10 Apr 2023

Merlin's Blade by Robert Treskillard


Merlin's Spiral #1 

Genre: Fantasy/Arthurian Legend

April  16th 2013, Zondervan  

A strange meteorite.
A deadly enchantment.
And only Merlin can destroy it.

A meteorite brings a mysterious black stone whose sinister power ensnares everyone except Merlin, the blind son of a swordsmith. Soon, all of Britain will be under its power, and he must destroy the stone—or die trying.


 My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow! I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. One thing that I find with a lot of novels is that I don't really get immersed in the setting: there are often too many things that pull me out of it, or that the worldbuilding isn't that great.

Merlin's Blade though was a welcome change. It was so immersive & kept me hooked almost from the outset. I don’t know if it was totally historically accurate, but the story has that mythic and slightly mystical feel that I want from Arthurian Legends. Also the geographical setting: I really thought it was set in Wales, but its actually set in 5th century Cornwall.
To me, it just felt like Post-Roman Britain should, with local Kings and warlords, people clinging onto the last remnants of “civilization” even if that was just to keep told of power as petty tyrants and monks clinging onto scholarship and learning at the edge of a culture breaking down. There’s treacherous warbands and bards, druids and ancient treasures, miracles and magic.

The prose was well-written, consistent and even the twists made sense. The poetic parts also worked well. It is really some of the best writing I have encountered in a YA book. Some of the songs reminded me of Welsh war poems and The Gododdin: a 6th century War Poem I recently read.

The beginning felt like the old Sword in the Stone movie, but the story soon took on a more serious tone: with prophecies a battle against an evil druid threatening everything and everyone Merlin loved, and sinister powers at work behind the scenes. I liked how this author wasn’t afraid of incorporating some of the supernatural elements into the story: but he’s also unashamedly Christian. Some writers try to remove all religious or Christian elements from the Arthurian Legends, but Robert Treskillard put’s Merlin’s faith at the centre.

He is not a druid or a wizard, but rather a prophet-like figure as some of the Medieval Romances cast him: a foretold sage and wise person who will save his people through becoming a guide and mentor to the future King.

Of course, he has to grow into that role: for most of this story he is a blind blacksmith’s son who is quite insignificant. I now want to read the next two parts of this story.

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