Cover Image: Sword Stone Table

Sword Stone Table

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Member Reviews

What a delight! This collection is an outstanding cross-genre melange that is sure to satisfy many readers. The MacLean title was particularly strong, but all were well-done. If you’re interested in fairy tale retellings, particularly Arthurian legends, this is the book for you. The gender-bent, queer, fantasy lenses only make these familiar stories feel fresh and new.
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This is such a hard book for me to review because I was so excited to get into it/read it, because I love King Arthur retellings, but short stories are so hard for me, so I ended up DNFing it after the first story. I generally don't like short stories, but because Roshani Chokshi authored one of the short stories, I was like I'm going to do it! I need some time to get into a story and by the time I'm really into a short story, it's done (or I just never get into it at all). I really wish I had liked it though! Based on the first story in this collection, I think it would be great for people who do like short stories though and the King Arthur retellings are always on point
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this was a really cool anthology! I'll admit my favorite story was Sarah Macleans😍 Her books are my favorite, and I LOVED her story in this book!! It was mystical and sexy and such a ride
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A collection of stories that really feels like the perfect chaser to David Lowery's The Green Knight — reinterpretations of classic legends that we all know so well, but from authors that infuse it with a fresh sense of voice and identity. Definitely some standouts from the pack for sure, but overall a marvelous anthology that would make a perfect addition to anyone's bookshelf, especially if you grew up reading these tales in school like I did!
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I’m conflicted about how I feel about this collection. Some of the stories were innovative and really fun read while others dragged. Some relied pretty heavily on a previous knowledge of Arthurian mythology, whereas others barely seemed to have any in it, to a point where I thought I was missing some deep subtext. I really enjoyed some of the stories (especially the one told through an auction since the setting is just a few miles from where I live) and there were some really sweet moments in a few stories as well. Overall, though, it often felt very disjointed and it was a bit jarring sometimes since the vibes were so different from piece to piece which I guess is inherent in many short story collections. Maybe if I were more intimately acquainted with the King Arthur legends I would have enjoyed it more, but as it stood, the collection was enjoyable but not extraordinary.
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No story here is less than solid, but standouts for me included Ausma Zehanat Khan’s “The Once and Future Qadi,” in which King Arthur summons a Cordoban judge to Camelot to determine whether Guinevere is guilty of adultery; Maria Dahvana Headley’s extraordinary “Mayday,” which assembles 19th-century artifacts surrounding the “presidential run of one Mr. Arthur Pendragon, the Cleveland-based millionaire” with a dark secret past; Waubgeshig Rice’s profoundly moving “Heartbeat,” in which an Indigenous community’s once and future kinship is not so much pulled from a stone as unearthed from beneath it; and Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s “A Shadow in Amber,” which sets “The Lady of Shalott” in a near-future Mexico City where the young and poor can sell portions of their experiences to the wealthy. If you got excited about Dev Patel starring in “The Green Knight,” you’ll definitely want to pick this up.
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Review for The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah MacLean

I requested an arc of this as soon as I saw Sarah Mac had a story in there, especially one based on an Arthurian legend. Only thing, I realized I don’t know enough of a background of many of these legends to truly understand or appreciate this story. Regardless, this has all the characteristics that draw me to the author’s work; luscious prose, a totally fierce heroine, and a hero would quite literally move worlds to please his lady love. All in this tiny little story.
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I am such a sucker for King Arthur retellings, and this anthology did not disappoint. Each of the stories were so imaginative and creative as well as packed with great characters and worldbuilding. I would love to see any of these stories turn into full length novels.
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This collection reimagines a more diverse, inclusive world of Arthurian legend, creating new ways for readers to find themselves in the classic tales. Set in the past, present, and future, these stories are wonderfully creative and transporting. Each character gets their own moment in the spotlight. As someone with a limited knowledge of Arthurian legend, I thoroughly enjoyed Sword Stone Table, recognizing plenty of the lore and finding new characters to love along the way.
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A really well-conceived, themed collection riffing on Arthurian myths. I am more familiar with some of the Arthurian legends than others, but I really enjoyed the retellings and flipped stories throughout. The "Past" section was my favorite, but the quality was high throughout.
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Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices is an anthology of 16 stories curated by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington and published by Vintage Books. The stories feature different takes on the legend of King Arthur and its multiple characters, including Merlin and Lancelot. The anthology is split into three different sections. Once features stories set in various points in the past, Present contains stories mostly set in modern-day times, and Future puts a sci-fi spin on Arthurian lore.

Krishna says that the inspiration for the anthology came from a question that Northington asked her: “Where are the gender-bent Arthur stories? The race-bent retellings, the queered ones?” Twists on Arthurian lore are nothing new. From comics, including Once & Future to Netflix’s Cursed and Wizards: Tales of Arcadia, there have been plenty of stories that recast the normally white and/or male protagonists as female, BIPOC, and/or LGBTQIA+ characters.

