Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
I’ve been chased my whole life. As a fugitive refugee in the territory controlled by the tyrannical Mercer corporation, I’ve always had to hide who I am. Until I found Excalibur.
Now I’m done hiding.
My name is Ari Helix. I have a magic sword, a cranky wizard, and a revolution to start.
When Ari crash-lands on Old Earth and pulls a magic sword from its ancient resting place, she is revealed to be the newest reincarnation of King Arthur. Then she meets Merlin, who has aged backward over the centuries into a teenager, and together they must break the curse that keeps Arthur coming back. Their quest? Defeat the cruel, oppressive government and bring peace and equality to all humankind.
Disclaimer: I received a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
When Ari pulls Excalibur from an old tree on Old Earth, she starts a cycle that has been repeating for centuries. She is deemed to be the 42nd reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur. Merlin, who has been ageing backwards and has only one cycle left, needs to train Ari up so she is ready to lead humanity against its greatest threat. But, Arthur’s reincarnations always end up repeating the same doomed cycle – pull Excalibur, fall in love with Guinevere-only to end up broken-hearted- and then killed by the enchantress Morgana. Ari is different, and in her, Merlin sees a chance to finally put the cycle to rest.
‘”That’s what resistance looks like, Merlin. It’s not one glorious, shining victory. It’s a torch that you keep burning, no matter what.”‘
I’ve been looking forward to reading Once & Future since it was announced. I’ve been wanting a queer Arthurian retelling for so long and Once & Future really delivered. It had an f/f romance and an m/m romance too, it also featured a disabled side character, an ace side character, and a non-binary side character and plenty of characters of colour too!
At the heart of the story, Once & Future is about fighting oppression and injustice. About fighting for the little guy against the big bad corporation, and about what happens when good people do nothing but also about what happens when good people actually do something.
Once & Future is sort of a mash-up of different genres, it has fantasy elements, science fiction elements, and comedic elements and for the most part, it does work. I enjoyed the more medieval aspect of Lionel mixed in with the science fiction aspects of space stations and intergalactic politics. Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta manage to take a well-known legend and create it into something really original.
Some of the characters were the highlight of the book. I loved both Merlin and Ari, our main protagonists. I really loved Morgana and Gwen and I loved the complexity of their characters.
One of the reasons this isn’t getting five stars from me is because the group dynamics weren’t always as fleshed out as they could have been and sometimes I found it hard to really care about their friendship. The pacing also felt a little rushed at times and revelations and twists were not always well placed, and sort of thrown in your face a little bit, Once & Future is probably a book that could have done with being longer and a little more fleshed out in general.
Overall, Once & Future is a good science fiction novel that is diverse and inclusive and is a book that I would highly recommend & I am definitely looking forward to the sequel.
Rating: ★★★★☆ | book depository