By Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy
“This time, Excalibur chooses her.”
I finally watched Merlin last year. Yes, the BBC version that ended forever ago. Ever since I’ve been hooked on all things Arthurian. When given details about Once & Future, I audiably gasped. This was the book I had always wanted, yet didn’t know I needed.
What I loved most of all was the fact that this was not just a straight retelling; in more ways than one. Yes, its gender bent but with the added element of reincarnation. It was something that reminded me about a play I’d seen in the Globe in which the King in charge of the Crusades was given a second chance and the oportunity not to make the same mistake twice.
Having Arthur as a woman seems a quick and easy way to put a new book out there. However, it adds so much more to the richness of the tale than that. Ari is not just a gender bent icon. She’s her own person first, with a back story to make anyone weep. She’ll steal your heart and mend your soul while giving you grief.
It’s Merlin’s arrival that brings me the most joy. He is a beautiful character and, for me, the scene stealer from his first arrival. His predicament, his old soul and waining hope is everything you need to wish you were at his side.
Gwen and the knights are stunningly original and powerfully rich in prophesy and lolyalty. You couldn’t have a story without them. Each character is given development, humour and heart.
The story is hot, sexy and unapologicetcally cool. Representation is accounted for, not in some PC checkbox excercise but something so very organic and meaningful. No one is given a label without purpose. Correction, no one is given a label. Gender and sexuality is so freely represented and commented upon that it will keep me, and any reader, happy for many months to come.
The only thing that makes me more intregied is the books final act reveal that will very much change how this organic social structure is considered in the sequel. Something I am very excited to get to.
The writing is flawlessly engaging. Drama, emotion and action are all presented in smooth and clear ways that will have the reader begging for the follow up the second they finish this first installment.