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 was provided with a Physical copy of the book by Rock The Boat News in exchange for an honest review. However, all the thoughts, feelings and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Trigger Warning: Violence, Audacious Teenagers and Whole lot of Sass
It’s been ages since I read King Arthur – so the Arthurian Legend was a bit hazy in my mind; but I LUURVE retellings; so the fact that we get an own voices retelling that isn’t just a fairytale, but a legend? I couldn’t sign up fast enough to review.
To all those with fuzzy memories like me; King Arthur is a legend about a King who was betrayed by the people he loved the most in the world. Trained by a wizard named Merlin; he fought for his people and did what he believed was right – though, in the end, it wasn’t enough to save him, his kingdom or his knights.
While Once & Future retains the barebones of this legend; it takes quite the creative liberties with the characters; their personalities and the setting of the plot – now, Merlin and Morgana sleep while they wait for the next Arthur to free the Excalibur; while Merlin has his job:
Nudge Arthur onto the nearest throne.
Defeat the greatest evil in the world.
Unite all of the mankind.”
This time, the Arthur’s reborn as a young refugee girl, Ari orphaned and then adopted by a couple, who were then imprisoned for rescuing her – she suffers from scars, mental and physical, from a past that she can’t remember. Along with her adopted brother, Kay, Merlin, Lam, Val, Gwen and Jordan; embark on a mission to push back against Mercer, the corporation, who now have monopoly over the universe and its resources.
This book has such beautiful representations that it made my bruised heart sing – I am not kidding guys, sexual and gender representations to respectfully asking the exact pronouns to be used to address them – all of this led to quite the inclusive and very heartwarming story that is exactly shows exactly respectful representation can be; and how wonderful role models such books can be to an anxiety driven, panic stricken queer kid who doesn’t feel accepted.
Now to the story itself – I definitely enjoyed the fast paced plot; but mostly I enjoyed the snarkiness of the interactions between the characters that actually had me laughing out loud in the most public of places. Case in point:
“A word, Ari,” Kay said, “before we get dive – bombed by Mercer?”
‘Leave the sword.” Jordan growled.
“I’m not going to stab him!”
“So I can polish it! You’re doing a terrible job. No wonder you failed in knight camp!”
“These two flunked out. I was a conscientious objector!”
“Yes, and what are you now?” Jordan asked, never fazed by Ari’s temper.
“King Fu***ing Arthur, that’s who!”
But here’s the kicker.. The timeline of the plot tends to jump around a lot, that at times, it felt I was getting a whiplash. Which means, that the climax was and did feel rushed and the build up to the sequel felt hurried – most of it, happened within a few pages; that I didn’t even get the chance to prepare myself for the ending and/the cliffhanger per say.
Does this mean that I won’t be looking forward to the next book? I definitely am; because the writing style of the authors is refreshing and quite invigorating and this is a book that should definitely be on EVERYONE’s TBR; if not for the book itself, but because this shows EXACTLY HOW REPRESENTATION SHOULD be handled in fiction (and I believe, in reality!).