Cover Image: Sword Stone Table

Sword Stone Table

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Member Reviews

The idea behind the Sword Stone Table anthology is to give readers versions of the King Arthur legend through modern, own voices lenses. The stories work best when focusing on the perspectives of “forgotten” characters, including queer, gender and race focused retellings. 

As with most anthologies, I had my favorite stories. 

The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah MacLean
This story features a strong, independent heroine who creates swords, saves her village and manages to find her fated mate, too. 

Do, By All Means by Sive Doyle
This tale is set sometime in the distant past about a young woman on a magical quest. She finds her princess soulmate after eliminating her inferior male competition in heroic fashion. 

Flat White by Jessica Plummer
Flat White is a modern take on Arthur and his friends, with Elaine, barista as the central figure. The ideas of what is predestined vs what individuals can control are front and center. 

Little Green Men by Alexander Chee. 
Aside from the nice Arthur references, I’m always up for a future reality show on Mars with queer characters and descendants of Bjork. Really. 

This anthology is a great concept, and it’s really cool to see the many different interpretations of the King Arthur story. But, the stories require different levels of previous knowledge about King Arthur and his world. The more you know, the more interesting and intriguing some of the stories can be. There were a few stories that had me visiting Wikipedia to check a name or fact that I felt like I missed. However, some stories require  minimal previous knowledge to be fully enjoyed.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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I love the concept of this anthology, but I really struggled to connect to multiple stories because they are from such wildly different genres. I wouldn't even be sure how/who to recommend this to in total vs 1-2 specific stories that are in the same lane.
I think this might have worked better as 2-3 connected collections vs one all-encompassing collection.  Then it could have been divided/targeted either by similar genres/writing styles that might help get it to an enthusiastic audience.  Or maybe dividing into the three time periods within might help.
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Really enjoyed reading this very different take on these types of stories. It was also really neat to read very brand new authors to me! The only feedback I have is that I find the cover rather lacking. I like the concept, but I would have appreciated more details. I enjoyed the anthology as it's so nice to read one or two at a time and come back to it later but still having completed a whole story. I will be sure to promote it! Thank you for approving this for me!!
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This is not the Arthurian tales you grew up with, and if you didn't grow up with them then some stories here might be a struggle. Overall good and entertaining but as with all anthologies not every story was a hit.

 The past section had an almost serene and wise tone that lulled me, entranced me, added mysticism to those stories. I preferred that those stories took parts of the Arthurian legend and retold them with inclusive voices and points of view. 
The present was less enjoyable for me, the writing and stories were not as captivating and full of awe, The future was least enjoyable but that is a personal preference, Mars and sci-fi are not my cup of  tea.

Some stories provide background and some don't so I'd recommend brushing up on your Arthurian knowledge before hand to follow along better.
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Conversation starting re-imagined short stories of Arthurian legend. Edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington, the assorted works by sixteen contributing authors in “Sword Stone Table: Old Legends, New Voices” are vibrant, alternative perspectives on classic tales surrounding the Knights of the Round Table, Guinevere, King Arthur, Merlin and more. Each is just the right length to be read in a sitting, ideal for a casual reader like myself, and every one as thought provoking as the last.

Powerful from the start, I knew right away I would recommend this book to my friends who love to read. I found several of the stories stayed with me long after for their compelling angle on the well-told myth. Even the order and arrangement of the stories is done with care, giving the anthology a sense of flow and creating a positive experience for the reader. The range and style of stories is a journey itself, some that swept me in with fantastic detail, others that made me cackle with glee and one or two that had me blush. LGBTQIA+ inclusive.

Easily a highlight of my reading so far this year, I look forward to picking this up again when it is released July 13.
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I picked up this collection of short stories because I am always interested in the act of reimagining stories from the past, especially as done through the lens of BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, and feminist artists. Especially with stories so ingrained in the British cultural identity, it sounded like a really exciting opportunity to negotiate colonial constructs and reimagine our own legends. In many ways, a lot of these stories did exactly that, taking inspiration from the founding myths of the Arthurian Legends and retelling them in a "gender-bent, race-bent, LGBTQIA+, and inclusive" way. 

The word "inclusive" doesn't do justice to the varied and boundless breadth of this collection. In addition to the identities and cultures represented and explored, these stories span genres from romance to sci-fi to an avant garde collection of memorabilia. The anthology itself is broken into "Once," "Present," and "Future," and this varying dimension of time also lends to the diversity within the book.

Some of the pieces were hard for me to get through, while others felt fresh and inspired. Some highlights for me: Passing Fair and Young by Roshani Chokshi, Jack and Brad and the Magician by Anthony Rapp, and Black Diamond by Alex Segura.

