Taliesin – Stephen R. Lawhead

Here’s another reread – this is a five book series (The Pendragon Cycle) that I had read the first three books of back in high school, and then lost track of.  (It was originally the trilogy I read, but he then expanded it.)    I happened upon the last two used, so brought the rest out of storage to get reacquainted with the story.

This is an Arthurian cycle, but the first book is very much a precursor, a way to bring Atlantis and the Welsh bard Taliesin into the story.      In the first two sections, the chapters alternate between the stories of Charis, a princess of Atlantis, and Taliesin, the semi-mythic but historical Welsh bard.

Charis is the daughter of Avallach, one of the kings of Atlantis.     She has a touch of the sight, and she is able to save her father and some of her kin, even though barely anyone else will believe that she forseen the fall of Atlantis.     They find their way to Britain, and build the castle of Ynis Witrin – the Glass Isle, home of the Fisher King (you should now recognize Avallach’s name).    Oh, and did I mention that Charis has a jealous younger half sister named Morgian?

Taliesin is raised by King Elphin of Gwynedd, who found him as an infant in a salmon weir.    He was immediately recognized as a bard by the local druids – foreseen to be a great king of the Summerlands.    He does have many gifts, including the sight, where he at one point sees Charis, and names her the Lady of the Lake.

Charis and Taliesin eventually do meet, marry, and have a child – Merlin.    I’ll admit, that portion of the story didn’t work for me as well.    It’s probably partially because I already knew something that would happen at the end, and I think it made the rest seem rushed to me.      I also didn’t love how Taliesin converted over to the Christian faith very quickly, after a vision, which didn’t seem terribly Christian like to me.     I don’t know, that part just rang a bit weird to me.

Anyway, if you’re reading this book for the Arthurian stories, this one is a bit light on those, but it does have some important set up for some of what’s to come.


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