Author: Hank Quense
Publisher: Strange Worlds Publishing
Trust me, you are in the presence of quite a magical tale, when it draws its inspiration from an assorted melange that emanates from history, folklore, mythology, science-fiction, fantasy, and psychology. And this is exactly what we have with award-winning author Hank Quense's Moxie's Problem, which according to the author is a Camelot story different from the legendary one, as it describes what happened in Camelot in a parallel universe. (For those of you not familiar with the term parallel universe, Wikipedia defines it as a hypothetical self-contained reality coexisting with one's own).
Replete with such familiar characters as King Arthur, Sir Lancelot's Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck, Merlin and others, Quense's tale focuses on a spoiled brat, Princess Moxie, daughter of King Smedley.
As the story unfolds in 450 C.E, we learn that Moxie is not very attractive and is doomed to end up as a spinster, until her father makes an arrangement, without her consent, with Count Gamel who agrees to marry her.
To accompany and protect Moxie while she travels to the residence of the Count for her wedding are three apprentices to the prestigious Knights of the Round Table, Gareth, Bors and Percivale. This is their first assignment since graduating from the Heroes Guild, and as we discover, they are in for quite a shock as they not only have to contend with an obnoxious whining young lady but they also have to deal with being attacked by humans, pursued by angry rocks, furious oak trees, deceit and treachery.
As for Moxie, these adventures are cathartic as she begins to realize the worthlessness of her own life. Consequently, she enters into a period of psychological and moral growth which leads to the appreciation of her escorts and their qualities. Moxie begins to comprehend that many of her own personal problems stem from the fact that she was never shown how to be self-sufficient while living inside her father's castle. In order for her to enjoy and understand life, she first has to get a life. Moreover, showing a great deal of courage, she is determined to free herself from the shackles of male chauvinism and become completely independent.
And there is something else apart from the comings and goings of Moxie and her escorts. Quense cleverly mixes into his narrative the legendary rivalry between the Saxons and King Arthur and in particular football (soccer) matches that not only include the contestants but also wizards that will have quite an influence on the outcome of these contests.
In the end, Quense's voice is a clever fusing of wit, fun, opposing values, warring emotions, troubling questions, philosophical musings and a good story that all comes together in this very enjoyable book leaving readers with a taste for more and a curiosity as to what destinies await the characters in the sequel which we are informed will be tentatively entitled Moxie's Decision.
Hank Quense has published 14 books and 50 short stories along with a few dozen articles. You will often find him lecturing on fiction writing and publishing. He also has a series of a guides covering the basics of fiction and publishing.