Aboard the Alecto, prolific romance author Valentine Beals ruminates on the ship's most seemingly incongruous couple: a graceful, ethereal, virginal dancer named Barberina Rookwood and her lover, Saul Henchman, a crippled, emasculated war hero and photographer. Fancifully, Beals imagines Henchman to be the reembodiment of one of the most mysterious Arthurian legends, the Fisher King--the maimed and impotent ruler of a barren country of whom Perceval failed to ask the right questions. A myth with many permutations--and a blurred borderland between them--the Fisher King legend dovetails the various explanations Powell offers from his competing narrators as to why a talented young dancer would forsake her art to care for a feeble older man. Ostensibly a novel about gossip on a cruise ship, The Fisher King is much more: a highly stylized narrative infused with Greek mythology, legend, and satire.… (more)
On the far side of the waters, low rounded hills, soft and mysterious, concealed in luminous haze the frontiers of Thule: the edge of the known world; man's permitted limits; a green-barriered check-point, beyond which the fearful cataract of torrential seas cascaded down into Chaos.