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The Excalibur Murders: A Merlin Investigation

The Excalibur Murders: A Merlin Investigation [Kindle Edition]

J.M.C. Blair
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

More information to be announced soon on this forthcoming title from Penguin USA

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 745 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (1 July 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #403,474 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read! 17 May 2010
By Lis
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I ordered this book having really enjoyed the recent BBC Marlin series and fancied reading another take on the legend. This book sees Merlin not as a person of magic but merely a well read, well travelled and highly intelligent man. He has a good relationship with Arthur, though often seeing him almost childlike in his behaviour. And Guinevere is portrayed as an ambitious woman who got in over her head and now lives with Lancelot in a castle near the coast, away from Arthur.

The plot was interesting and the momentum was good, though Merlin did figure out the killer early on (as did the reader) however there was a need to keep reading to see how Merlin set them up.

Overall I really enjoyed the book and am starting on the second one this week
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1.0 out of 5 stars Not convincing 12 July 2013
By Sisalka
Format:Kindle Edition
I have just read the teaser pages for the Kindle version and I'm not convinced to buy the series or even this book. I like the idea of Merlin being an well read and intelligent scholar and not an all powerful magi. Unfortunately, the author does not deliver. Neither did the editor. If the book ever had one, he or she knew as little about writing or history as the author.

I found the characters too flat, there is no way to distinguish them from each other and their way of speaking 'sounds' not only the same but also very modern, almost like teenagers without the swearwords. The dialogue did nothing for the plot or the characters and was repetitive to an extend that I wondered if I had picked up a book for young children.
The historical background is also more than shaky. We find ourselves in a stone castle - they didn't exist in the early middle ages in England (motes and wooden forts were common), bailing wire was not invented until the 18th century and handkerchiefs a few hundred years later in the time of Richard II. These are only three examples for the glaring absence of any knowledge about the historical background the story is set in.
All of this creates a muddled background that annoyed me because I believe that an author should do enough research to produce a convincing background for his/her story. And if someone cannot be bothered to even check Wikipedia, never mind do research then perhaps set the story in a time that doesn't need copious and extensive knowledge about the era.

Conclusion: I'm not wasting my time or money as the author couldn't be bothered to 'waste' any time on character development or research.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2.9 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tries, but falls short . . . 22 July 2008
By Bret R. Wright - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Merlin is not a magician, but a scholar and a doctor who must try to solve the mystery of who killed the king's sons. This is all very well, but the author, writing under the pseudonym JMC Blair (for good reason, it turns out), has too much history to overcome to make this novel anything but irritating. In addition, the pacing of the book is off -- the first murder doesn't even happen until forty-five agonizing pages into the book.

The primary problem with this book is that it tries too hard. It tries to overcome centuries of well-established legend by breaking the characters out of their assigned personality roles. While I applaud the attempt, it just doesn't work. The author turns Arthur into a bossy, bull-headed,petty drunk; Guinevere into a spiteful shrew; and the rest of the well-known knights into either party-going ego-maniacs, or overly-pious weenies. And Nimue is Merlin's assistant? I also question the wisdom of turning Spenser's Britomart into a knight. I can see where that interpretation might come from, as the legend is vague about what Merlin told her when she visited him in his cave, but squaring off against Edmund Spenser . . . really? There are two characters that work well in this book: Morgen and Mordred. The author does a really fine job of interpreting these two, the rest aren't well developed, and the author spends a lot of time just trying to fight the stereotypes of historic precedence.

Other problems include the assumption that it's OK to use modern terminology in conversation between the characters ("Have a good workout" says Merlin to uber-jock Lancelot); a lot of exposition where dialog and action could spare the reader the encumbrance; and an overabundance of adverbs.

I have to give the author credit, though: The idea is absolutely brilliant, and it's truly a daunting task. Unfortunately, that's precisely the novel's downfall. As mentioned above, the author is forced into the position of trying to tear down the walls of conventional Arthurian legend in order to establish his own world and characters. It does this rather self-consciously and damages the actual story in the telling.

I loved the premise of this book, but the author just isn't up to the task in this first one. I truly hope he finds his stride on the next.

22 jul 08
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise; don't waste your time or money 30 July 2008
By crazyquiltmom - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
My husband knows how much I enjoy reading historical mysteries, especially the medieval sub-genre, so he was very pleased with himself when he found it among the new paperback releases at a major chain bookstore. And the fact that it was the first in a new series was a plus. However, when I started to read it, I nearly put it down because it was so disappointing.

It could be that the Arthurian legends are so well known to most readers that it was a very difficult task to devise a credible plot built around them. The author didn't even attempt it. What he chose to do instead was to write a "modern" mystery. The dialogue is 21st century, the characters are unsympathetic and poorly developed, and the plot is thin. There was no attempt to integrate life in that period of English history into the storyline; it could have occurred anywhere in the 21st century.

I compare it to those of my favorite historical mystery novelists, Peter Tremayne, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight, Margaret Frazer, Ellis Peters, Sharon Kay Penman whose novels so evoke the periods during which they occur, whose characters are so well-developed, and whose storylines are so rich. It does not compare favorably.

So, save your hard-earned money to buy and to read a mystery novel by one of these writers.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sad that trees died for this 22 July 2008
By Michael L. Maddin - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Create a mystery, set it in a castle, use names out of Arthurian legend, hope that people will buy it because Merlin, Arthur, and Camelot have a large following. Don't bog down the story with actual research, either into the well-established Arthur of legend and literature or the much murkier historical Arthur who may have existed anytime during the 2nd through 6th centuries. Make Nimue Merlin's student and research assistant, disguised as a young man because no one would figure out that a young woman is posing as an adult male. (Not a spoiler - the reader finds this out right away). Have a female knight of the Round Table.

At some point the willing suspension of disbelief crumbles under the author's relentless refusal to toss the reader even a crumb that is recognizable as anything Arthurian, legendary or historical. Although the story has people called Merlin, Arthur, Nimue, and the rest of the cast, they are not the people we know. If you have never heard, read, or seen a movie about Arthur et al., this book might work for you. However, I absolutely can't recommend it to its natural audience, those who, like me, would buy it because of the title and sub-title.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Just not quite right 26 Jan 2009
By Jacy Dennis - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book had a good underlying premise. Take well loved mythic characters like Merlin and King Arthur and write a riveting mystery. The downfall was that the people who love Merlin and King Arthur demand more historical accuracy that the author gave us. I can accept some tweaking of the character types from legend, but the author just didn't have enough middle ages atmosphere and language. The characters didn't need to run around saying "foresooth" but I just couldn't accept them talking to each other and the King in such modern conversational style. And the little details were off. Somewhere in the book Merlin says Arthur's kingdom is held together with baling wire. The middle ages did not have baling wire--its a 19th century invention.

Also the plotting of the murder left something to be desired. A squire is killed, but the other two guards in the tower are only unconscious. No one thinks to ask them what they saw. The investigation needed more clinical approaches. A rational reasonable Merlin would have gone about it more methodically. I just had trouble following the plot leaps and suspending my belief.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Premise-not much mystery 2 Dec 2008
By T. Ritchie - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I loved the premise. Murders in King Arthur's Camelot. Interesting characters. The problem is the mystery itself. it takes a while for the murders to occur and then they reveal fairly quickly who did it. I expected the usual mystery twist but there was none. Still it was enjoyable because of the characters and time period. Needs work on the mystery part though.
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