This may seem obvious, but this collection is much more enjoyable if you really know your Arthurian Legends. I have a passing knowledge of the lore, having read some of the tales first hand and then absorbed others from the general American cultural consciousness, but I found myself stopping my reading and googling different characters, places, and storylines in almost every story. I think I would have enjoyed many of these stories much more if I had had a more detailed, in depth, and nuanced hold on the legends.

Thanks to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC.
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I loved this compilation of stories.  They just pulled me in and I recommend it to anyone looking for wonderful short stories.  I especially enjoyed the Arthurian aspect of it all.
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This anthology of short stories related to Arthurian legends is loaded with diverse retelling sand imaginative takes on Arthurian legends. An overall rating is difficult because some stories were more enjoyable for me than others, but that is typical with anthologies. This one has such a variety of styles and visions, that anyone who enjoys tales related to Camelot should pick this up.
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I love anthologies and I can’t think of a better topic than arthurian lore. I’ve read other anthologies themed around one classic story and the problem that inevitably arises is that it begins to feel like a rehashing of the same beats in different fonts over and over again. But arthurian lore is so rich and expansive, and this collection, more than anything, served to show me how little I truly knew about it, and has me excited at the prospect of diving in and exploring further. It also shows even more how absolutely ridiculous zach snyder’s recent announcement of his plans to make an “accurate” adaptation of the legend is. One tale that I previously knew nothing about was the story of Elaine, Lancelot’s wife. I’d even heard the poem The Lady of Shalott, but never knew the context. Now I think it’s possibly one of the most heartbreaking tales in literature, and there are two wonderful stories in this collection that put very different but equally satisfying spins on the tale, Passing Fair and Young by Roshani Chokshi, and Flat White by Jessica Plummer. Along with those two, other highlights of the collection for me were:
I Being Young and Foolish by Nisi Shawl, a take on the stories of The Lady of the Lake and Merlin with beautiful descriptions of forests and nature magic, as well as a fascinating use of time magic, and a beautiful romance. 
The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah McLean, which I’m still unsure of the inspiration behind, but nonetheless found a lovely story on its own with another compelling romance (with a hero who gave me big Geralt of Rivia vibes). Mayday by Maria Dahvana Headle, an epistolary story told in the itemized list of an auction of items found in a lighthouse on an island in lake Eerie that recounts the story of a sort of old western, political late 19th century version of King Arthur’s attempted rise to power. 
And lastly, though I could easily mention more that I enjoyed, White Hempen Sleeves by Ken Liu, a futuristic sci-fi story, another of which I’m not sure of the inspiration behind, but nonetheless found the fascinating world building, the exploration of the ethical implications of a world where such things are possible (which called to mind The Seep by Chana Porter), and the consequences of those actions extremely entertaining. 
Overall, I would highly recommend this collection to fans of Arthurian lore and any anthology lovers with even just a passing understanding of the myths. This is definitely a collection I see myself revisiting stories from in the future, as well as having found some new authors to check out. 
Thank you to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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An anthology centred around Arthurian legend, transcends time and genre. While a couple of the stories weren’t to my taste, I fully enjoyed the diversity of settings, characters, and narrative styles. I especially liked PASSING FAIR AND YOUNG by Roshani Chokshi, THE BLADESMITH QUEEN by Sarah MacLean, DO, BY ALL DUE MEANS by Sive Doyle, BLACK DIAMOND by Alex Segura, and LITTLE GREEN MEN by Alexander Chee. 
This anthology is worth the read.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QADI by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Nice writing, liked the idea of seeing a legendary court through the eyes of a representative of another legendary kingdom but, in the end, the story was too cynical for my tastes.

This story was a lot of fun to read. The writing was beautiful. I loved the way this story unfolded and the payoff at the end had me grinning. 

This one was not my cup of tea. I thought I was getting a story about friendship through a male lens. Instead, I got people gushing over Lancelot and an ending that left me scratching my head.

I loved this take on Merlin! The pace was good and story kept me engaged all the way to the end. 

I loved this story of fated mates making their way to each other. The story’s feminist gaze worked well in the medieval setting. I loved two people who have been alone in fulfilling their purposes finding a happily ever after together. Great read!

DO, BY ALL DUE MEANS by Sive Doyle
Part coming of age, part adventure, and part love story. The characters were well-developed and the plot complete. It was an achievement in the short format!

MAYDAY by Maria Dahvana Headley
Innovative storytelling. Enjoyed the unique style of this story and the way the author used distancing effect to give us a more detached perspective of both the events and the characters. The political application felt timely.

