Mini Review – The Crystal Cave

Author: Mary Stewart

Publication Date: January 1, 1970

Print Length: 494 pages

Read Date(s): August 22, 2021 – August 25, 2021

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Goodreads Synopsis

Fifth century Britain is a country of chaos and division after the Roman withdrawal. This is the world of young Merlin, the illegitimate child of a South Wales princess who will not reveal to her son his father’s true identity. Yet Merlin is an extraordinary child, aware at the earliest age that he possesses a great natural gift – the Sight. Against a background of invasion and imprisonment, wars and conquest, Merlin emerges into manhood, and accepts his dramatic role in the New Beginning – the coming of King Arthur.

My Mini Review

I have wanted to read this book and its sequels since my high school years when I was obsessed with King Arthur. So, it’s been on my TBR for an incredibly long time (let’s not talk about exactly how long) and has topped my Goodreads Want To Read shelf since I started my account back in 2016. I’m happy to be able to say that I’ve crossed it off the list, and, for the most part, it met my pretty high expectations while also delivering a story I didn’t expect at all. I went into this thinking it would be another run of the mill King Arthur tale, but I was really wrong. First of all, this book follows the story of Merlin, rather than Arthur, from the time he was a small boy until he helps Uther father Arthur. However, the Merlin of this story was not the usual mystical wizard but instead was a boy with great intellect and maybe a touch of the sight, who learns to harness his skills and some small tricks to his advantage. These skills, and his secret parentage, ultimately lead him to be a major player in the conflicts of kings. Throughout most of the story, Merlin was somewhat of an outsider due to his neurodivergence and encountered a great deal of obstacles that I enjoyed watching him overcome in some incredibly inventive ways. The book also realistically portrays what life would have been like in the time of the early Dark Ages, a fairly volatile and unsteady period of transition after the Romans left Britain. In general, I enjoyed the grounded realism of this book and its ability to explore these mythical characters in a more human way. The only thing I had some trouble with was the pacing of the book. It was slow and deliberate with a writing style that reminded me of a history textbook at first. However, once I became accustomed to it, I grew to enjoy it, but I’m sure others might not. Overall, I enjoyed this more approachable take on the character of Merlin, and I look forward to seeing where the series goes next. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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