Merlin has been a prominent figure in mythology for centuries, with many versions of the character since medieval times, and as such he has become a common name, a prominent figure in the Arthurian mythos. However, while much has been written about his adult life, very rarely do his authors discuss his teenage years. This is what Baron wishes to explore in his series.
The first novel, quite predictably, begins with his early childhood. From the very first page, the novel feels fantastical. It has the perfect opening atmosphere for a novel about one of the most famous sorcerers in modern mythology. This is the perfect book to read on a break; it’s a fast-paced and a very easy, engaging read, and a perfect departure from the heavy reading at university.
As engaging and vibrant as the story is, it displays several familiar fantasy. For example, in the book, there is an evil king poisoning the land, and can only be vanquished by an unknown hero. It brings to mind The Lord of the Rings, and many other fantasy epics. Of course, this is not to say that the author copied Tolkien in any; however, the novel does display some common, and frankly tired and overdone, themes throughout, and as much as I loved the book I think that it could have done without those elements.
To push aside the story for a moment, there was a moment in the book that stood out to me. Early on, two characters were having a conversation about their dying world, and how they came to be in such a state. At some point during the conversation, one of them says that it was so gradual and discreet that no one paid attention to what was happening, and those who opposed what was happening were silenced or ostracized. The same character also said that everyone was responsible for the downfall of their land in some way, since all of them did nothing or ignored the ones that did. I see a parallel in the U.S. in the years before 2017 – hopefully the year that political engagement has finally taken hold – when we ignored the simmering racism and xenophobia and pretended there was nothing wrong. When the rantings of the man who would become our leader were ignored as fringe. Maybe like the character in the book, we should all recognize that we are in some way responsible for this situation. Maybe we’re all responsible for this disaster whether we voted for it or not.
Overall, the novel is fantastic. I was a little put off by the overused tropes, but it doesn’t detract from the novel enough for me not to enjoy it and want to read the next book. Of course, it’s a shame that I can’t even read a fantasy novel without the mess in the States imposing on the reading experience. I miss the fact that five years ago you could shut off the television and actually know that everything wasn’t a complete disaster. But perhaps this intersection of literature and the real world is the point.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!