May 29, 2012

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Title:  The Crystal Cave
Author:  Mary Stewart
Format: HC
Pages:  519

Genre: Fantasy / Historical Fiction
Publisher: William Morrow, 1970
ISBN-13:    Pre ISBN
Series: Merlin, Book 1

Favorite Quote:  Do you think Uthur is a King, Cadel?  He's but a regent for him who went before and for him who comes after, the past and future King.

Synopsis (PBS):  A big novel of sheer enchantment, this is the story, told by himself, of Merlin, man of magic and eventual guardian of King Arthur.... — Almost everyone knows Merlin as the dark brooding figure mysteriously associated with Camelot and King Arthur's court. — But who, really, was Merlin? Was he the enchanter of fairy tales, the magician in the black robe and pointed hat and wand? Or was he the king and prophet of old legends of Brittany and Wales? How did a man reputed to be the bastard son of the Prince of Darkness, and condemned to death as a child of the Devil, become the chief architect of the first united Britain?

Mary Stewart's answers to these provocative questions form a spell-binding novel that catapults the reader into fifth-century Britain- a land uncertainly emerging from Roman rule and divided by conflicting loyalties, political and spiritual; a land riddled with rumor real and planted, and spear-alert with superstitious fear.

Into this strange world was born Merlin, bastard son of Niniane, daughter of the King of South Wales, and an unknown father. The novel opens in Wales when Merlin is seven, and closes in Cornwall, at Tintagel, with the begetting of Arthur.

Mary Stewart is one of the most widely read novelists writing today. Her great gift as a story-teller, her enviable flair for making places and action come alive have never been more clearly defined than in The Crystal Cave.

This is not a story to be read once, however eagerly, and forgotten. Its imaginative truth will stand the test of time.

Review:  One of the best Merlin stories I've ever read.  I applaud the fact that it is both believable and magical.  The characters are fabulous.  Old Britain is described in almost painful detail.  It is really almost perfect, although I admit I'm a sucker for anything related to Merlin and King Arthur.

Rating:  10 / 10

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