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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging re-telling of the life of Merlin
The Crystal Cave is one of a multitude of fictional works pertaining to the times and life of the legendary King Arthur. It differs from the others however, in that it focuses on the life of the great enchanter Merlin, who although intrinsic to the legend, rarely is considered by authors as a principal character of their stories. Generally, Merlin is presented as a...
Published on 4 July 1999

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3.0 out of 5 stars Classic, but flawed to modern eyes.
The body of Arthurian myths has been a staple of fantasy, since the genre's earliest beginnings. Everyone has read at least one Arthurian book or seen Disney's Sword in the Stone and some of the genre's best known tropes can be traced back to the legend of the once and future king. Stewart takes a novel approach to the Arthur legend, by focusing on Merlin. While not the...
Published 18 months ago by W.M.M. van der Salm-Pallada


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Merlin from boy to prophet... and it's actually quite believable..., 5 Feb. 2008
By 
Robbie Swale - See all my reviews
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Mary Stewart's much lauded Merlin Trilogy starts here. As a regular reader of fantasy novels, and a sucker for King Arthur and everything related to him since I was little, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the trilogy, and in particular the Crystal Cave.

Stewart takes on the unenviable task of making a character of extreme legend - Merlin - and focussing a story on him. The reason it works comfortably and entertainingly is that she works in interesting bits of history with the legend. She looks for the links between the legend (based on older versions of the Merlin stories) and facts. You still have to suspend your disbelief, and Merlin still works magic, but he is also an engineer and a mathematician. Overall, he's clever, brave, lucky, and a little blessed by the gods.

The Crystal Cave follows Merlin from childhood through a number of the famous early episodes of his life - such as the dragons under Vortigern's fortress. It adds some twists and turns, and a little humour. It links him with a variety of powerful figures from the time's history, and shows us of course all sides of being a young prophet and wizard!

I can recommend this novel. It is not a rip-roaring blockbuster, but it moves on with purpose and a good deal of interest. And there are scenes here that are as vivid and engrossing as one can hope for in a novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy addition to the Arthurian legend..., 15 Aug. 2013
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C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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There's something about the Arthurian saga that can survive so many retellings, so many different tales and versions and angles, and still remain fresh and alive. I suppose there's a reason the legend has lasted for so many hundreds of years. Mary Stewart's Arthurian quartet, of which this is the first, is a worthy addition to the collection.

That said, Arthur is not the focus on this book - indeed, by the close of the narrative Arthur is not even born yet, although the entire book is about his coming, about the events that culminate in his birth. The focus is very much on Merlin, his upbringing and education in Wales, his development as a 'magician', prophet and soothsayer, his parentage, and role in the battle for Britain. This is not the classical Merlin of myth and legend, weaving magic and spells - Merlin's magic is more the ability to see the path of events to come and react accordingly.

I have read this book before, many years ago, so long ago I can hardly remember reading it all, but I never ventured on to the other books in this series. And now, re-reading this, I look forward to the next installment!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A magical series!, 20 Nov. 2013
Like many fans, I first read this series too-many years ago,and was delighted to quite recently find it re-published.

This fascinating story in the hands of Mary Stewart becomes a tale of history, myth and magic, beautifully expressed. It's her very mode of expression that adds to the telling of this, and her other stories. Mary Stewart is also a poet, and it shows in her novels.

May she gain legions of younger fans to keep her name in print and enjoyed, for many years to come.

Step into her world of magic ...
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3.0 out of 5 stars Young Merlin, 6 Aug. 2014
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Dr. Berenice Muir "Lady Muir" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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A well written narrative with interesting insights into the times, albeit highly imaginative as records of the time are sparse and tend to be written many years after the events. Other reviewers have gone into considerable detail so I will not repeat what is said in some quite detailed accounts. However I will say that I did not warm to this Merlin and felt particularly unhappy about how his part in the seduction of Ygraine was portrayed. I was left feeling it was all a terrible waste.
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5.0 out of 5 stars We both enjoyed it. Mary Stewart's style is poetic, 22 Jan. 2015
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My teenage son and I raced through this book at the same time, on our respective kindles/tablets. We both enjoyed it. Mary Stewart's style is poetic, but not florid, and she has a great gift for putting the reader into the period. Rather than piling on 'period' details, her narrator (Merlin) just transports the reader back in time. My son has already finessed the whole trilogy, and loved all three.
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5.0 out of 5 stars You will want to read the rest of the trilogy., 7 July 2014
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I bought the Kindle edition because my paperbacks are falling apart from re-reading. Set in 5th century Britain, it is the story of Merlin's childhood and his going out into the world, told in the first person. The story is exciting and mystical, the characters are wonderfully drawn and the sense of time and place are vivid.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merlin Emrys, 22 Jun. 2014
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excellent story. Well written. A good slant on an old well known legend . I like the connection with Ambrosius
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, 15 May 2014
When I read these books first, I was a young girl, and they kept me reading until the wee hours, fitfully turning page after page so I could find out more about Merlin and his world. For me, they evoked a highly realistic Britain, caught in the Dark Ages after the Romans left our shores, filled with smoke and sorcery. They are still, in my opinion, the best books written about the Arthurian legend available, and if you want to be swept away to a land of dark imaginings, then this is truly Avalon.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Merlin's story, 27 April 2014
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Having read a number of books about Arthur and Merlin et al, I still think this is by far the best. T' good to be able to buy the trilogy on kindle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I have all these Merlin books in paperback, 26 April 2014
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Janet (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Such a joy to be able to read them on Kindle.

What to say about the story? Just simply excellent, breathtaking storytelling from an accomplished writer.
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The Crystal Cave (Coronet Books)
The Crystal Cave (Coronet Books) by Mary Stewart (Paperback - 1 Oct. 1983)
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