HEARTBEAT by Waubgeshig Rice
The Sword in the Stone is one of the best known Arthurian stories and this story reimagines it in a way that feels authentic. Thumbs up!

Merlin story. Emotionally complex and heartbreaking, this loving snapshot of a moment in life is hopeful in its view of the future. 

THE QUAY STONE by S. Zainab Williams
One toxic friendship threatens our heroine, until she remembers what is most important to her. This is a dizzying, magical story.

BLACK DIAMOND by Alex Segura
King Arthur in baseball was fun and I loved the way it played with impostor syndrome and the mental game.

FLAT WHITE by Jessica Plummer
Pulling out the worst elements of the relationships within the lore. This story tackles feeling stuck in a cycle. 

ONCE(THEM) & FUTURE(US) by Preeti Chhibber
Time loop story of Merlin, Arthur and Morgan leFay that reimagines their fates in modern London.

THE SHADOW IN AMBER by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Memories as illegal contraband. Cool premise, but it left me feeling dissatisfied which I believe was the point. It just wasn’t  my cup of tea.

Masochistic search of new experience in a world where you can live indefinitely leads to unethical use of technology. Man’s hubris is his downfall. 

LITTLE GREEN MEN by Alexander Chee
Sweet! Futuristic commentary on social hierarchy and reality shows with a forbidden love story running through its core. The references to Bjork did not hurt at all.
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This collection of re-tellings of King Arthur and Merlin tales is an absolute must-read for all fans of Camelot! With so many stories to choose from, there's something for everyone. These are LGBTQIA+ inclusive re-tellings, set in the past, the present, and the future, which also stand on their own and are enjoyable fantasy tales for readers without any knowledge of Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, or the others.

My favorites:

Passing Young and Fair by Roshani Chokshi
The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah MacLean
Jack and Brad and the Magician by Anthony Rapp
Flat White by Jessica Plummer

#SwordStoneTable #NetGalley - I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.
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Lesbian lady knights! I looked forward to this book for a long time and it truly didn't disappoint. Anthologies don't always circulate well but I'm sure I will be hand-selling this one a lot. It's very nice to see such a solid, diverse fantasy collection.
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Overall, a very interesting, fun-to-read, and diverse set of stories. Like all anthologies, some stories were more to my tastes than others, but the quality of writing was high throughout, and each story was unique in a different way. Recommended for any fantasy and Arthurian legend lovers.

My stand-out favorites, in order they appeared in the anthology:
Passing Fair and Young by Roshani Choksi: a fun look at a minor character and her choices, very sweet.

The Bladesmith Queen by Sarah MacLean: a fated-mates romance vibe. Uplifting and empowering (and I love a lady blacksmith).

Do, By All Due Means by Sive Doyle: coming of age adventure quest + finding oneself + f/f romance. Fun and happy.

Mayday by Maria Dahvana Headley: Unique format of articles and snippets. Suspenseful, intriguing, highly satisfying.

A Shadow in Amber by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: futuristic Lady of Shalott where people can buy another person's memories. Very creepy, but so well done.

Brief thoughts on the other stories, in the order they appeared:
The Once and Future Qadi by Ausma Zehanat Khan: beautifully written, neat premise, but a cynical view of humanity that I found a bit depressing.

How, After Long Fighting, Galehaut Was Overcome by Lancelot Yet Was Not Slain and Made Great Seep to Yield to Friendship; Or, Galehaut, the Knight of the Forfeit by Daniel M. Lavery: not at all to my taste. Couldn't get into the writing style.

I Being Young and Foolish by Nisi Shawl: not a bad Merlin tale, but kind of sad and a predictable plot.

Heartbeat by Waubgeshig Rice: started slow, but overall an interesting twist on the sword in the stone.

Jack and Brad and the Magician by Anthony Rapp: really sad (due to AIDS crisis setting), but beautiful

The Quay Stone by S. Zainab Williams: not my style. I didn't like the manipulations the protagonist went through, or the back-and-forth between past and present tense.

Black Diamond by Alex Segura: a neat baseball take on the myths. I really liked how this story pulled in many of the side characters.

Flat White by Jessica Plummer: not for me. Felt like literally just the Arthur story but modern.

Once (Them) & Future (Us) by Preeti Chhibber: I liked the Merlin/Morgan vibe here. This story felt a little long, or maybe slow, compared to most.

White Hempen Sleeves by Ken Liu: one of those really dark/twisted kind of sci=fi stories. Didn't feel any real connection to the mythology.

Little Green Men by Alexander Chee: a cute futuristic take on Gawain and the Green Knight,
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Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing for the ARC in exchange for an honest review! 