Sword Stone Table is also refreshing in that many of the tales feature characters other than Arthur. I’ve told a few friends that the way to keep Arthurian lore fresh is to dig deep in every corner of the legend. We’ve seen Arthur’s ascension to kinghood and his death in multiple adaptations. So I’m glad that most of these stories focus on other characters.

Out of all the sections, Present was the one I resonated the most with. The idea of translating ancient mythology to the modern day has often yielded great stories and often serves as a test of a writer’s skill. The two stories that play the most with this idea are “Jack and Brad and the Magician,” written by Anthony Rapp (Star Trek Discovery, Rent), and “Once (Them)  & Future (Us),” written by Preeti Chibber (Marvel: Avengers Assembly). Both stories feature Merlin in the modern-day, with the former taking place during the height of the AIDS crisis in New York and the latter in modern-day London. Both stories also feature queer and BIPOC characters: Jack is a Thai lawyer taking care of his boyfriend Brad, and a newly awakened Merlin—now christened Emrys—struggles to reconcile his feelings for a reincarnated Arthur who is now an Indian man named Arjun. The Arthurian legend has always been grand and full of romance, but seeing it filtered through these new prisms was rather heartwarming.

Once continues the trend of expanding upon other characters in the Arthurian mythos, particularly in the story “The Bladesmith Queen” by Sarah MacLean. This recasts the Lady of the Lake as a skilled blacksmith who gains a reputation for the “curse” that befalls those who kiss her and for forging one-of-a-kind swords sought by warriors from across the land. A mysterious warrior comes to the Bladesmith one day and asks for a sword in exchange for inflicting her vengeance on those who have misused her blades. This story is mysterious and sexy and will draw readers’ attention until the very last paragraph.

Finally, Future merges science fiction, which happens to be one of my favorite genres in fiction, with Arthurian lore. The results are a wonder to behold. “A Shadow In Amber” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic) takes a trippy approach to Guinevere and Lancelot’s love story in a world where the wealthy can purchase and relive memories; think “King Arthur meets Inception.” “Little Green Men” is another sci-fi twist on fantasy, combining Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with the premise of The Running Man as Gawain—called Gavin in this retelling—undergoes an obstacle course on Mars.

Sword Stone Table: Old Legends New Voices takes a genuinely diverse and refreshing approach to the legend of King Arthur, filtering Arthurian myth through a variety of perspectives and genres thanks to a collection of talented authors. As someone who’s loved the legend of Arthur all his life, I genuinely loved reading this anthology, and I’d recommend it to every reader I know. Sci-fi, fantasy, and romance; there is literally something for everyone in this anthology.

Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices will be available wherever books are sold.
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This is a large collection of short stories related based on Arthurian legends. Some are more successful than others, which is not uncommon in any anthology. I really liked the concept used of "once" "present" "future" to set the stories. The settings and characters are diverse, and none of these stories are repetitive retellings of the legends. Some of my favorite stories were The Bladesmith Queen; Do, By All Due Means; Jack and Brad and the Magician: Black Diamond; and A Shadow in Amber. Heartbeat is especially beautiful. These are all stories full of imagery and emotion. It's a great collection.
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This anthology included 16 stories that were split into Arthurian era, present, and future, or as it's written in the book, "Once/Present/Future." It's been a while since I read an anthology where I don't recognize most of the authors. I've only heard of 3 of these authors and only read from one, so it definitely delivers on the "new voices" promise.'
This also delivers on making the Arthurian stories more diverse, with over half including main characters of color and three stories including queer characters!
A decent amount of these focused on the classic tales; King Arthur and Excalibur, the messy relationship of King Arthur, Guinevere, and Lance-a-lot, but some went more off the beaten path with stories of the Lady of the Lake, Elaine, or stories who's only connection was Merlin being there. No story felt the same even if they pulled from the same tales.
And now my individual ratings for each. I didn't rate two of them because I was just too confused. A star (*) indicates it's one of my top 3 favorite stories in the collection.
•	The Once and Future Qadi by Ausma Zehanat Khan - 3.25 stars
•	*Passing Fair and Young by Roshani Chokshi - 4 stars
•	How, After Long Fighting, Galehaut Was Overcome by Lancelot Yet Was Not Slain and Made Great Speed to Yield to Friendship; Or, Galehaut, the Knight of Forfeit by David M. Lavery
•	I Being Young and Foolish by Nisi Shawl
•	The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah MacLean - 3 stars
•	*Do, By All Due Means by Sive Doyle - 4 stars
•	Mayday by Maria Dahvana Headley - 3 stars
•	Heartbeat by Waubgeshig Rice - 3.75 stars
•	Jack and Brad and the Magician by Anthony Rapp - 3.25 stars
•	The Quay Stone by S. Zainab Williams - 3 stars
•	Black Diamond by Alex Segura - 3 stars
•	Flat White by Jessica Plummer - 3 stars
•	Once (Then) & Future (Us) - 3 stars
•	*A Shadow in Amber by Silvia Moreno-Garcia - 3.75 stars
•	White Hempen Sleeves by Ken Liu - 3 stars
•	Little Green Men by Alexander Chee - 3.25 stars
As you can see, most if not all of my ratings were in the 3 star range. Nothing was so amazing as to get 5 stars, but nothing was so bad as to get 1 or 2 stars. That's also why I haven't given individual reviews of each one, because I just didn't have nay strong opinions on most of the stories. 
If you are a fan of Arthurian retellings and you want to see a wide array of different takes on the stories, this collection is definitely for you!
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There's truly something for everyone in this book! The standouts for me were the Sarah MacLean, which was swoony and dramatic and made me wish MacLean would write a full-length medieval, and the Alexander Chee's, which was delightfully bonkers. I also really loved Jessica Plummer's coffee shop setting with current day incarnations of the Arhurian gang. All in all a creative and fun read.
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I enjoyed the idea and premise of this anthology, but unfortunately everything other than Roshani Chokshi's Passing Fair and Young fell flat for me. If I could have a novel-length deep dive into this story, I could live a happy life.
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Actual rating: 3.5 stars

