Cover Image: Sword in the Stars

Sword in the Stars

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Member Reviews

Did not finish because of time commitments, however, did purchase for my collection as I already have the first one.
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I waited approximately one year for this book, and I devoured it in under twenty-four hours. What a ride! Sword in the Stars picks up where Once & Future left off, with our heroes stuck in the actual Camelot with the fate of the future hanging in the balance. They must steal Arthur’s Holy Grail in order to save their own timeline, without skewing the original time line too much, of course, which proves to be even harder than they imagined.

This book is like when you go home at Christmastime and go out for drinks with your very best friends from growing up. You drink, you laugh, sometimes you cry, and you catch up with these people you value so much. I was so happy to return to these characters and their adventures. This story is everything I love about reading. Queer characters whose sexuality and gender are valued but definitely not the most important part of the story, those among whom chosen family means more than life itself. It’s a GREAT choice to kick off Pride in 2020, and an excellent reminder that even when the world is going to hell, there are those who will go through it with you and for you.

I still need to make a tshirt with everyone’s name, Helvetica style. There are so many twists and turns in this book, and I am astounded at Capetta and McCarthy’s ability to weave such a complex tale together to include so many elements of classic lore into an utterly original story for our time. When I pitch this story to friends, I bill it as gender bent King Arthur in space with teenage Merlin, and that’s all they need to know to seek this book out.

Do yourself a favor if COVID and racism and homophobia and all the other garbage of this year has you down, and pick this one up. Also, if you haven’t read the first one, definitely start there or you might be a little lost here. Thank you to both authors for this lovely story I love so much, and for their Instagram accounts that bring me so much joy.
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This book was fabulous!  I love stories about King Arthur and this one was fabulous. This teen packed story was action-packed and fun for everyone!! The genderqueer romance was perfect and everything set in space was oh yes please!! It was fun and just what I needed!
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There is alot here that's good, particularly with regard to cycles and the passage of time, but the number of characters who are queer/trans/questioning made for some wildly difficult to follow pronoun use. I think the ideas these authors have are a bit ahead of the language we have to describe them.
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I wanted so badly to enjoy this book despite its flaws, the way I did with Once and Future. Unfortunately, it was a tough sell.
Book 1 tended to be a little preachy about queer politics, but you see so little positive representation that I could look past it. Sword in the Stars began with so much of this that I wanted to skip through the first quarter of the book- positive representation can be done without destroying narrative...the choir’s already heard it and it is so heavy-handed that I can only imagine it driving away those who need to hear the message most. 

That said, the adaptation of Arthurian legend was absolutely amazing. When McCarthy and Capetta get into it, it’s really fantastic. Ari and Gwen are even more heroic than ever, the complex time travel isn’t muddy, and there are so many heartwarming and heart-wrenching surprises. . 

Overall, you can probably let O&F be your only foray into the duology...but keep an eye on these writers.
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I had to DNF at about 35%. I loved the first book so much, but I couldn’t take the way the authors were basically trying to cram things down our throat. While I get what they were trying to do and I think that it very important, I didn’t like how they did. I felt like they think their readers are all ignorant, horrible human beings. Will not read anything else from either of them.
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This was a great continuation of the first book! I really hope that we get more in this world. The characters are amazing, and I love the creativity of this story.
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A fantastic second installment to Once and Future. In this one, they head back in an effort to retrieve the grail. So many familiar characters grace the stage as new school meets old school in a delightful Arthurian Retelling. The welcome appearance of a dragon makes it extra awesome. See what else we had to say on our latest Teen Title Talk: https://teentitletalk.podbean.com/e/teen-title-talk-internment-and-the-sword-in-the-stars/
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Book two. This series shines! The Arthur/Lancelot twist got me in the end, but I saw the Merlin heritage from the end of the first book. The story progresses in an odd time for ant with the time travel and Merlin aging backwards, but it works and makes the story even better for it.
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This was an absolutely perfect conclusion to this imaginative, funny, inclusive, and heartfelt duology.
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I was a bit worried about this book since I knew it was going to be a time travel book but I really loved the first one so I was hopeful I would be able to get through it, but unfortunately I could not. I read about the first 40% of it and after putting it down for several days figured I would just skip to when they got back to the present timeline. Well that was at about 80% so I started again at that point and within a short amount of time Merlin's ridiculous origin story was revealed and a bunch of other weird hand-wavey nonsense and I just could not finish it. The first one was cute as a futuristic King Arthur retelling with awesome queer and POC characters but this one was - to me - just a mess. I'm sure there are a lot of people who will enjoy this conclusion but I would have preferred something a bit less ...timey-wimey.
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What a surprisingly fun read! I was approved on Netgalley for this book before I even read Once & Future. After reading Once & Future and not really liking it all that much, I thought that I'd DNF this book and have to swear to myself to not request pretty books again when I haven't read the first book(s) yet 😅✌🏼 Lucky for me that I really enjoyed Sword in the Stars.

