The Prince and the Pilgrim Paperback – 1 Aug 1996
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Praise for THE CRYSTAL CAVE:
'Vivid, enthralling, absolutely first-class'
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)
The classic Arthurian adventure, reissued with stunning new series lookSee all Product description
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The author: Mary Stewart is an English writer of romance, suspense and crime novels. This book is the fifth, loosely, in her Arthurian series: The Crystal Cave (1970), The Hollow Hills (1973), The last Enchantment (1979) and The Wicked Day (1983). The prince and the pilgrim was first published in 1995, when the writer was 79 years old!
My opinion: Nice, but not as wonderful as the first three in the Merlin Trilogy. No familiar figures from that series, except for Morgan, King Arthurs sister. The two main personages are well-drawn, the story is engaging, but I prefer the earlier instalments - which were spell-binding.
The stories of the pilgrim - a young girl accompanying her father to Jerusalem and Gaul - and the prince - a young man who has escaped from the clutches of Cornwall's wicked King Mark - run concurrently through much of the book, and come togather at the end. Both are enjoyable stories, but they do lack the magic of the early Arthurian books. There's actually very little magic here. It's more of a historical romance, with Medieval courtship values transplanted to an Arthurian backdrop in the 6th Century.
It's easy to read and has a flowing style from a writer who's been active for many years, but it wasn't a book I could get too excited about. It's very 'talky' - much of the action is reported afterwards rather than described. If you're a Mary Stewart fan, I'm sure this is for you. If you've just read The Crystal Cave and its two sequels, maybe you don't need to read this one.
Although very well written and involving the story of Prince Alexander, a nephew of King Mark of Cornwall and Alice, the Pretty Pilgrim, seems a bit peripheral to the "main" events of Arthurian tales. I did assume that this was a rather generic historical story that Mary Stewart had set loosely in the world of her earlier famed "Merlin" trilogy. Certainly, the famous characters appear rather fleetingly, though Morgan le Fey is well drawn and does feature in a relatively major role.
However, as the afterword "the Legend" makes clear, this novel is an adaption of an episode from Malory, one if the many meandering stories of minor knights that fill "Le Morte d'Arthur"'s middle books.
The precis of this episode Stewart gives in "the Legend" is accurate (even the fantastic quotation "I would liefer cut away my hangars than I would do her such pleasure".)
In fact, the novel itself is a very fair expansion and modernisation of Malory.
"Le Morte d'Arthur" is full of great stories and with this retelling we are in very safe hands indeed.
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