I stumbled across Arthur: Grail Quest 1, by J.R. Rain when I was cruising the top one-hundred Arthurian tales on Amazon (doesn't everyone?) and wondered what sort of a twist J.R. Rain would bring to the old grail-tale. The cover is quite misleading in that this book is an urban fantasy, and very little of it is truly Arthurian, although there are some references. But that is okay--the story itself it what is important, not the historical antecedents.
Hidden deep within the ancient, mist-covered hills of Glastonbury, England is a secret that could forever change the world. A secret that could help usher in a new age of enlightenment for all mankind.
Or so the legend goes....Plagued by months of persistent dreams of King Arthur, Merlin and the Holy Grail, mystery novelist James Dupree finally sets out to England to understand the meaning behind his nightly visions.
Upon arriving in Glastonbury, a locale deeply connected to stories of Camelot, Avalon and the Knights of the Round Table, James quickly discovers that not all is as it seems in this quaint little town. There's a raven-haired girl dying of a rare lung disease, knights with swords, and perhaps strangest of all is the man who emerges from the forest...a man who just might be the greatest king Britain has ever seen.
Something is happening in Glastonbury, something mysterious and powerful and not-of-this world, and somehow James Dupree is in the thick of it. Mankind is ready for the next great spiritual shift. But to do that, one man, one simple writer, must journey deep into the heart of a mystical land in search of a legendary relic.
But there are others who seek the treasure...dark forces who will stop at nothing to keep it for themselves, and end Dupree's quest for good.
At once inspiring and pulse-pounding, ARTHUR is for anyone who dares to dream—and dares to slay dragons.
Well...this is certainly not a serious, knights-in-sweaty-armor kind of a book. It is a modern urban fantasy where the past intrudes upon the present and things quickly spiral out of control. It is, however, a window into the human condition, and done with humor and a light-hearted flair that makes for an enjoyable diversion.
I remained engaged though the book, although there were some moments of hmmm.... James is a bit of a wimp to start out with, Arthur is more like Thor on steroids, and Marion is an enigma. Rain does get a bit preachy when it comes to Arthur discussing new-age philosophy and God, but hey, it's his forum and I enjoyed the book over all.
There are dragons, there are knights and there is an evil-bad-dude--Merlin. He is definitely not your mama's Merlin. There is a lot of action and the book is fairly well paced. It is definitely a set up for a trilogy, and while it doesn't really have a satisfying end I felt that overall, it was an entertaining tale.