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Judy Silverman (Children's Literature)
This book traces the legendary wizard's life from the moment he finds himself washed up on a beach with no memory of his past. He's even lost his name. He's picked up by Branwen, who wants him to believe he's her child. He finds his way to the magical island of Fincayr, where his powers are tested. By hard work and great good fortune, he finds all that was lost. This is a good read for older children and adults who haven't given up the magic of Arthurian legends, and a great read-aloud for younger kids. 1996, Philomel, $19.95. Ages 9 up.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1996)
Barton (The Merlin Effect, 1994, etc.) transforms the early years of the mythical wizard's life into a vivid, action-filled fantasy, replete with deep forests, ruined castles, and evil spells: a promising first installment of a projected trilogy. Although Emrys, 12-year-old son of Branwen, has fantastic powers, he is also a charismatic and sympathetic character; many readers will no doubt empathize with his self-pity, awkwardness, and the tense relationship he shares with his mother, a witch. But Barron never forgets his hero's destiny, and so when Emrys defends his mother from the flames of an angry mob by telekinetically burning the town bully, he leaps into the fire to save the boy and loses his own eyesight. Recovering in an abbey from his burns, Emrys develops second sight, vows to never again use his powers in anger, and sets out to learn his destiny. Along the way, he meets Rhia, who is brave, intelligent, and resourceful, and who enlists his aid in the war that forms the final steps toward adulthood that Emrys--now Merlin--takes. While Barton is careful to show that Merlin is still physically a boy, readers are left with a vision of a more confident, compassionate hero, prepared to confront the joys and sorrows that await him in future volumes. 1996, Philomel, $19.95. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this coming-of-age fantasy, Barron (The Merlin Effect) investigates what he perceives as the mystery of the great enchanter's little-mentioned childhood and adolescence. Merlin himself narrates, at first in realistic mode as a child called Emrys in a grubby village in Wales, where he had washed ashore five years earlier; he is haunted by his inability to remember his earlier life. After some misadventures when his supernatural powers develop, he decides to set about "finding my past, my identity." Somehow he makes his way across the ocean to Fincayra, a strange place not quite of this world. There he gets drawn into a great conflict between good and evil, and the story mutates into a high fantasy quest populated by weird and mythic creatures. This part of the tale draws heavily on the Welsh Mabinogion; some of Merlin's adventures thus resemble Taran's in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, which also uses that body of legend. Merlin learns of his Fincayran birthright, but in the clumsily handled conclusion he looks off into the future (and to the planned sequel), having decided that although he has found his past and his identity he has not found his "true home." Some readers--mostly teens or adults--will be looking eagerly with him. Others may find this attempt to create a biography for Merlin less of an organic novel than a showcase for the author's deft recycling of Welsh myth. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.B27567 Lo 1996
0399230181 (v. 1)|