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The Crystal Cave Paperback – Apr 24 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Canada / Fiction; Reprint edition (April 24 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060548258
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060548254
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 635 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #135,177 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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Initially published nearly thirty years ago, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave has been spellbinding readers and converting them into serious Arthurian buffs ever since. The first in a series of four books, this novel focuses on the early life of Merlin the magician, and the political developments of fifth-century Britain. Not for the fainthearted, this verbose text pays careful attention to historical details and methodical plot development.

Merlin's childhood is formed by the absence of his reticent, convent-bound mother and his unnamed and unknown father. As the bastard grandson of a local king, Merlin is the object of both envy and ridicule. His strange powers and predictions earn him greater status as a pariah, and he leaves home as a preadolescent. Returning years later as a young man--empowered by self-knowledge and magic--Merlin finds himself caught in the currents of the shifting kingdoms.

As an established classic in this genre, and the first in a popular series, The Crystal Cave introduces this familiar character with fresh sensitivity. While readers looking for the romance of First Knight will be disappointed, those happy with tight writing and a complex story line will be satisfied. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class—Daily Mail

A deft colourful . . . re-creation of Merlin's early life—Sunday Times

A fascinating story which lays a firm hold on the imagination—The Scotsman

Her style is simple yet vivid, displaying a love of words and the sounds they make, and her story is poetically imaginative—Daily Telegraph

Mary Stewart brilliantly recreates the Britain of the fifth century—Books And Bookmen

Mary Stewart lightens the Dark Ages with legend, pure invention and a lively sense of history.—New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sunchild on Oct. 3 2010
Format: Paperback
This is still one of the best retellings of the story of Merlin and Arthur. Mary Stewart opens the curtain on the real world of the time, historically researched, and richly detailed with characters that are real and emotionally true. I'm always wary of Arthurian fantasy - because so many are badly written, fluffy pieces of romantic fallacy. But these captured my historic interest as well as my imagination.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The first volume of Lady Stewart's Arthurian saga, which eventually grew to five books (although to me “The Prince and the Pilgrim” is so different as to be really a stand-alone).

Much has been written about this book and I believe all the praise to be richly deserved. Merlin has always been a favourite figure from my childhood study of myths and legends, but for the first time under Stewart's inspired treatment, he really comes to life as a very plausible historical figure. I like the way some of his most celebrated “magic” is presented as the likely product of a highly intelligent and accomplished man with a deep understanding of human nature and the daring to manipulate circumstances to suit the simple reasoning of the masses.

One of the great accomplishments of this narrative is that it creates an historically accurate and highly probable story out of all the sketchy and often contradictory accounts that have reached us. Stewart used her in-depth knowledge of the period and scrupulous research into the available historical sources (particularly Geoffrey of Monmouth's “History of the Kings of Britain”) to weave a complex but coherent tapestry that reads like a thriller. I have just revisited this book for the purposes of reviewing it and it never fails to amaze me how rich and detailed the story is and how completely it draws me in. I can taste the food and feel the texture of fabrics and wet grass. I can follow the historical events and their significance without feeling lectured to. As usual, the sense of place and human perspective are just right.

I own and have enjoyed nearly all of this author's works, but to me the Merlin saga is something higher.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the storyline and the way the narrative is written through the eyes of Merlin. If you enjoy a good fantasy book then you will enjoy this book.
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