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The Last Enchantment (Stewart, Mary, Arthurian Saga, Bk. 3.) Paperback – 1996

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449911764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449911761
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
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Format: Hardcover
The third book of Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga. As in the previous two volumes, Merlin is the narrator, picking up the story where “The Hollow Hills” left off, on the night of the day Arthur was proclaimed High King of Britain at the ripe old age of fourteen. Mary Stewart crafted each book as a stand-alone (although, clearly, they are so much better read in sequence) and so the first few pages contain a recap of the events that preceded the coronation. This makes the first chapter a little awkward but soon the action takes off and we are swept along into another 500 pages of fascinating reconstruction of the days of Arthur, Merlin and Camelot.

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.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent purchase, Thank you !
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found it capturing in so many areas of the book. The adventures of Merlin has always intrigued me so I found Mary Stewart boos gave me a closer version of Merlin life than any movie I have see,
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanted, once more July 4 2005
By Richard W Little - Published on
Format: Paperback
A long time ago, I read Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy, which consists of three books: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment. I had last read the trilogy back in the mid-1980s, back when I was in high school. So, recently I turned back to these old favorites, and found myself enjoying the tale once again.

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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merlin and Arthur lovers... Oct. 17 2007
By M. Mills - Published on
Format: Paperback
Anybody who loves tales of Merlin and King Arthur will love this book! This is the third book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga, written from the viewpoint of Merlin, it tells the tale of how Arthur came to be the legend that everyone has heard of.

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!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Ending Oct. 10 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Library Binding
The first book was good, the second book was slow, but important to the series. I was somewhat weary to pick up this last book, one reason i wasn't sure what to expect and the other was actually that i was finally reaching the end and did i really want it to end??? I didn't. This book, the Last Enchantment was by far the best. The last three hundred pages kept you wondering, whats this mean? What will happen? it seemed like the story should end in some parts even though you saw that there was a hundred or fifty pages left and knew that there was more. You grow old with Merlin throughout this triology. Something you rarely do in other triologys, but here you do and it adds alot. 5 stars and more are deserved, did i mention the discriptions are absoulutly wonderfull and vivid???
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The "Dark Ages" weren't so dark after all . . . Sept. 12 2006
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Paperback
Compared to the first two volumes of the "Merlin" trilogy, this concluding volume is a bit weak -- but it's still far ahead of most romantic historical novels. Perhaps it's because, by the nature of the narrative, Merlin must now take a back seat to the adult Arthur, the High King and a growing legend to his people. The enchanter is also growing older, the power of the gods is leaving him bit by bit, and he's relegated to undercover espionage work in the north of the country, spying on Arthur's treacherous half-sister, Morgause. Stewart does a good job of re-interpreting the legend of Merlin being shut up alive ("waiting") in his cave in the hollow hill, and, as throughout the 900 pages of the trilogy, the author displays amazing powers of description, both of the characters and of their surroundings. Give it ten years to settle into my unconscious and I shall be re-reading this marvelous epic yet again.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Audio Version is Truly Moving May 2 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio Cassette
I have just finished listening to the Chivers Audiobooks' recording of The Last Enchantment, read masterfully by Stephen Thorne. Mary Stewart's story is wonderfully written, but Stephen Thorne truly brings it to life. His reading drew me in from the start, and I knew I was enjoying the magic of a true storyteller. He brought the many characters and scenes completely and vividly to life. I know that years ago I read and enjoyed The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills, but I have the audio versions on order at the library so that I can enjoy Mr. Thorne's reading of them. In listening to Mr. Thorne read them, I know he'll bring a completely new dimension to the stories. I highly recommend both the book itself, which is beautifully written, and the wonderful reading of it by Mr. Thorne.

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