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January 25, 2011

Review: Merlin Books (2-3 stars)

The relatively new television series Merlin has provided a much desired need for a new fantasy series. Lovers of Arthurian tales, Lord of the Rings, and other medievally styled fantasy fiction may well enjoy this televisual revisitation to the characters and stories once penned by the likes of Thomas Malory and T.H. White. As a natural follow-on from the series, a number of Merlin books have been published by the BBC for young adults. We’ve taken a quick look at two below; you can find the rest here on at the library catalogue.

The Labyrinth of Gedref recaps an episode in the first series in which Arthur, with his manservant Merlinin tow, inadvertently kills a unicorn in the forest adjacent to Camelot. This starts a series of plagues upon Camelot in vengeance for the killing of the purest of magical beings. With Merlin and his master, the physician Gaius working together, the two must track down the mysterious and powerful druid that seems at the heart of it. It’s a quick and well-paced read, but a tad too explanatory (do we always have to talk about how good Arthur is on the inside?), but nevertheless a fun one for Merlin fans.

The Mark of Nimueh details the malicious plot of the witch Nimueh against the King and his son Arthur, and all of Camelot. Merlin’s usual awkwardness and lack of responsibility leads to his good friend Gwen being accused of witchcraft and ordered to hang. This book has some glaring errors which break the sense of medieval fantasy. For example, Gwen fixes her father a sandwich (three hundred years or so before the invention of them) and Merlin’s magic books are written out in Copperplate (not in use until the 18th century). It’s by a different author than the first, so readers of this series will find some variation between each of the novels and the style within (and the dedication to providing an authentic medieval fantasy feel).
Have you read any of this series? What did you think?

You can also reserve the Merlin DVDs on our online catalogue.


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