Cover Image: Sword in the Stars

Sword in the Stars

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Member Reviews

Sword in the Stars is a brilliantly schemed sequel to Once & Future and entertaining conclusion to this duology. I mentioned that I was a Arthur and Merlin fan in my review of the first novel and due to this I was incredibly pleased when I realised majority of the sequel would be based in the exact era the Arthurian legend derives from! The sequel takes place almost instantly after the ending of Once & Future, it’s fast paced and full of action, and takes place in Camelot itself. In the first book we matched up the characters to their Arthurian counterparts whereas in this sequel it’s up to these characters to now act out their parts in the legend to secure their trip forward in time to their own timeline.
Similar to the first novel, Sword in the Stars was so fun to read, I really enjoyed Merlin’s sarcastic comments about the very uneducated Middle Ages, he could lighten any mood! Practically every character we meet in these books are queer and I particularly loved how even people from the Middle Ages were LGBTQ+, to show that there have been queer people throughout all of history. I definitely thought the characters had a bit more depth to them in the sequel, their personalities were expanded and given more room to grow. I love each and every one of the main characters in this series, Ari & Merlin could possibly be my favourites but I would happily befriend every single one!
I think to enjoy this series you would definitely have to like historical fiction as well, as the sequel is obviously leaning more towards historical with sci-fi characters rather than a Space themed location. I really enjoyed the change in location and time, there was also occasional flashbacks or flashforwards to other timelines and I do love switching up the timeline, so we received rare glimpses of that futuristic setting we got to know in Once & Future.
I’m very pleased that Sword in the Stars was just as good and just as queer as Once & Future and also just as enjoyable! I would definitely recommend this series to any Arthurian legend fans as I found it to be wonderfully entertaining, especially as the famous tale unfolded around these charming characters.
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In this just-published sequel to Once & Future, Sword in the Stars, Ari, Gwen, Merlin and company are on the run again and this time they are going native: back to the time of the original King Arthur! But of course, traveling through time and space does not go as planned, and the group gets separated, shaking up the dynamics of the team again. Many shenanigans ensue, and our crew of queer heroes shake up the Middle Ages and shape Arthurian legend into the story it should always have been. Sword in the Stars is a great conclusion to the duology, and I devoured every page. Full of twists and turns, these books are inclusive, fast-paced and thrilling story-telling as it should be. More of this kind of writing, please!
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So, in the sequel we're transported back in time to Medieval Earth and we get to meet the very first King Arthur. I was so excited to be in this time period - I grew up with the BBC Merlin adaptation and so I'm a sucker for Medieval fantasy novels! To add to this, I loved the new characters we got! The original Arthur is only about fifteen in this novel, and he was such a sweetheart, I adored him! We also get to see old Merlin who is almost obsessed with King Arthur, and also a little power hungry. A few other well known characters were also sprinkled in, including Gwaine and Morgause, who I was very excited to see! 

The pacing issue I had with the first book, I'm glad to say, was resolved in this one. The pacing was perfect and I was on the edge of my seat on numerous occasions. The intrigue and the sense of urgency among the characters was done so well, so I must say that, if you were put off by the pacing of the first book, then definitely pick up the sequel!

My main issue with this book, and why it didn't get the full five stars (although it was very close!) was, unfortunately, the world building. I loved the world building in the first book but I really felt it was lacking here. I know that this book is ultimately character and plot based, but it really didn't feel like we were in Medieval England at all. If you removed the knights, we really could have been anywhere at all. It was a real disappointment.

That being said, this book was a wild ride and I really enjoyed this series overall. The ending of Sword in the Stars made me cry and I loved all the references to other Arthur retelling (and the fourth wall break) that we got at the end. This series is witty and just so much fun and I really urge you to pick it up!
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I...did not like this book. But it wasn't awful. But also I only finished it because I'm a completionist. Let's talk about it.

Pros: 
Cool world I guess
Lots of characters to get to know
Time-travelling retellings are fun
Leads (Ari and Merlin at least) are complete characters with flaws and fully fleshed personalities

Maybe I shot myself in the foot by reading this without first reading Once & Future. Maybe getting to know these characters organically through the first novel would've helped but I'm not sure. Its not that I didn't get to know the characters right away. I did. They just weren't interesting. Lam's only personality was Non-binary Sex-Deity, Jordan was Brooding Girl With Sword, Gwen was Smart & Pretty & Pregnant, and I just didn't feel a connection to anyone except, again, Ari and Merlin. They actually had motivations and it fueled their story. Everyone else just felt acted upon by the main two character's choices (which I guess fits for an Arthurian retelling...). 

Cons:
More non-fleshed out characters than fleshed out ones
I still have no idea how the main baddie was beaten
Who is this For?

