The Last Enchantment Paperback – May 6 2003
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A fascinating novel, a richly woven tapestry presented with a vividness that brings the characters from myth to real life―Evening Standard
Mary Stewart, enchantress . . . an ability to evoke a situation, a mood or a season with a few phrases of prose that are almost verse―Daily Telegraph
An absorbing and haunting novel―Daily Mail
A perfect trip out of the present.―New York Times Book Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Publisher
If you haven't read Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga, you don't know what you're missing. They are must reads for any romance reader, for any lover of Arthurian legend, for any history buff, for any voracious reader, and may be the books to get non-readers started. Basically, they should be read by everyone! Mary Stewart's research for these books is phenomenal. Her understanding of myth and its relationship to fact is remarkable. The books are complex, yet incredibly inviting and you will absolutely love the characters. They also weave together so beautifully that you won't be able to read only one. Two things I find particularly interesting in this series is the portrayal of Arthur and the fall of Camelot. Arthur represents all of humanity in these books as opposed to the more mythical figure you usually see. And the fall of Camelot is more internal rather than external--more about the passions and lusts in the heart rather than a more obvious loss of power. The books go in this order: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, The Wicked Day. Shauna Summers, Senior Editor --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
As in the earlier books, the familiar ingredients are all here: superb descriptions of places and events, in-depth character development done with honesty but also with a loving acceptance of human nature, terrific sense of pacing, interspersing lots of action with contemplative passages and that quintessential thing that Mary Stewart does so well of educating without patronising. Much as I loved “The Crystal Cave” and “The Hollow Hills”, I feel that this book is even stronger as it deals with Merlin's decline and his ambivalence about the fulfilment of his life mission. Despite his stated “contentment” the ending is very sad and it's just as well that we get The Legend and Author's Notes to help us over “kleenex-time”.
Quite apart from the quality of the narrative and the elegance with which some truly gruesome scenes are handled, the great achievement of this saga is that it successfully deconstructs the rather unlikely elements of the Arthurian legend and reassembles them into a believable and cohesive version of what really could have happened. In particular, the treatment of Guinevere's abduction is a stroke of genius.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Here's a brief background of the story, without spoiling it too much for potential readers. England is suffering under fractured leadership following the departure of the Romans, some time before. England is broken up into several small kingdoms, with a High King to hold them all together, and to try to repell the Saxon threat already encamped on the shores. Into this time, Merlin is born, the bastard child of a local princess. The trilogy tells the tale of his life.
In the first book, Merlin is first a small boy in Wales, where he finds his tutor in magic and the gods and medicine, and is touched by the prophecy which will shape his whole life's work. He flees Wales, for his own protection, and his subsequent actions inexorably lead to the conception of a child: Arthur, the future High King.
In the second book, Merlin is charged by both the High King, Uthur, and his god to keep Arthur in his care, and to train him for his coming challenges. The story closes with Arthur assuming the mantle of leadership, following the passing of Uthur.
In the third book, Arthur and Merlin work to end the Saxon threat, found Camelot, and close with Merlin's final destiny, as he had long since foreseen...almost.
The tale is told in the first person: Merlin. In this fashion, the story feels personal in a way that few other Arthurian fantasies ever have. Merlin, the character, is a sympathetic one: he has good in his heart, he looks after his mission in life with care and humility, and he certainly doesn't buy into this "Merlin the Enchanter" crap circulating about England...though he's not above using it to his benefit from time to time. The other characters in the story are also fleshed out with care...and the characters are certainly not one-dimensional or static.
The storyline is clearly grounded in historical "facts", as much as possible. Clearly Mary Stewart put some time into research, before beginning the writing of this tale.
The writing style is very descriptive. In some novels, the description is somewhat threadbare, willing the reader to fill in the look of the setting to some extent with their own imagination. It's a perfectly valid writing style, and I've enjoyed many books written with that style. Here, however, Mary Stewart has sought to ground us, again, in a historical setting, and she puts a lot of attention into describing the setting so as to help with that grounding process. It's very effective.
So, with the close of the tale, I feel somewhat saddened. Merlin became like a friend. So, I encourage other readers to pick up the challenge, and read the Merlin Trilogy, so you can be touched in this way also.
Unlike many tales of Merlin it is not a fairy tale of unbelievable magic rather it is a brilliantly written story of a man who is extremely powerful, intelligent and gifted, who has a vision of a united Britain and has found the one person who can fulfill this dream, Arthur.
Based on the Legend of Arthur it is rich in detail both of character and landscape, and genuinely takes the reader back in time to the days of chivalry and Camelot!