Sword in the Stars by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy (JIMMY patterson 2020)
Reviewed by Maayan D’Antonio
Ari, Merlin and their rainbow knights are back and are headed straight for the Camelot of the Middle Ages, where they must attempt to steal the Holy Grail from the King Arthur, in order to save the future from the evil Mercer Corporation that seeks galactic domination. But something is wrong, Merlin is in a…well? And where are his friends?
It quickly becomes clear to Ari and Merlin that their plan to steal the chalice from Arthur will not be as simple as they had thought back in the future. In fact, it all goes completely bonkers when they find themselves entangled in the legend—with a love triangle to boot—with Ari (having no choice but to hide her gender) taking on the role of Lancelet and Gwen becoming Arthur’s wife. Good thing Arthur is barely sixteen and is too moony-eyed for Gwen to notice her hidden, and rapidly growing, baby bump. Merlin needs to help his friends through the twists and turns none of them saw coming, while avoiding his past self, Old Merlin. Worst of all, Merlin is now rapidly back-ageing, the price for using his magic. Can he find a way to stop it before needing diapers?
Going back to the Middle Ages, a time of close-minded thinking, brings with it its own set of challenges for the characters, as they must to hide their diverse identities to be safe. A knight must play the role of hand maiden, same gender couples must hide their love. This only stresses the importance of one’s identity, driving home the point that one should feel safe being themselves no matter the time or place they live in. The characters are also not shy about critiquing the whitewashing of middle age European history, and specifically the Arthurian legend.
Capetta (The Brilliant Death, 2018) and McCarthy (Now a Major Motion Picture, 2018) have created an epic conclusion to their retelling of the Arthurian legend. The plot is fast-paced, full of adventure and plot turns, while still taking the time to give each character their moment, as a result the entire cast feels fully present in the story. Ari has come so far since Once & Future (JIMMY Patterson, 2019), she is more mature, aware and thoughtful and carries herself with honor and valor that rivals Arthur himself. Merlin too, faces many hardships as he encounters the past he has forgotten, as well as finally coming to terms with the truth about the role the Lady of the Lake plays in this narrative.
Swords in the Stars (JIMMY Patterson, 2020) continues to explore what it is that makes a family, blood or chosen. Capetta and McCarthy examine how family straddles the lines between acceptance and rejection, and the importance of creating a family that accepts who you are. Both Ari and Merlin spend so much time looking for just that, only to find it in the most unexpected people; finally, they understand that family is more than just parents and children. The further the two battle in their quest, the more they wish for an ending that includes every single member of their elected family.
Will Ari finally be able to right the wrongs of the past and the future, and set Arthur’s spirit free? Can Merlin accept that, perhaps, being a villain isn’t as black and white as he thought; that, perhaps, villains too can become heroes?
Once again, ‘All hail’ Ari and her beautifully diverse family.
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