Writing style: There's nothing special about the writing itself. The world-building and continuation of certain plot points could have been written better, but it never felt like an infodump so that's good.

Characters: I didn't really care for the characters in the first book, but has certainly changed in this one. I'm still not super invested in any of them, but they did seem rounder and more... Well, just more, I guess.
My favorite character is Merlin. He's just so fun to read about!

Story: The story of the this book is super different than the Once & Future and I loved it way more. Once & Future was one infodump after another and there was a lot of building up to important things only to never get to those important parts... Sword in the Stars gave me everything that I wish I had in Once & Future.
Best part of the story has to be that their stories made a full circle within different time periods. I love how everything came together and I went all 'OH I SHOULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING' this book totally blindsided me and I don't mind one bit.

Sword in the Stars was an enjoyable read and I'm giving it three stars.
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The writing style was not for me. I did not enjoy the jumping back and forth ... the whole story was kind of weird for me honestly.
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Wow, I really enjoyed reading these books! They're such great stories, I love the fact that they're gender bent King Arthur retelling. Well, the first book is more of an extension, while the second one is more of a retelling, since they're back in the original. Yeah.

I love that this is set way in the future, that Ari is a girl, and that Merlin is a teenager. It's a great mix of elements that were just so enjoyable to read. And that this world is pretty diverse in terms of gender identity and sexual fluidity, as well as skin tones, since Ari is from the planet  Ketchan, were people of Arab descent settled, and how Ketchan is their identity, not Arab. Also, English is now called Mercer, because of course the evil company that they're after changed culture stuff.

We got Ari's perspective and we got Merlin's. Ari has the more important story in the first book, she does her Arthur quest, and does pretty well, with all the big reveals and such. But it's not quite enough, and Sword in the Stars is more Merlin's book. We learn so much about him, and he does come into his own in this book, which was pretty great to read!

Both characters learn and grow over the course of these books. Because there's a whole year gap in the first book, with an unseen, but know it happened training montage. Plus the whole, Gwen and Lancelot bit. As for Merlin, he has to confront aging backwards, and then in the second, being gay in a pretty restricted and backwards time. But I enjoyed both of their journeys, the growth that they both went through, as well as all the story reveals and how everything wrapped up story wise!

Loved reading these stories, they were so enjoyable to read and it was great to have widespread representation!
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This duology is such a wild ride.

Once & Future was a sci-fi retelling of Arthurian legend set in the future, in space, with a slowly aging backwards Merlin and the forty-second reincarnation of King Arthur as teenaged girl named Ari. That book left off with our squad preparing to travel back in time to the original Knights of the Round Table to steal a magical artifact with the power to help them defeat the megolomanic Mercer corporation's stranglehold on the galaxy.

While Once & Future was very much a sci-fi retelling, Sword in the Stars feels much more like historical fantasy with a few sci-fi elements. Upon arriving in the Dark Ages of Old Earth, our squad learns that they have a strange part to play in the original King Arthur's court, and that surviving this time period won't be easy. Especially when they must contend with Merlin's hostile "older" self and period-typical sexism and queerphobia.

Like the first book, this one is sort of all over the place in terms of plot. However, either it was a bit tighter than Once & Future, or I went in knowing what to expect, but overall I do think the plotting seems stronger in Sword in the Stars. Though the pacing is definitely still so strange and different from anything else I've ever read! Though I think it kind of works for this story, which is fast-paced and action-packed and just a little silly; whereas a slower and more deliberate storytelling style would greater expose the plot holes and inconsistencies and make for an altogether less enjoyable reading experience.

Seeing how the authors adapted Arthurian legend for this tale was so interesting, and definitely kept me engaged. But it is the diverse cast of characters that really makes me love this duology.
--
♛ Ari (Arab and multi-gender attracted) is the latest reincarnation of King Arthur, who must disguise her gender and her relationship to Gwen in order to survive Camelot's court
✶ Merlin (mlm) is de-aging dangerously fast, while needing to contend with his past "older" self and face some inner demons
♚ Gwen (biracial Asian/European descent and wlw) has taken on the role of the original Queen Guinevere, though she must hide the fact that she's pregnant from her new husband King Arthur
⚨ Lam (Black, gender fluid [they/them pronouns]) must contend with misgendering in the Middle Ages, but finds solace and purpose in helping the confused non-binary people of the time period (also they were one-handed in the first book, but in retrospect I don't know if that was ever mentioned in this one??)
♠ Val (Black, mlm, demiboy), Gwen's wiliest adviser and Merlin's sort-of boyfriend, has been missing since the group appeared in the past, and might be being held captive by an evil foe
♜ Jordan (ace) must battle restrictive gender roles in order to continue protecting Gwen as a knight
☁ Nin is a powerful magical entity who has forced Arthur and Merlin into this reincarnation cycle for unknown reason, and may be our heroes' greatest threat
--
This book explores the characters of Gwen, Lam, Val, and Nin more deeply than the first book did, and Merlin especially really shines in Sword in the Stars. I do wish that there had been more interaction with some of the Camelot characters-- even King Arthur was only shallowly included in the story.

