‘Once and Future’ artfully blends sci-fi and historical fiction together


Andrea Butler

“Once and Future” by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy is a book that retells the story of Arthur and the Round Table with a futuristic twist.

It has a medieval tale, reincarnation, magic, and spaceships, as well as a plethora of LGBTQIAP+ representation among the characters.

And it all comes together in a cohesive story, which I think is an astounding feat to accomplish.

The book in question is “Once and Future” by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, and it’s about the 42nd reincarnation of King Arthur, Ari. She and her brother Kay are on the run from a giant corporation called Mercer due to their unknown vendetta against Ari. Mercer rules all human life with its monopoly on resources and has practically unlimited power.

Their lives are changed forever when Ari pulls a sword from a tree, waking up the mage Merlin, who hopes to help train yet another Arthur and break the cycle that’s lasted for centuries on end. Along with Ari, Merlin discovers new reasons to rebel against the system and protect the now cherished bonds he forged along the way.

With her friends as knights supporting her, Ari must fight for freedom from Mercer. In addition to fighting, she must also face romantic obstacles, both her own and her friends.

From the first chapter, I was blown away with the creation of a world that was futuristic yet still paid homage to the Middle Ages, a somewhat niche era that is typically forgotten in other such premises. Even though it’s unique, it may seem like the idea could be boring. However, there’s not a single dull moment in the entire book.

But, this means that not every critical aspect of the story is fully fleshed out like many sci-fi novels. There are a couple of instances the reader has to accept the ideas the book presents for the story to work.

That being said, the characters more than made up for the slight discrepancies in the setting. By the end, I fell in love with each of the characters because they were each strong in their own ways, but none of them were perfect. The mishmash of people complemented each other and made reading the book all the more fun.

I’ve read a lot of historical fiction about either King Arthur or Merlin, and this book has the best take on the aftermath of the original Merlin and Arthur. Typically, books that retell the story of Arthur and the Round Table focus on glorious fight scenes and chivalry. However, this book focuses a bit more on the human side of things, which I think made the book as good as it is.

I also love the LGBTQIAP+ representation in the book, as well as the attitudes toward that from other characters. It was fascinating to see how the different mindsets meshed with all the interactions with medieval-inspired places and people.

All in all, I highly recommend “Once and Future” to anyone who enjoys historical fiction from the Middle Ages and has the time for a wonderful, fast-paced book.

The story continues in “Sword in the Stars,” the sequel to “Once and Future,” which came out earlier this month on April 7.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email