science fiction · series · young adult

Sword in the Stars: an amazing conclusion to this King Arthur in space duology

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Sword in the Stars

Once and Future #2

authors : amy rose capetta & cori mccarthy

favorite character : merlin

summary :

In this epic sequel to Once & Future, to save the future, Ari and her Rainbow knights pull off a heist… thousands of years in the past.

Ari Helix may have won her battle against the tyrannical Mercer corporation, but the larger war has just begun. Ari and her cursed wizard Merlin must travel back in time to the unenlightened Middle Ages and steal the King Arthur’s Grail—the very definition of impossible.

It’s imperative that the time travelers not skew the timeline and alter the course of history. Coming face-to-face with the original Arthurian legend could produce a ripple effect that changes everything. Somehow Merlin forgot that the past can be even more dangerous than the future…

review :

Wow wow wow wow wow.

I’ve never read a book like Once and Future, I’ve never read a conclusion like Sword in the Stars. This duology is so good, and so important for spreading diversity in a genre that unfortunately doesn’t see much of it. There’s so much representation in these books, so much love, power, and determination sprinkled on every page. It makes me wish there was more for me to read, more books to anticipate, but, honestly, Sword in the Stars is the perfect end to this epic journey across space and time to save the universe.

Ari and her friends, including backwards-aging Merlin, all return in this sequel with the intent to stop Mercer once and for all–the power-hungry company ruling the known universe (I personally picture them as Amazon but with spaceships). They need to go back to the past if they have any hope at saving the future.

I was honestly worried when I saw time travel would be involved in a duology where in Once and Future each character, no matter their identity, is allowed to live fully out and proud without any fear (well, being afraid of Mercer, but Mercer wants to kill them for various reasons, none of which involve how the characters identify). Refreshing! Obviously untrue in the past (and … present). I did really like how their time in the past was handled, though; no truth was brushed over, but a lot of hope was given in the past as well.

I do wish Sword in the Stars had dug a little farther into its characters. There’s an amazing cast here, filled with people who genuinely care for one another and the universe even if they each have their own spectacular flaws. At times, something would happen that wouldn’t just be shocking, but devastating, and only a line or two would be spared for the characters’ feelings before . . . it would never be mentioned again. I’m an emotional person, and often feel better connected when reading if I have a good understanding of where the main characters are emotionally. None of that was ever really touched on. The plot was excellent; I liked the different beats the story hit, but at times it felt like emotional arcs were sacrificed in order to tie up plot points.

That being said, for someone sitting on the fringes of sci-fi and only just beginning to get into the genre, I loved the world and story built here. The plot was complex and a little convoluted, but not difficult to follow. I loved the journey the characters take, and the conclusion more than satisfied me (okay, yes, I shed a few tears at the end. SUE ME. That was an emotional beat that hit!). I can’t wait to read more from these authors. I also can’t wait to see the diverse stories that are published in the future (our future, not a Mercer hundreds-of-years-from-now future) because YA readers were inspired by books like Once and Future and Sword in the Stars.

4/5 stras

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