There are definitely little things throughout Sword in the Stars that don't really make sense, but the story is still pretty enjoyable if you just ignore them. (view spoiler) The most irritating thing for me, though, was some of the language used around gender from characters who are supposedly from a time where humanity has moved beyond any form of queerphobia. For example, at one part Ari says she's, "[not] packing man pieces," in reference to hiding her gender for the purpose of masquerading as a medieval knight. In this gender-utopian future, would people still be referring to body parts as gendered? Also, when Gwen has her baby, because it has a penis they say that it is "assigned male", but in a gender-utopian future why are babies being "assigned" anything according to their genitalia (especially these characters in particular, who are not doctors and can "assign" whatever the fuck they want)?? So in some ways, the world isn't the most well-thought-out.

I really love the way this retelling plays with character archetypes, not only in the relation to the Arthurian characters but also generally in relation to traditional storytelling. The characters might think they're playing out a age-old story, but they're constantly learning that patriarchal, racist human society has re-written the story to mask the truth. "Heroes" are stories-- real people are much more complicated and may play many roles throughout their lives.

Overall, despite some weird discrepancies and strange pacing/plotting, I really have loved reading this duology. This is such a unique take on Arthurian legend, filled with diverse and archetype-smashing characters. The references to other Arthur retellings (including BBC's Merlin and Disney's The Sword in the Stone-- the last chapter even breaks the fourth wall and mentions this duology) made me giggle. It's so apparent that the authors put their heart and soul into this series and had a fun time creating it; and indeed I had a fun time reading it.
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I have this problem where often, when I love the first book in a series, I'll end up sorely disappointed in the second book. This often makes me very hesitant to pick up any sequels.

But because I loved Once & Future, I did really want to read the sequel. And I'm so glad I did, because this book was at least as fun as the first one. I love how queer and diverse a cast this duology has, and I loved the way it showed that history was a lot more diverse than we're taught. 

Where Once & Future is mostly a sci-fi reimaging on the King Arthur stories, Sword in the Stars is an interesting mix of historical fantasy and sci-fi. I thought this genre mix was very well done.

One thing I missed in the first book was seeing the character's personalities fleshed out enough. I was glad to see that this was done more in depth in the sequel, and the book packed more of an emotional punch than the first book did, at least for me.

All in all, this was a really great end to a super fun duology.
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Whew. I liked the first one a lot and I still love how queer and diverse it is. But this was an effort to get through. The good moments were really good, but it was so confusing and the structure was chaotic and the pacing was somehow too fast and sluggishly slow at the same time. I would say maybe I should have reread the first one, but I'm not sure that would have helped my confusion.
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This was such a disappointing book for me that had a lot of missed opportunities and was incredibly disjointed in the narrative. It tells the continuing story of Ari, the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, as she attempts to retrieve a magical cup from Camelot.

The Positives: The cast of characters is very diverse, which is always great to see.

The Negatives: The plot was just all over the place and it was hard to keep things straight because the action jumps from one thing to the next with little build up or explanation. The characters seem forced in their behaviours and just don't have much authenticity. This could have been a really fun fish-out-of-water scenario with people from the future being transplanted into the Medieval past, but instead, they didn't seem to struggle to adjust at all, which was a massive missed opportunity. The writing was disjointed and hard to follow.

Overall, I really didn't enjoy this book and wouldn't recommend it.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Love. Love. Love. Ugh. So amazing! I love this duology so much, and it is SO IMPORTANT!! I love these characters. I can't wait to see what else these authors write together!! Absolutely amazing, and it is so bittersweet that this story is over! I will definitely be rereading this in the future, though!
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I was so excited when I was approved to get this, as I loved the first book so much and I was not disappointed at all in anyway. This book was amazing, from page to to the end I couldn’t put it down, it was a rollercoaster of fun, emotion, action, me verbally crying out as I read, just brilliant! I loved the focus on Merlin, as it seemed to be he got more focus here than in the first book and I loved this development and of course I love him too so that helps. Ari in this book does seem to be less focused on than Merkin, but she’s definitely a focus for the action. I do love a strong woman ! This book just like the first is wonderful, in fact I think this is even better than the first and I recommend both these books to everyone m guaranteed to make you smile.


Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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