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Celtika [Hardcover]

Robert Holdstock
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1 2003 Merlin Codex (Book 1)
Centuries before he meets Arthur, Merlin wanders the earth, eternally young, a traveler on the path of magic and learning. During his journeys he encounters Jason and joins his search for the Golden Fleece. It is a decision that will cost him dear...

Hundreds of years later, Merlin hears of a screaming ship in a northern lake and divines that it is the Argo...that Jason still screams out for his sons, stolen by the enchantress Medea and thought dead. But death is not the end, and Merlin's trek to the north leads to the revival of both man and ship, and a new quest, with new companions-to find Jason's sons.

Roving from the frozen north to the blighted island that will become Arthur's realm, from the deep forests of ancient Britain to the sun-washed shores of ancient Greece, Merlin's journey is an epic tale of mystery and enchantment. Celtika begins a retelling of the Arthurian legend unlike any other.

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

In British author Holdstock's dazzling reframing of Arthurian myth and Greek legend, a wandering, youthful Merlin who ages only when he uses his "charm" encounters Jason and joins him on his quest aboard the Argo for the Golden Fleece. Known to Jason as Antiokus, Merlin is present when the enchantress Medea kills Jason's two sons and absconds with the bodies. The Argo slips her moorings and sails off into the night, a broken ship carrying a broken man to their mutual grave. Centuries later, Merlin hears of a screaming ship in a frozen lake. Divining that the screams come from Jason, still yearning for his lost sons, Merlin struggles north, for he has learned that Jason's sons are alive. Using his jealously guarded magic, Merlin raises the Argo and the still living Jason, who gathers new Argonauts-Urtha, Ullanna and Niiv-to search for his sons. Family and loss are central to this poignant new telling of Merlin's story. And even Merlin, who for so long considered himself a solitary traveler on the pathways of magic, realizes that he's not as alone as he once thought. With this remarkable work, Holdstock, a World Fantasy Award winner for Mythago Wood (1985), more than lives up to his billing as one of the finest living crafters of myth.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Holdstock's latest mythic fantasy launches the autobiography of Merlin. It begins long before the time of the Matter of Britain, when Merlin, already a powerful mage who has sailed with Jason on the Argo, is trying to help Jason find the old ship and his two sons, who may not have been murdered by Medea, after all. The quest takes king and mage to Scandinavia to bring the ship back to life, then to Alba--England, that is. There they become comrades of a warrior on a quest for vengeance, and that plops them in the middle of the historic invasion of Greece by Brennus the Gaul. Merlin has conflicts of interest, in that he and Medea are both members of the same order of mage. Readers may also feel conflicted over whether splendid individual scenes and fine, deep characterizations compensate for a narrative so laden with mythic and folkloric references that it is hard to follow. But Holdstock has justified staying with him before, and he has more of Merlin's adventures in the offing. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read Feb. 8 2004
By S Hicks
Just finished Celtika by Robert Holdstock....a excellent read with a new twist on the story of Merlin and Jason (from Golden Fleece fame). If you're a stickler for keeping true to the old myths you may not like it, if however you like seeing tales told from a different perspective go for it. Takes you to a magical world 700 yrs after Jason's famous quest. Great cast of characters.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A FLAWED ATTEMPT AT AMBITION Jan. 30 2004
By A Customer
Out of the gate this book fails because of the first-person narration by Merlin. This style is very constricting since characters can only appear if Merlin encounters them. One reviewer mentioned that Holdstock is writing for the "well read" crowd - this is a true statement, but that does not mean the "well read" crowd is going to like this or appreciate what Holdstock is trying to accomplish, and that is mix the myths so to speak. His writing style is so surreal that at times it is easy to lose the pace of the story - this is compounded by the multiple complications of mixing Greek Gods with Arthurian and Norse legends. The problems of geography notwithstanding because Holdstock has conveniently created "The Path," which Merlin walks, apparently for eternity, allowing him to transverse great amount of distance is short periods of time. The fantasy aspects of the story also fail to impress - for those of you who enjoy fantasy you will recognize the fault of making nearly everything possible - no rules at all (remember the old Batman utility belt?).
Back to the narration, there is so much of it that hardly any dialog is written. The obvious problem with that is nearly zero character development - Merlin explains and describes and things happen around him and a gigantic host of characters pop in and out.
I appreciate the attempt at something different, but I was not fooled by Holdstock's attempt at literary fantasy. One star for an original idea and one star for the really cool paperback cover art.
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The words read as natural as the spoken word, there is no complaint there. Even mixing Greek and British legends/lore went smoothly and made the story interesting by association. But I was highly disappointed in the binding of these legends he brought together. The story was weak and not conclusive (leading to future books) and his portrayal of the great legends was poor.
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