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Sword in the Stars

authors: Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (2020)
date read: 30 June 2023
rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

This is the sequel to Once & Future. It continues the retelling of the Arthurian legend, this time set in the original story, thanks to a time jump at the end of the first book. It focuses heavily on Merlin, and his attempts to break the cycle of Arthur being reincarnated in various forms.

I liked this more than the first book, and the mechanics of Merlin’s story wrap up in a satisfyingly neat way.

Both books are trying to do interesting things with gender and sexuality in the Arthurian myth; for example, the Arthur character is gender-swapped. It didn’t work for me – the book was trite in parts, annoyingly self-aware in others. The ace character feels like a stereotype, and the future characters feel very self-congratulatory about being better than medieval England. The authors feel the same, in a bizarre final chapter where we break the fourth wall and run through the last decade or so of Arthur retellings.

I enjoyed both books and wanted to see how they played out, but they didn’t land as much as I think the queer rep is meant to.

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