Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Knightly romp a royally good time

  • Print

You've heard about the Knights of the Round Table, but perhaps a bit less of the Table of Less Valued Knights -- the less-illustrious position of "honour" in King Arthur's hall. It's the place where the elderly, the infirm and the disgraced find their place, dreaming of better days.

This creation -- along with the slightly more esteemed Table of Errant Companions -- is the basis of Marie Phillips' latest ribald tale, as she offers a twist on the classic story of Camelot, giving it a humorous and imaginative new ending.

The Gods Behaving Badly author continues her talent for creating an entirely believable alternate world backdropped by the stories we already know so well. Much like master fairy-tale spinner Gregory Maguire, creator of the blockbuster Wicked series, she doesn't just retell the story from a new point of view, but instead manages to build an entire parallel reality. What she supposes seems not only entirely plausible, but even certain.

The Table of Less Valued Knights opens on the night of the Pentecost feast at Camelot -- a night when knightly careers are made in the service of whatever citizen comes calling for aid. When Edwin, Prince Consort of the Kingdom of Puddock, enters, seeking a knight to find his missing bride, one of Arthur's trusted Round Table knights is given the honour.

But at the Table of Less Valued Knights, Sir Humphrey du Val seethes with envy, having been stripped of his honour and banned from quests. Later that night, Sir Humphrey finds himself in the hall when Elaine, a distressed maiden, shows up in search of her kidnapped fiancé. He jumps at the chance to take on the quest, hoping it will win back King Arthur's favour.

Meanwhile, in a kingdom far away, Martha is a queen on the run from her new husband as she goes searching for her missing brother in disguise. These threads all come together in the novel to offer a surprise ending with numerous laugh-out-loud moments along the way.

Phillips manages to deftly weave in the elements ubiquitous in fairy tales -- the requisite damsel in distress, the ever-present Lady of the Lake, the essential bumbling villain -- without making any of them feel played out. In fact, they add to the hilarity.

She also plays into the stereotypes of typical fairy tale characters, such as Elaine's role as the beautiful blond maiden and Edwin as the tall and handsome prince with the enormous white teeth.

Again, it doesn't feel trite, but rather a necessary element to a proper fairy tale.

Of course, no retelling of a classic fairy tale would be complete without a few modern traits added in. So just for good measure, Phillips manages to tie in a pregnancy out of wedlock, a gay romance and numerous tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendoes with her deft hand at humour.

A light, fun frolic, The Table of Less Valued Knights will keep you entertained throughout and is a must to toss into your beach bag during the final weeks of summer.


Nisha Tuli is a Winnipeg writer.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 16, 2014 G6


Updated on Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 8:43 AM CDT: Formatting.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Grandmother of house fire victims shares memories of four boys killed

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Are you OK with a tax hike if it means the city's roads will be better maintained?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google