It's always difficult to rate anthologies-- some of the short stories are fantastic, some are not as much. I usually am more of a generic-historical-fantasy-time-period person, and I'd thought I would love the first section so much more. It even started out with a fantastic, amazing story that I was so sure would set the tone. Unfortunately, The Once and Future Qadi (Ausma Zehanat Khan) seemed to be the best of the lot. I struggled through the next two, and found myself experiencing reading lag by the fourth. The fifth took me longer to make my way through, and the final one pulled my attention only by the dint of it being sapphic. A fair amount of the stories in the past seemed to lie mostly on destiny-- "this was said, so this would happen". The Bladesmith Queen seemed to rely mostly on the trope of Finding the Right Man to not Fear the Woman-- something that nearly made me put down the book. 

The "Present" section absolutely made up for what I struggled through in the first section (after the first one). Mayday (Maria Dahvana Headley) and Heartbeat (Waubgeshig Rice) stole my attention, and kept them fixated. The Quay Stone (S. Zainab Williams) kept me ensnared. Black Diamond (Alex Segura) caused me to to pay an interest in the sport it described. Flat White (Jessica Pummer) was an interesting turn on a modern-day AU. Once (Them) & Future (Us) (Preeti Chhibber) made me want a whole story on them. 

The Future section was far shorter than I would have expected, admittedly, though I did enjoy it as well.

One thing I found was how many were showing that the myth was cylindrical-- it was playing out, over and over, new names, different backgrounds, same people-- and a name that popped up a few times for Arthur was Arturo. I feel as if this drove it in, though I'm sure it wasn't on purpose. Overall, I did enjoy the anthology once I got to the present. 4 out of 5 stars!
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4.5 stars.

It's a well-known fact that I love Arthurian myth, and when I found out about Sword Stone Table and Maria Dahvana Headley contributing to it, I was 100% on board. Having read this has introduced me to so many great new writers! A few stories were underwhelming, but I found the majority solid and captivating. Some of the ones that stand out include "Passing Fair and Young" and "Flat White," two stories that explore the character Elaine and have equally compelling storylines; "The Quay Stone," which is set in Singapore and portrays the darker side of obsession through the Lady of the Lake; the futuristic "Little Green Men" that is a fantastic adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; and Headley's story "Hayday," which was my favorite and which I can describe only as a political western where Merlin is referred to as a "cowboy poet, patent medicine seller, soap-box agitator, and magician."

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Sword Stone Table edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington is a testament to the power of anthologies. Some of these tales are eerie, warnings about the cyclical nature of humanity; others are heartfelt moments of second chances and what it means to become a leader.  All embody the beating heart of King Arthur and his Court, and what it means to turn into a living story.  

Several of these stand out, in particular:

The Once and Future Qadi (Asuma Zehanat Khan) - One of the best Outsider POVs you'll read from the genre. With the Queen's honor put on social trial, it is up to a jurist of the Almohad caliphate to investigate the tricky nature of the court. With a narration reminiscent of Agagthe Christe's dry tone, Khan grounds the myth in a historical reality through the practical eyes of her protagonist. I could easily read a whole volume of Yusuf's adventures. 

Passing Young and Fair (Roshani Chokshi) - A breathtaking retelling of Elaine and the sacrifices women make. I can't say much due to spoilers, but her prose pulls at you like a river. 

Mayday (Maria Davhana Headley) -  Myth becomes present through the items found at the West Sister Island Lighthouse. The story of King Arthur is retold through newspaper clipping, bullet-ridden clothes, diary entries, and private investigator notes about a series of events that happened in the 1800s. Is it magic or mundane? You decide. 

Heartbeat (Waubgeshig Rice) - Rice perfectly captures the joy of reading King Arthur for the first time. As someone who grew up with Disney's Sword in the Stone, Heartbeat reminds us of the power of memories and stories around brave children. 

Flat White (Jessica Plummer) - If you have ever felt slighted by Elaine was treated in the myths, this tale about reincarnation and messy relationships will help validate the anger inside. The ending nearly had me screaming. 

Once (Them) & Future (Them) (Preeti Chhibber) - I am literally dying for this to become a novel. I don't know how to explain this story about reincarnation and second chances without spoiling anything, but Chhibber has written the exhaustion off living these lives so well. So many mistakes, so many choices, but there is such relief in the way she has these characters explore them. 

Little Green Men (Alexander Chee) - A sci-fi retelling of The Green Knight. Gavin is challenged by a mysterious man in green as he wonders about the disappearance of a good friend. Self-aware and full of Easter Eggs, you'll have to read this story more than once.
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