The Crystal Cave
by Mary Stewart
Of the writing of many books about Arthur, Merlin, and the knights of
Camelot there is seemingly no end. Of their beginning, of the real people
and events that inspired them, we know little for sure. But tales of that
romantic age, drawn from the legends of Britain and Brittany, hold such a
fascination for readers today that we could lose ourselves in them, and many
happily do so.
you filled a swimming-pool with such books and jumped in, you would probably
plunge past this book or one of its companions floating near the surface
among the leading entries in recent Arthurian fiction.
The Crystal Cave unfolds as an elegant, candid memoir of the childhood and
early maturity of Merlin. The mage behind the throne of Camelot begins life
as the illegitimate grandson of the king of South Wales. His early talent
for seeing the future blossoms under the tutelage of a cave-dwelling hermit,
until the deadly treachery of his uncle forces Merlin to flee. He finds his
way across the Channel to Brittany, joining forces with the rightful high
king of all Britain, who is preparing an invasion to take back his throne.
You'll gape in astonishment at what Merlin learns under the guidance of
Aurelius Ambrosius, at how he uses his strange powers to aid in the latter's
campaigns, and at the costly bargain with magic Merlin makes to arrange the
birth of the Once and Future King. You'll squirm with suspense when the vile
tyrant Vortimer takes him captive, and later when Merlin helps Uther take
the Cornish fortress of Tintagel. Your flesh will creep as Merlin visits
Stonehenge and other sacred places, and your blood will race as armies clash
on the battlefield.
and parents concerned about occult & adult content, take note: this wizard's
chronicle summons power from several strange, historic religions, and has
some sexual content including one particularly steamy scene. The book also
has deaths that some sensitive, younger readers might find disturbing.
Merlin's narrative surrounds his most impressive deeds with a cloud of
ambiguity. You're never sure - perhaps because he isn't, either - how he did
them, who or what gave him the power. Even told from Merlin's point of view,
the book remains unclear as to whether Merlin's choices are right or wrong,
wise or foolish. I suppose you'll have to read further in the series to find
For this is Book One of the Arthurian Saga, written 1970-1995 by a British
writer mostly known for romance-mystery novels with a paranormal twist.
Inspired by the Legend of Merlin as told by medieval
historian-cum-romanticist Geoffrey of Monmouth, it comes complete with an
informative Author's Note and the text of the original Legend. Other titles
in this series include The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked
Day, and The Prince and the Pilgrim.
Recommended Age: 14+
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