My first point was in that first section and the second point is self explanatory. My main con with this story is I can't tell who its for? It has an over arching sense of "Acceptance of sexual/gender/racial fluidity" and being seen by young LGBTQ+ and Questioning youths that is great and definitely needed in that age group (possibly middle school to early high school) but it was also very sexually charged at times that skewed much more late teen. I don't know, I can't figure out the words to say how it feels like this was written for middle schoolers AND high schoolers and I don't think it perfectly achieves either. 

You will probably like this if you read the first one. You may like it if you just like time travel or Arthurian retellings. I just didn't really enjoy it.
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QUEER KING ARTHUR RETELLING, IN SPACE! 

Yes, you heard that correctly, this duology exists and I just finished the second book in this awesome adventure.

All of the characters are all queer and most are people of color including Ari, the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur. She pulls Excalibur from the ruined landscape of the Lady of the Lake in the first book and her adventures begin. The second book, Sword in the Stars, has Ari, her wife Gwen (Guinevere), Merlin, and the Knights of the Round Table traveling back in time to medieval Camelot, seeking a treasure to defeat their nemesis from the future, an evil monopoly of a cooperation, Mercer.

This book is so hilarious and fun, and at the same time the adventure story moves at a breakneck pace. It’s never boring, always interesting, and you will seriously fall in love with Ari and her cast of queer powerhouse figures.
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The second book in the Once & Future duology. It did not disappoint! Great plot twists and it was fun to go back to the actual time of king Arthur. A great reimagining. A really great book
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Sword in the Stars is the second book in the Once & Future duology, a retelling of the King Arthur legend, in which Merlin is cursed to relive the rise and fall of Arthur over and over, throughout time. In this latest cycle, the legendary king takes the form of Ari, an orphan who travels through space with her adoptive brother, avoiding the dominant Mercer company who run the galaxy.

This duology is full of colour, adventure and a whole lot of fun. There is always a turn in the road coming up and you never quite know where that turn is going to go. Sword in the Stars is slightly calmer than the wild ride I remember the first book being. It has a clearer goal (retrieve the grail) and the various characters’ threads become tighter as they draw towards the end. That being said, it still incorporates plenty of brilliant magic, great character moments and a lot of timey-wimey goodness. There are also a few references to other real-life versions of the Merlin and Arthur tale which made me smile.

The heart of this duology is definitely the characters and the bond they have with each other, be it romantic, familial or friendship. I really enjoy the core group and how they are a great example of found family, even if things do get a bit twisty towards the end. The diversity in this book is also excellent, with characters from many walks and identities.

This was such a fun duology to read. It handled the retelling aspect really well – a unique story while still holding true to the legend in a way where neither dominated the other. Fast-paced, full of action and humour, it is difficult not to smile thinking of all the adventures the characters went on.
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This beautiful sequel to the queer genderbent Arthur retelling I never knew I needed did exactly what it promised. 
It gave me hope, and adventure and fierce yet soft love between two girls who will cross worlds for each other. 

It took twists and turns I would have never imagined, and though I am not one for neatly tied up endings I did love each characters growth, and the sheer amount of representation warmed every part of me. 

I adored the writing, and though some of the plot became a little repetitive, and obvious, it did not cancel out any enjoyment along the way.  Also the references to pop culture were on point and I would recommend this funny, lighthearted read to anyone who might be a fan of fun SciFi where the good guys win in the end.
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I really enjoyed this book! I reread the first one in excitement, and was very happy that the sequel lived up to the hype I had created for it! I was pleased with the ending and the character development experienced within the story, particularly the Nimue/Nin exploration. There were fun plot twists, lots of happiness and adventure, and some fun pop. culture references that were a fun end to the book! This is an enjoyable and satisfying end to the duology, and well worth the read.
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Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

This book was a perfect ending to the duology that began with Once And Future. I genuinely had no idea where the plot was going and was more than happy to be swept along in the story. The characters are loveable and engaging and the representation the authors feature is refreshing and a vision of a better future. All hail King Ari (and Merlin)!
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Highly anticipated read for me, I loved the first book in the series and this did not disappoint as sequels go! I love the writing style, the storyline and the space setting - all great twists on a classic legend.
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I adored the first book and the second book lived up to the first.The authors did a great job at highlighting the inequalities in the best whilst still keeping their characters true to themselves. Even when they had to fit in they still pushed for the people around them to accept them for who they were and supported people to accept themselves. 

That's the main positive of this duology: the diversity and the sensitivity in which it is handled. I don't think I've ever read a book where all sexualities, genders and races are written about and have all of them positively represented whilst educating the readers. It was amazing to read.

All in all this was an amazing read. It has everything! History, legends, space, romance, battles, honestly the list could go on. You also get to delve into the history of Camelot and some of it's lesser known characters which was a bonus. The characters are a huge positive of this book. I don't think there was one person I did not like or had negative feelings for. If anything I wish they'd delved a little deeper into the characters. I want so many of them to get their own books and by that I mean Merlin and Val NEED their own book!

