We all know their stories: Merlin, his prince Arthur and their eternal enemy, Mordred. Or maybe we don’t. Arthur Rex reimages their legends as a story that leaps across time, over continents and deep into outer space for an ultimate confrontation which will decide the fate, for good or evil, of all humankind.
The novel begins as aging Merlin, all too human, sneaks away from his the iron-age hilltop fort of Camelot in search of an enchanted cathedral where his youth can be restored. But the place he seeks has been created as deadly trap by his fellow magus and blood enemy, Mordred, who knows perfectly well of Merlin’s vanity. Merlin, imprisoned beneath the cathedral, eventually manages to escape. But while Merlin is captured Mordred’s army destroys Camelot and kills Arthur. Merlin, with the help of two bumbling survivors, concocts his own trap, destroys Mordred’s army and captures Mordred. But what to do with a creature of implacable evil? Merlin is determined to end the cycle of their endless war. He immobilizes Mordred with a special curse and, in the greatest secrecy, sails alone to the fifth century AD American continent. Merlin entombs Mordred deep in the wilderness and remains on there, confident that he spared the future world from an unrelenting evil.
A thousand years pass. The wilderness continent becomes the crowded, shiny 21st century United States. One spring day an industrial accident releases Mordred from his tomb. His powers return in the open air. Mordred immediately enlist an extraterrestrial army and creates chaos in the modern landscape. Merlin, long retired, marshals his forces for a new war. He discovers his 21st century American Arthur. Together they fight an ancient enemy. But the new Arthur is untrained. Mordred and his army escape to their next goal, a place even more important than the earth, an Eden-like planet at the center of the Milky Way. The planet is guarded by bumbling warriors who, for the first time in many generations, must fight to protect their home and the secrets concealed in its mountains. There Merlin and Arthur prepare to fight. What Arthur discovers in the high country violently changes everything about their ultimate battle. Their final conflict takes place on a battlefield so distant that Arthur is sure that he will never return from it. But he fights anyway. His life and Merlin’s are at stake, along with the lives of all people on earth.
Arthur Rex draws on many different sources, including, among others, Beowulf, world creation myths, Mallory, Tolkien, H.G. Wells, and even Pratchett to remake an ancient lay for a 21st century audience.