Merlin – Stephen R. Lawhead

Here’s another technical re-read, from back in my high school days.     It’s the story of Merlin, from childhood, to when he claims the baby Arthur from Uther Pendragon.

In this series, Merlin is the son of the bard Taliesin and the Princess Charis of Atlantis, daughter of the Fisher King.     He is foretold to be a king, and in his younger days, he rules alongside his step father as king of Dyfed.      The death of his wife and unborn child drives him mad, and he disappears into the forest for a number of years.     When he emerges, he is no older, but many of his companions have died.      His legend has grown, especially when people see he has not aged.

A young man named Aurielus is shortly to become High King of Britain, and his younger half brother Uther is the chief of his army.     Anyone familiar with Arthurian legend knows where this is going.

The first thing I noticed is how Christian this book is.     Not in a modern sense, but Merlin is firmly a Christian from birth, despite also being prophesied by the Druids to be their king.     It’s an interesting take on things – certainly a way different view than The Mists of Avalon, for instance.

The other thing is that I really didn’t get a sense of Merlin as a man.     He’s a young appearing man.      And his life before Uther seems quick.      (I suppose the fact that he’s mad for a good portion of it helps.)     I just don’t get a good sense of deep-seated power from him.    I suppose this Merlin is born to his power, but I feel like I need to understand better where it truly comes from, and this story left me lacking.    Still, it’s a good transition to the next book, called Arthur, so you know exactly where the story is headed.

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