Her heroic moment would never be met with parades or universe-wide celebration, but most heroic moments weren’t. Each was a single drop in the great flow of time, but every drop mattered. And the right one, at the right moment, could change the water’s direction entirely.
I’m so glad that I already had this on my kindle ready for when I finished Once & Future, it was just too good for words and I had to know what happened next. Sword in the Stars is out today – this review will contain spoilers for Once & Future, but not for Sword!
Rating: 5 stars!
Thanks to Netgalley and Oneworld Publications for the eARC of this book.
Ari might have won the war against the Mercer corporation, but the war is just starting. Merlin, Ari and her knights have to travel back in time to the Middle Ages to steal King Arthur’s grail – an impossible quest in the extremely unenlightened Camelot. Somehow they have to accomplish their quest without destroying the timeline and the Arthurian legend, despite the fact that the unfriendly past is full of judgement for everything Ari and her knights are and what they stand for.
What did I think?
As a general rule I am extremely skeptical of time-travel plots, because they’re usually messy and confusing and generally full of people messing up the timeline because they’re too stupid to follow the rules. This time-travel adventure? Brilliant. They didn’t commit any of the big time-travel crimes, and they were very aware of the fact that they had to stick to the legend. They, uh, didn’t. But they were aware of it, which made me a lot more forgiving. The timelines were also super clear. Which, considering how complicated the timelines are in this book, was really impressive. I knew what was going on at all times, and never felt like it was confusing me. The pacing was nearly perfect too, keeping things moving along but giving characters plenty of time for personal development. I still hate time-travel plots, but I loved this book.
This book is truly chaotic, and if it’s been a while since you read Once & Future, it’s probably worth a re-read first to get yourself up to speed on all the characters and plot, because Sword in the Stars jumps straight back into the action without any hesitation. It starts where Once & Future left off, with Ari and her knights being flung back in time to the original Camelot. Camelot was a hell of a setting, and this book does not flinch away from challenging the mysogyny, racism, homophobia and transphobia of the past, while not being afraid to call out twenty-first century culture alongside it. The call-outs were built into the story, given that most of the character cast are from a time when equal rights are so ingrained that they can’t comprehend a time when fluid and non-binary genders and fluid sexualities weren’t accepted. I also absolutely screamed when they called out the Merlin TV show for queer-baiting. I hope that meta-moment stays in the final cut, honestly, because it was so funny.
The plot is super engaging, but more than anything else it’s the relationships between characters that really makes this book shine. They’re complicated, and Ari and Gwen in particular are dealing with the fall-out of Once & Future, with Gwen’s pregnancy and Kay’s death making a mess of things between them. Val and Merlin are facing separation as Merlin’s backwards-aging is only getting worse, and that’s without throwing old-Merlin and the original Arthur into the mix. The relationships are made… extremely weird and complicated by a few things that happen through the course of the book, and I honestly love it. Overall this book is a really satisfying conclusion to an excellent duology, and it’s so packed full of love and determination and power, with a found-family that will truly do anything for each other and will always get up no matter how hard Mercer knocks them down.
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