Read Harder Challenge #5

Prompt: Read an anthology featuring diverse voice

My Choice: Sword Stone Table by multiple authors. Edited by Swapna Krishna and Jenn Northington.

From Amazon:

From the vast lore surrounding King Arthur, Camelot, and the Knights of the Round Table, comes an anthology of gender-bent, race-bent, LGBTQIA+ inclusive retellings.

Featuring stories by:Alexander Chee • Preeti Chhibber • Roshani Chokshi • Sive Doyle • Maria Dahvana Headley • Ausma Zehanat Khan • Daniel M. Lavery • Ken Liu • Sarah MacLean • Silvia Moreno-Garcia • Jessica Plummer • Anthony Rapp • Waubgeshig Rice • Alex Segura • Nisi Shawl • S. Zainab Williams

Here you’ll find the Lady of the Lake reimagined as an albino Ugandan sorceress and the Lady of Shalott as a wealthy, isolated woman in futuristic Mexico City; you’ll see Excalibur rediscovered as a baseball bat that grants a washed-up minor leaguer a fresh shot at glory and as a lost ceremonial drum that returns to a young First Nations boy the power and the dignity of his people. There are stories set in Gilded Age Chicago, ’80s New York, twenty-first century Singapore, and space; there are lesbian lady knights, Arthur and Merlin reborn in the modern era for a second chance at saving the world and falling in love—even a coffee shop AU.

Brave, bold, and groundbreaking, the stories in Sword Stone Table will bring fresh life to beloved myths and give long-time fans a chance to finally see themselves in their favorite legends.”

I was so incredibly excited to read this collection but unfortunately, most of it I had a hard time getting through. To be clear, I don’t think there was anything wrong with any of these stories. I found a lot of them to be very well-written and I adored the retellings of so many Arthurian tales with such inclusivity. I think part of my difficulty with this collection is the basic fact that for the most part, I struggle with short story collections. I found myself getting so incredibly bored and while not actively disliking most of these stories (I did dislike some), I never really wanted to keep reading.

I know this is not painting this collection in a great light but truly, I think it’s 80% because of my difficulty with short stories. I just recently DNF’d another short collection because I could not get through it.

Some positives:

  • The inclusivity! Representation abounds! It was really lovely. I think there is a story for everyone in here.
  • This collection is broken up into three parts: past, present, and future. I loved seeing stories set in different time periods. I will say, the stories in the “present” section were my favorite. I liked almost every story featured there.

If you enjoy short story anthologies, retellings, Arthurian legend…you might enjoy this more than I did!

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