Book reviews / Fantasy

Once and Future

I started reading this novel in March and now it’s almost May, which probably tells you a lot about how I got on with the book.

So for those of you that don’t know, this novel was a retelling of the Arthurian legends, but through the lens of the 42nd reincarnation of Arthur. That is what sells you to read it, given that Arthur this time is Ari, a teenage girl, who is the only known resident of a planet named Ketch. The evil corporation of the universe (Mercer) had blockaded Ketch and Ari is found by Kay and his two moms.

So the fundamental problem is pacing. You have to get the knights and Merlin and the whole gang together, which is fine, but I struggled with it. I think because the relationships get a bit in the way (everyone basically fancies everyone else and that gets trying very quickly). And while the cast is lovely and diverse, they didn’t have a good enough story to make it very interesting to continue reading. It was a real struggle. The plot jumps are enormous and nothing feels particularly earned, which is disappointing. Basically it felt like the plot was a canvas to paint teen drama all over it, which as tiring.

It’s a struggle to determine who is the main character of this novel, is it Ari or is it Merlin? I know it’s probably Ari but about 95% of the character growth seems to happen with Merlin, which seems a bit bad in terms of character design.

I think the cartoonish villain was also a weak point. It was just a broad brush stroke of “MERCER BAD” and all their dastardly doing, but it basically destroyed any kind of tension. There was zero complexity and so you just knew how it was all going to end, with zero emotional build up again.

The thing that really takes the cake though, was the last chapter. At least! You’ve struggled to the end and the whole uniting humanity is going to happen. Ohh. No…a super janky, cheap, weird ass leap to follow some other aspect of the Arthurian legend. It felt enormously tacked on. Like the editor was like “we need a sequel” after not originally thinking of one. It really killed it dead for me. I am definitely not going to continue reading the series. It was a lovely idea, with an interesting mix of characters, but the plot was poor and the ending was worse.

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