else saving the cool secretary are idiots' by the way arthur is a sanctimonious prick.
Oct 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arthurian
An interesting take on the Arthurian legend. What would happen if Arthur came to modern day America and ran for office. Interesting to read it with what is going on politically right now. Anyway, it was a good read. Curious to see where it goes.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I could have really enjoyed this telling of King Arthur and Merlin waking up in the modern world if the writer had left out all the foul language. Why do writers believe that this kind of language is important for their writing to be enjoyed?
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was ok
Got this a loooong time ago as a Book Bub offer. Put it off and kept putting it off but finally sat down and read it. The story was ok and parts of it were funny but it did not hook me enough to keep going with the series.
Sonja Dewing
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Loved it! A great jaunt through New York with medieval characters.
Kathy Kattenburg
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Three cheers for my scifi-fantasy book club. I never would have heard of this author, much less read this wonderful book, if not for that.
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting idea, which is usually handled pretty well.
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
What a hilarious book. King Arthur back but in the 21st century. Great stuff. Well done narration by Graphic Audio!
Lynne Randolph
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this again was just as enjoyable as the first time

I wish I knew if I had read the original or the rewritten one. Guess I'll never know!! Now, can I make myself read the next two in, gasp, actual book form??
This book spins traditional Arthurian legend on it's head as it bring the very medieval King Arthur into present day New York. Arthur, having been defeated by Modred way back in the days of Camelot didn't actually die, but instead was hidden in a cave. Hundreds of years pass, and eventually he, and an ageing backwards Merlin, emerge from their respective caves and find themselves in a bustling NY city where they have the idea that Arthur should run for mayor. Arthur reclaims Excalibur (a very ...more
Jun 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
What if King Arthur came back today? And what if instead of being the king of England, he did something radically different--such as run for mayor of New York City?
Those questions serve as the premise for Peter David's first novel, Knight Life. For years, Knight Life was hard to find--its popularity among David fans is well-known. Thankfully, David has ended the long searches through used bookstores by updating his novel and releasing it again in hardcover for a new generation of fans to pick
Sean Randall
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Science. Incomprehensible. Give me magic any day."

Lacking the verbal dexterity of Sir Apropos of Nothing and the depth of a weighty universe such as Star Trek, this is nonetheless a very enjoyable story and an amazing entree for something written a quarter of a century ago by an author as his debut novel.

Looking at the jacket of one of Peter David's recent titles, the "also by" section goes on for longer than most other tables of contents. And yet the "about ye author" (yes, even the real
***Dave Hill
Oct 13, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: text
(Original review scoring runs 1-3)

Summary: [2] This is a revised and rereleased version of one of David’s earlier works, wherein Arthur finds himself resurrected and running for mayor of New York, with a child Merlin as his campaign advisor.

Entertainment: [3] Light, airy, and amusing, both on (re)takes on the Arthurian legend, as many of the folks from that saga make appearances in one way or another, and on politics (New York politics in particular). David manages a modicum of suspense,
Not as good as I remember it.
Arthur has been awoken from slumber to run for Mayor of New York, and the gangs' all here-Arthur, Percival, Merlin, Morgan, Mordred and Gwen-even though Gwen will probably bollocks it up again.
Arthur's still dynamic and honest, and despite that the citizens of New York rally around him. Could the Once and Future King actually become mayor of the Big Apple?

I read this when I was a lot younger, and I understand that Peter David took the original manuscript and tweaked
May 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book. Basically King Arthur reappears in New York in the 21st century and runs for mayor. We get to see Merlin, Mordred, Morgana, Gwen and Percival along with two more Homeless "knights" Buddy and Elvis. The author does put some funny items in this first book of a trilogy. I laughed for a few minutes when I read when Arthur was going to a press conference and his "knight" Buddy breaks out two coconuts and starts clopping them together when Arthur starts walking up ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthuriana
A reawakened King Arthur attepts to find his place in a radically changed world. What else is there for a former king to do than to strive for public office? Since the presidential election seems to big a challenge for the first attempt a democracy, he settles for mayor of New York.

