The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga) Paperback – 1 Aug 1996
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An absorbing and haunting novel (Daily Mail)
A fascinating novel, a richly woven tapestry presented with a vividness that brings the characters from myth to real life (Evening Standard)
Mary Stewart, enchantress . . . an ability to evoke a situation, a mood or a season with a few phrases of prose that are almost verse (Daily Telegraph)
A perfect trip out of the present. (New York Times Book Review) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The story begun in The Crystal Cave and continued in The Hollow Hills reaches its climax in The Last Enchantment, the final story of Merlin in Mary Stewart's beloved Arthurian Saga. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The only problem is finding a book to read afterwards because I don't allow myself to read the next in a series, better to have a break.
It begins at the beginning of Arthur's reign in Dumpeldyr in Scotland, where King Lot and Arthur's wicked half-sister Morgause reign and sexual encounter with Morgause.... Following the narrative through the eyes of Merlin the enchanter,Merlin's role as Arthur's right hand man and spy at large. It covers the events of the building up of Arthur's kingdom,the struggle against the invading Saxon hordes and Merlin's efforts to contain the ambitious lords who covet the throne. Central to the novel are the wicked plots of Arthur's half-sister , and most now contend with her bastard son Mordred, who the great clairvoyant Merlin has foreseen will be the death of Arthur.
Finally the book takes us to Merlin's retreat at Applegarth and Bryn Myrddin where he apprentices a beautiful and intelligent young girl Niniane (Nimue) and finds love with her in his old age. Nimue is to be trained in Merlin's powers before Merlin retires the Crystal Cave and lives the happy life of a hermit.
The total effect creates a compelling and spellbinding epic which serves as an imposing example of the author's enthusiasm for her subject as well as an intriguing look into 5th century Britain through the author's skill
As in the earlier books, the familiar ingredients are all here: superb descriptions of places and events, in-depth character development done with honesty but also with a loving acceptance of human nature, terrific sense of pacing, interspersing lots of action with contemplative passages and that quintessential thing that Mary Stewart does so well of educating without patronising. Much as I loved "The Crystal Cave" and "The Hollow Hills", I feel that this book is even stronger as it deals with Merlin's decline and his ambivalence about the fulfilment of his life mission. Despite his stated "contentment" the ending is very sad and it's just as well that we get The Legend and Author's Notes to help us over "kleenex-time".
Quite apart from the quality of the narrative and the elegance with which some truly gruesome scenes are handled, the great achievement of this saga is that it successfully deconstructs the rather unlikely elements of the Arthurian legend and reassembles them into a believable and cohesive version of what really could have happened. In particular, the treatment of Guinevere's abduction is a stroke of genius. Perhaps less convincing is the apprenticeship of Ninian/Nimuë but this is where an acceptance of the magical element is required and, given that so much of the fantastical has been explained in human terms, I was happy to suspend belief and go with the flow.
I have just finished re-reading this book, taking my time over it, which allowed me to find so much that I had missed in my previous page-turning frenzy. This is Stewart's hallmark: her books work on different levels, as fast-moving adventures on first reading but offering satisfying depth on subsequent visits. I can't think of a better quality in a book.
The beauty of Stewart's work here, is that she ties Merlin - a character who is synonymous with magic - to a world in which, although magic features, Merlin is a man. He gets by on wit and luck as often as by magic, and is a thoroughly enjoyable character to read about. She also brings links (as close as she can) to real places and real events, making this a volume which gives you some clue as to how it might have been. Or at least how it should have been.
If you have read The Crystal Cave and the Hollow Hills, you won't be disappointed. If you haven't start there and work your way here for maximum enjoyment. If you've read the books before, then pick them up again - I just have after four or five years, and they are just as good a second time round!
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