The Crystal Cave Hardcover – Large Print, Sep 1982
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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 the Paperback edition.
A deft colourful . . . re-creation of Merlin's early life―Sunday Times
Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class―Daily Mail
Mary Stewart lightens the Dark Ages with legend, pure invention and a lively sense of history.―New York Times
Mary Stewart brilliantly recreates the Britain of the fifth century―Books And Bookmen
Her style is simple yet vivid, displaying a love of words and the sounds they make, and her story is poetically imaginative―Daily Telegraph
A fascinating story which lays a firm hold on the imagination―Scotsman --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Still, can't wait to read next book
Most recent customer reviews
I've read quite a few adaptations of legends based in history, and this ranks at the top of the list. Read morePublished on March 31 2005