***FYI, our TBOM book discussion group for teens will be meeting on August 28th at 3pm in the Teen Room to discuss this book. All teens are welcome to join us!***
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Read by Anna/Central Teen Room
Everyone has a basic understanding of who Merlin is. Right? He was the famous wizard who raised King Arthur and helped him when he finally became king. However, what most people don’t know, is how Merlin was born and raised and how he grew into his position as king’s prophet. This first book in Mary Stewart’s series of Arthurian Saga starts us off when Merlin is a small boy, the son of a princess who refuses to reveal who Merlin’s father is. It is speculated that his father is the Prince of Darkness, a demon who came into his mother’s room late at night and left her pregnant with Merlin. Merlin is shunned as a bastard son, but fate leads him on an amazing path from learning “magic” to helping not just one king in love and war, but several. He is able to move on past his childhood. He makes friends and enemies, but always stays true to himself.
While this telling of Merlin’s life is based on a real person who lived around the year 470 A.D. (when it is suspected that King Arthur was born), in her Author’s Note at the end, Mary Stewart is quick to recognize that her work is complete fiction. There is much we don’t know about the great prophet and prince, or King Arthur for that matter. Yet that should not hinder anyone from enjoying a good story. I was enchanted right from the very first page which begins with Merlin in old age preparing to tell the story of his early years. He has an easy going manner in the way he tells his story, drawing you in and not letting you go until the story is complete. And while he is technically telling the story as an old man, you often forget he is recalling his childhood because it seems as if you are there, right beside him as he gets into trouble as a young boy, as he grows up and goes in search of his father. He is a character you cannot help but love and this is a story you cannot help but enjoy. I highly recommend this novel for those who enjoy historical fantasy, with the knowledge that Merlin wasn’t a wizard as we think of them today. He did not have a magic wand or a pointy hat. He considered himself a prophet and was never in control of his visions. He could not tell the future upon command. As long as you aren’t expecting Harry Potter, you’ll enjoy this fun read.
The 2nd and 3rd books in this series are also told from Merlin’s POV, while the 4th and 5th take place after his death. They are as follows:
Book Two: The Hollow Hills (Merlin’s POV)
Book Three: The Last Enchantment (Merlin’s POV)
Book Four: The Wicked Day (focuses on Mordred)
Book Five: The Prince and the Pilgrim (focuses on Alexander)