Supremely confident and unwilling to play the game according to the usual rules he challenges the political establishment and gains the voters' approval by telling the truth. Shocking!

Despite his lack of experience,
Oct 04, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, modernlit
This was an entertaining read, lighthearted in general. I picked it as my choice of the month for a book with Arthurian flavor. Again, I refuse to apologize for not being into things Arthurian, and many in my reading circle have threatened to take a corner off my Man Card or to ostracize me from polite society as a result. Putting Arthur into modern day Manhattan in order to take control of City Hall, now that's the kind of thing I could get into.

It's a fast read and it's pretty straightforward,
Dec 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, arthurian
I was absolutely delighted by this book! I snickered, I outright laughed, and just generally had a good time while I read it.

The idea of King Arthur in the modern world is by no means an original one, but Peter David put a fascinating spin on it and really brought the characters to life. I loved the banter between Arthur and Merlin especially. Though they are very different characters from their counterparts in the BBC's series Merlin, one can hear the similarities in the way they speak to each
Jan 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
First: I've read the old version, the nonrevised version of this novel. So my review is really on it and not on the revised version.
I didn't like it. It was awful. Maybe it's also because I don't live in US and I am not familiar with US politics, but I didn't find this novel particularly funny.
I usually love Arthurian reincarnation novels when they are done well but here everything seemed to fast. It looks like reading a comic but without pictures and only dialogues and descriptions with no
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a book that is simply fun, if you let yourself enjoy it and not think too much. I had such a good time seeing Arthur and the gang romping their way around the Big Apple.

The Arthurian legend is fascinating in its flexibility. I can revel in all of it - from the epic poems to an absurd modern day tale. There is no one story. It is many stories with many different heroes and villains, so it is perfect for playful interpretation. Peter David has a nice way with words -- in a modern, snarky
Feb 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
After a very literary turn with my last book, this was just the book I needed to read. Very quick read, entertaining and funny. I simply had to read the description and I was hooked: King Arthur comes back after being trapped in a cave for centuries, to save the world by... running for Mayor of New York! And somehow, many of the characters from his past (Merlin, Morgan, Modred, etc) all show up to help or hinder him in his campaign. Peter David manages to combine the fantasy and magic of ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
An interesting concept, but the writing just wasn't strong enough to support it. Arthur was mostly a caricature of the noble king and I just didn't really believe he had the charisma and heroism to be a good politician. The jokes were pretty stale, and Merlin was annoying. However, I found Morgan Le Fay and Mordred to be fun twists on the legend and Percival was an interesting and smart invention. But still, the Arthur on the page just wasn't leadership material.
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aka David Peters

Peter Allen David (often abbreviated PAD) is an American writer, best known for his work in comic books and Star Trek novels. David often jokingly describes his occupation as "Writer of Stuff". David is noted for his prolific writing, characterized by its mingling of real world issues with humor and references to popular culture. He also uses metafiction frequently, usually to

Other books in the series

Modern Arthur (3 books)
  • One Knight Only (Modern Arthur, #2)
  • Fall of Knight (Modern Arthur, #3)
“I can live again! I can breathe again! I can have my hatred! I can have my revenge! And I can get the hell out of New Jersey!” 0 likes
“Yes, when I was a very young man, a long time ago... I impregnated a young woman. I could cite you chapter and verse how I was seduced into it, and how it was her doing, not mine, and it would be true to a point... but only to a point. Ultimately, one takes responsibility for one's actions. Abortion was not an option, nor was marriage. Had it been, I would have pursued either. As it was, well... To forestall any further questions... I have not seen the young woman in many, many years, and the offspring died. But I can tell you in all honesty - which is the only way I know how to deal with matters - that not a day goes by where I don't think of him, and dwell upon the many ways in which I wish things could have gone differently. Then again... what else can anyone, particularly someone who calls himself a potential leader, do, other than try to impart his own mistakes to others so that they will learn from his errors and not commit the same ones.” 0 likes
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