Like most anthologies, this had a collection of stories that I loved, liked, and disliked. Overall though, I think this is a pretty solid collection. Admittedly, there were some stories where I wasn't quite sure what the connection was to Arthurian legend. It's broken up into past, present, and future, so we encounter different tales based on the time period as well. I thought this was a fun way to structure the anthology! The past and present both had stories I loved, though they also had stories that I just didn't get. The present had several stories that were fine, but not outstanding. In general, I think the future section was probably the weakest for me in that I thought these were just fine.

Commenting on some of these stories in particular:


Roshani Chokshi - probably my favorite story in the collection. This was a great story about the Lady of Shalott and choices. It explores greatness versus being in the background. I love her writing in general, so I'm not terribly surprised that this worked really well for me.

Sarah MacLean - this was more romance focused about a lady blacksmith and fate. I think this was maybe about the Lady of the Lake? It was less clear to me, but I actually didn't mind because it was an enjoyable story. It had some interesting characters that I'd read a full book about.


Waubgeshig Rice - a retelling of the Sword in the Stone. Arthur is a First Nations boy in a reservation. This touches on suppressing culture and taking kids away from their families, but it's also very much about reclaiming heritage. I thought this was a pretty impactful story.

Anthony Rapp - this was a good (but very sad) story about Merlin years later. It touches on the HIV/AIDS crisis, so this was probably one of the saddest stories of the collection. It's well written though.

Alex Segura - this was probably my second favorite story in the collection. This reimagines the general story of King Arthur in terms of baseball. We follow Arturo Reyes with Excalibur (a bat!). I enjoy baseball in general, so that really helped me connect with this story. It was fun to see how everything was translated to the game, and it generally felt like it was about believing in yourself.

Jessica Plummer - we follow Elaine as she works at Starbucks (or a similar coffee shop). She encounters reincarnated versions of everyone. I liked this, though it did have a sad tone overall. The ending was fabulous!


Silvia Moreno-Garcia - this deals with Elaine and Lancelot. This brought up some interesting ideas with memories and consuming them.

Overall, I had a fun time with this anthology and would recommend it to those looking for more inclusive retellings of Arthurian legend!

My video review can be seen on my booktube channel (around minutes 6:10-10:03 of this video):
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I love a themed anthology of short stories! I picked this one up mostly because I saw Sarah MacLean had contributed a story, and she is one of my favorite authors. Her story did not disappoint! There is a variety of voices and time periods represented here - everything from fantasy, to contemporary, to sci-fi as far as genre is concerned. I skipped around a bit and have read most of the stories now, and they have all been unique, delightful. I do not have extensive knowledge about Arthurian legends, so I'm sure there are references or touchstones I missed. But that did not diminish my enjoyment of the stories.
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Past, Present, and Future Autherian stories.  Authors from all genres. Some surprising authors as well. I really liked the shorter ones, forced to tell the tale. The longer ones meander, and I tended to lose focus. But this is a great collection of retellings of Arthurian Legends. 

I received an ARC from Netgalley and Vintage.
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Note: I am a HUGE Arthurian fan. I will likely pick up anything that has anything to do with King Arthur or his Knights. I devoured this in one one sitting. 

I like a good retelling and most of the authors contributing to this anthology were new to me. Some I will seek out other novels they penned and others not so much. What this absolutely DID deliver was the most diverse and creative ways of retelling and all inclusive to boot. 

It's understandable to like retelling(s) because they allow the author to take certain creative liberties and sometimes take a good story and make it great. This does not disappoint in showing how people are represented in the present time in a loved legend from so long ago. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for allowing me to review this early.
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I received this as an ARC and absolutely adored going through all the stories - all takes on Arthurian legends. I am a big fan of King Arthur retellings, but haven’t experienced anything as diverse or as thoughtful as this book. 

My favorite stories were from Daniel M. Lavery and Sarah MacLean - two of my favorite authors!
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