Full review will be posted on my blog by 1/5/20
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This second volume in the Once and Future duopoly is as good, if not better than the first!  The wonderful twists and turns of the plot, creating mystery and solving them along the way makes this a fantastic read and a great addition to all the Arthurian legends.  

This bold reinterpretation of the legends, with gender affirmation for LGBTQ+ persons is a delight, full of fun, heroes, chivalry and political comment.  A real legend for our times.
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Unfortunately I DNF the first one at 50% so I won't be reading the sequel. Good premise, but I just couldn't connect with any of the characters, so not for me unfortunately.
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Sword in the Stars is honestly one of the best books I've ever read. This duology was such an enjoyable read and I loved the entire main cast of characters, everyone has an important role in the story. There were plenty of unexpected twists that shocked me in a good way and I was absolutely delighted with the ending. The two main couples were such a joy to read and my queer heart desperately needs more books like this. Ari had so much depth to her and I loved her all the way through. Merlin was an extremely complex character who did some bad things in his life and also went through a lot of awful stuff, but in the end he was such a wonderful character with a heart of gold. I can't talk about all of the characters because I'll be here forever but they are such a great little family of misfits. The story was a great combination of Arthurian history and a relatable plot about the Mercer company taking over the world. Mercer reminded me of Amazon. I loved the little slices of revolution throughout the story, every good story needs a revolution and a dash of hope, and Sword in the Stars certainly delivered.
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I'm not sure why I just got approved for this title again since I already had a copy for months and already submitted my review, but maybe the first was a wish and this one was an actual request? At any rate I'm just copy and pasting my review that I already wrote here. I'm sorry to have to post two reviews for a book I didn't actually enjoy but I guess it just happens sometimes.

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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Sword in the Stars brings the past and the future into one queertastic adventure.

I loved the way that Sword in the Stars with;

"Merlin crash-landed in the past with a great, undignified belly flop."
And

"Dignity is for Knights," he scoffed under his breath. Merlin was a mage."
It brought the humour to the story straight away.



Amy and Cori have weaved the King Arthur legend beautifully with Ari and Gwen story. There are some moments that you have to double-check what you have read to make sure you get all the connections and how the past and present are connected.

In Sword in the Stars we finally find out more and Merlin and his origin story. Which was surprising but I liked it, especially how it connected to the old and new cannon.

The book is fast-paced and something is always happening to at least one of the characters. Which makes it easy to lose yourself in the story.



My favourite aspects of Sword in the Stars;

Time Heist
Female kickass Knight
Romance
Creating queer inclusion in the past
a diverse cast of character
the humour
My least favourite aspects of Sword in the Stars

trying to keep all the multiple story arc in order.
My rating for Sword in the Sword is 4 out of 5.
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I did like this better than Once & Future; however, this still didn't blow me away like I wanted it too.
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I read this with middling hopes, as I had wanted to like Once and Future (the first in the duology) a lot more than I actually did. Luckily, I found myself much more absorbed in Sword in the Stars - though it isn't without its issues, I was always keen to pick it up again and re-enter that world. There were some pacing issues, particularly in the second half of the book, and this made it quite tricky to keep track of what was happening at times. The characters, however, remain endearing - I found myself cackling aloud at points. An emotionally satisfying conclusion means that this edged its way towards 3.5 stars for me - it's a sweet book, if sadly not a great one, and it's heart is in the right place.
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This duology has done a number of things really well, and those things are particularly difficult to strike a balance with. The representation within this book is incredibly diverse, but perhaps more impressive was the development of relationships, which all feel very real rather than a quintessential cookie-cutter friendship or romance. Unfortunately, something also felt a bit off.

Whilst this is every bit the satisfying conclusion to the story so far, there were some issues with pacing and chaotic story telling which really diluted the quality of that conclusion. The story jumps straight in to a time hop, and this made me feel so lost. I felt as though Sword in the Stars was sort of floating out to sea and I was desperately holding on to it as a life-raft, trying to clamber back on board. Honestly, I had to start again because I thought I'd missed something integral to my understanding. Turns out I hadn't, it just wasn't really explained. 

So Ari, Merlin and their perfect band of likeable square pegs and round holes have found themselves travelling back to the time when Arthur was King. This means there are multiple story arcs occurring at once and multiple Merlin's! I liked the concept of Ari hunting down a chalice and trying to save Merlin from his backwards aging dilemma, but the execution felt a bit haphazard. I equally loved that the friendships, romances (and pregnancies) continue to develop unapologetically in this book. The authors have a fantastically brazen approach to dialogue, cultural references and general humour which absolutely shouts from the page; their writing style is nothing short of hilarious and utterly compelling. 

Ultimately, despite how much I genuinely enjoy the way these authors build characters and fun into their stories, I couldn't help but spend most of my time with this book feeling lost, grasping for a firmer hold on the plot, so it was a middle of the road book for me. 

ARC provided from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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