Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Michael J. Bowler - Children of the Knight - Review and Giveaway

About the Book

According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in modern-day Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight––where even gay boys and gangsters work side by side. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and his children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

The Knight Cycle begins . . .

My Review

I appreciate an author who has the courage to take a classic and make it his own. Michael J. Bowler tackles the Arthurian legend of old and gives it an American, inner city twist in CHILDREN OF THE KNIGHT. This time, the king doesn't reside in a castle, he lives in a sewer. His knights aren't men of nobility, they're destitute teens. His goal isn't to rule over a vast dominion, it's more like the ultimate urban renewal project. His dialogue is still laced with words like henceforth and perchance and his wardrobe still consists of suits of armor and flowing tunics, but he's a different man this time around. He knows how jealousy and in-fighting allowed his fabled Camelot to fall, and he's determined not to repeat the same mistake again.

However, he never factored homosexuality into the equation. He rescues Lance, a fourteen-year-old boy from the hands of two drug-dealing thugs, making him his First Knight. What he doesn't expect is the boy's confusion when it comes to accepting love and affection. He doesn't like to be touched. He's afraid to open up. Arthur senses that Lance has a good heart, but it's yet untested. The boy is yearning for attention, but Arthur only gives it to him in small doses once he starts recruiting other teenagers to his cause. He keeps Lance at arm's length, even though he wants to draw him close.

Arthur, himself, is not gay, but Lance isn't sure what he is. He views Arthur as more of father figure, but he's terrified to tell him that he loves him. He holds back, afraid that Arthur will reject him for being weak and unworthy. Based on the homophobic nature of the macho street culture he grew up in, he fears Arthur will think less of him because he's attracted to other boys. It hurts Lance deeply to think that he's letting Arthur down. He mistakenly feels that being himself just isn't good enough.

Bowler doesn't shy away from these gender confusion issues, instead he addresses them head-on. There has always been a homoerotic undercurrent to the King Arthur tale by uniting a group of men under one banner. It has been discussed by numerous literary critics throughout the years, but Bowler gives it a fresh perspective so that the Arthur-Lance dynamic has more of a father-son feel. It's through Bowler's depiction of the other knights of the Round Table that Lance experiments with his burgeoning sexuality, not in a graphic way, but in a tender, searching quest for acceptance and belonging.

This retelling broaches many complex social issues and breathes new life into one of the greatest stories of all time. Bowler succeeds in making King Arthur relevant for a whole new generation, and provides gay teens with a number of characters they can relate to and admire. He doesn't shy away from what's uncomfortable or confusing, instead he seamlessly weaves those discordant feelings into the tapestry of a much-beloved story.


Children of the Knight can be purchased at:

Prices/Formats: $6.99 ebook, $17.99 paperback
Pages: 344
ISBN: 9781623806552
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Release: June 20, 2013
Click to add to your Goodreads list.

About the Author

Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of three novels - A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time, and Children of the Knight - who grew up in San Rafael, California.

He majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University and earned a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master's in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.

He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.

He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.

He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to seven different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles. He is a passionate advocate for the fair treatment of children and teens in California, something that is sorely lacking in this state. He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed he and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.

He has already completed the two continuations of Children of the Knight that complete the trilogy - Running Through A Dark Place & And The Children Shall Lead. Both will likely be released in 2014.

Links to connect with Michael:
Web Site
Blog Tour Site

About the Giveaway

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