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The Crystal Cave (Coronet Books) Paperback – 1 Oct 1983

4.7 out of 5 stars 103 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; 2 edition (1 Oct. 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340151331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340151334
  • Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 17.9 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,045,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class (Daily Mail)

Mary Stewart brilliantly recreates the Britain of the fifth century (Books And Bookmen)

Her style is simple yet vivid, displaying a love of words and the sounds they make, and her story is poetically imaginative (Daily Telegraph)

A deft colourful . . . re-creation of Merlin's early life (Sunday Times)

A fascinating story which lays a firm hold on the imagination (The Scotsman)

'Mary Stewart lightens the Dark Ages with legend, pure invention and a lively sense of history. (New York Times)

Book Description

The dramatic first novel in the classic Merlin Trilogy, set in fifth century Britain at the beginning of the time of King Arthur.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
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 learned sage of whose earlier life little is known. Mary Stewart shows Merlin to be more human, than the reader has encountered him in the other Arthurian tales. She achieves it by creating for him a childhood and parentage. In the popular myth it is believed that Merlin was a devil- begotten child, hence his magical powers. The Crystal Cave shows him a very real person possessed of heightened perceptions and extraordinary intellect, which a medieval audience, whence the original stories of Arthur stem, would very likely have equated with powers beyond an ordinary mortal. The book is an engaging and highly probable tale, beautifully written and entertaining. Mary Stewart cleverly links her story with original legend and her fresh approach makes for excellent reading. Even an adult reader well familiar with the legend will be transported to another world, one he might not have visited since his childhood days.
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Format: Paperback
The first volume of Lady Stewart's Arthurian saga, which eventually grew to five books (although to me "The Prince and the Pilgrim" is so different as to be really a stand-alone).

Much has been written about this book and I believe all the praise to be richly deserved. Merlin has always been a favourite figure from my childhood study of myths and legends, but for the first time under Stewart's inspired treatment, he really comes to life as a very plausible historical figure. I like the way some of his most celebrated "magic" is presented as the likely product of a highly intelligent and accomplished man with a deep understanding of human nature and the daring to manipulate circumstances to suit the simple reasoning of the masses. One of the great accomplishments of this narrative is that it creates an historically accurate and highly probable story out of all the sketchy and often contradictory accounts that have reached us. Stewart used her in-depth knowledge of the period and scrupulous research into the available historical sources (particularly Geoffrey of Monmouth's "History of the Kings of Britain") to weave a complex but coherent tapestry that reads like a thriller. I have just revisited this book for the purposes of reviewing it and it never fails to amaze me how rich and detailed the story is and how completely it draws me in. I can taste the food and feel the texture of fabrics and wet grass. I can follow the historical events and their significance without feeling lectured to. As usual, the sense of place and human perspective are just right.

I own and have enjoyed nearly all of this author's works, but to me the Merlin saga is something higher.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary Stewart was born to write this book, and her ability to write in such a deceptively simple style means that Merlin leaps from the pages as if he had just been waiting for a voice.
Here is the story of his childhood, a despised bastard of a king's daughter, intelligent, intuitive and already showing the signs of his natural affinity with magic guided by the dweller in the cave.
But it is also Merlin's voyage of discovery, of his real parentage, of his growing power and the destiny that will bring Arthur eventually to the throne of a real dark age's world.
"The Crystal Cave" has been for many years one of my favourite books, read again and again. Of all the versions of Merlin's story that are or have been published, this is the one that will remain with you for a very long time.
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Format: Paperback
First read this series (Crystal Cave - Hollow Hills - Last Enchantment - Wicked Day) in the seventies and it stands the test of time well.

Mary Stewart makes the best attempt I have so far read to combine most of the legends passed down to us (especially Geoffrey of Monmouth who is her main source) with such historical knowledge of the period as was available at the time. And she does it in a way that is highly readable, with convincing characters, good pace, and a version as near plausible as anything that must cover some magical element can be.

Monmouth would have voted for it.
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Format: Paperback
I was first introduced to the tales of King Arthur, whose realm is made magical by the intriguing wizard Merlin at six or seven. And in my teens I was very much impressed by the 1981 John Boorman movie Excalibur starring Helen Mirren, Nigel Terry and Nicol Williamson, starring a rather sinister and hard to like Merlin. Later I saw the more sympathetic Merlin in the highly engaging 1998 TV series Merlin starring Sam Neil. Have read Queen of Camelot by Nancy McKenzie which I loved and its sequels. The mediocre Pendragon cycle by Stephen Lawhead, the intriguing if drawn out Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, the Bernard Cornwell Arthur trilogy. and the somewhat disappointing Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalinde Miles.
Only now have I had the privilege and pleasure of reading The Crystal Cave, which was written and took the world of historical fantasy by storm for the first time 42 years ago,and has been a best seller ever since.
Together with McKenzie's Queen of Camelot this one is by far my favourite and I cannot wait to read the sequels. Intriguing, engaging, a page turner, brings 5th century Britain and the story of Merlin to life.
In the early Dark Ages Britain has fragmented into a number of kingdoms and tribal entities, as the island struggles to resist invasions by the Saxon tribes from Germany which are slowly colonizing south-east England and in the west marauders from Ireland.
The fatherless son of the Welsh princess Niniane, Myrriden Emrys - better known as Merlin faces a perilous and unwanted and dangerous childhood and on the death of his grandfather the king of Dyfed must flee for his life from the murderous plans of the new king, his uncle Camlach.
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