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grailblazersI've just finished Grailblazers, by Tom Holt, and found it, on the one hand, very funny and witty, with a storyline that’s pure madness; and, on the other hand, overloaded with ideas, weak on plot, and not all that well executed. A mixed bag, then, and mainly for the fans.

Prince Boamund of Northgales (Snotty to his friends) is dopey, idealistic, and upright. He has been trained from boyhood to be even more so, making him the Holy Fool – biddable, virtuous, stupid, extremely pompous, the sort of person who would never be afflicted by greed, megalomania or anything like that. The perfect Grail Knight. Brave. Honest. Stupid.

He’s also just been asleep for 1500 years under a mountain, and has been awakened for a special quest. “What you’ve got to do”, said the Hermit, “is go to Ventcaster-on-Ouse and discover the Holy Grail”
Questing for the Holy Grail has come down in the world since the heady days of Arthur. The remaining 5 Knights from the order of the Chevaliers de Sangrail are now delivering Pizza, clean Windows, and sell insurance, whilst ‘passively’ looking for the Grail (i.e. they might stumble over it. If they worked out how it actually looks, so they could recognize it).

This is a book that’s at the same time screamingly funny, and exceedingly tedious and annoying. Whilst it is full of great one-liners, puns, and slapstick scenes that have you laugh out loud it is also full of contrived jokes, forced puns, and slapstick scenes that go on and on and on for way to long, and make you want to throw the book out of the nearest train window, if you’d happen to be reading it on a train.
To be fair I have to say that, whilst the first half feels disjointed and crammed full of randomly selected material thrown at the story to see what would stick, the second half, working with what stuck, is actually much better, and displays at least in parts drive, plot, and character development. Too bad that the haphazard ending then buggers this up again.

Funny? Yes, in parts. Engrossing and essential reading? Only in small parts. Recommended? For fans only, I feel. But they will lap it up – if mad stories made up of incongruous combinations of topics are your thing then this is straight down your street.

More Tom Holt

Title: Grailblazers
Author: Tom Holt
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Orbit
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 19 May 1994
Review Date: 3 December 2007
ISBN: 1857231910
Price: 1p from Amazon
Book URL:
Pages: 357
Format: Paperback
Topic: Fantasy
Topic: Humour


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