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Children's Literature Reviews
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The lost years of Merlin
T.A. Barron.
New York : Philomel Books, c1996.
326 p. : map ; 24 cm.


A young boy who has no identity nor memory of his past washes ashore on the coast of Wales and finds his true name after a series of fantastic adventures.

Best Books:

Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1996 ; Cahners; United States
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1997 ; American Library Association; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:

Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2001 Honor Book Massachusetts

State and Provincial Reading Lists:

Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 2000 ; Nominee; Colorado
Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 2000 ; Nominee; Grades 4-8; Georgia
Lone Star Reading List, 1998-1999 ; Texas
Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2001 ; Nominee; Massachusetts
South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 1999 ; Nominee; South Carolina

Reading Measurement Programs:

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.1
Accelerated Reader Points 12
Accelerated Vocabulary

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
Lexile Measure 770

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Title Point Value 19
Lexile Measure 770


Sally Estes (Booklist, Sept. 1, 1996 (Vol. 93, No. 1))
This is the first volume in a planned trilogy about Merlin's youth, an area generally ignored in traditional Merlin lore. Barron has certainly come up with an intriguing perspective of what he calls Merlin's lost years, as told by the future wizard himself. A boy, hurled on the rocks by the sea, regains consciousness unable to remember anything--not his parents, not his own name. He is sure that the secretive Branwen is not his mother, despite her claims, and that Emrys is not his real name. The two soon find themselves feared because of Branwen's healing abilities and Emrys' growing powers, and when they are attacked, Emrys strikes out, causing an inferno that blinds him when he plunges into the fire to rescue his antagonist. Branwen and Emrys are taken in by nuns, and as Emrys despairs and heals, he discovers yet another talent--that of second sight--which enables him to embark on a quest to find his true name and heritage. His journey leads him back across the sea to the isle of Fincayra, a mysterious land "not of the Earth, nor of the Otherworld." There he joins forces with the forest girl Rhia and the heroic little giant Shim to battle the evil Rhita Gawr, whose blight is destroying the isle. Barron has created not only a magical land populated by remarkable beings but also a completely magical tale, filled with ancient Celtic and Druidic lore, that will enchant readers. Category: Older Readers. 1996, Putnam/Philomel, $19.95. Gr. 7-10.

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.)


Lost years of Merlin ; v. 1


Merlin (Legendary character)--Juvenile fiction.
Merlin (Legendary character)--Fiction.
LanguageCall NumberLCCNDewey DecimalISBN/ISSN
English (eng) PZ7.B27567 Lo 1996
96033920 [Fic]
0399230181 (v. 1)
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