Merlin. One of the most written about characters of all time. He has to be. And why not?

Merlin is a compelling character, full of mystery, intrigue, and untold power. He’s been portrayed in many different ways by many different writers – there are even a few current series right now on the market dealing with various aspects of his life and legend. And it’s always been that way. It’s a bottomless well of resources for countless stories.

merlin

When I was younger, I admired the potential of these stories, but didn’t read that many for one reason or other. Often it was the pacing, sometimes it was the language, and then, of course, other times it was because I wasn’t allowed to dwell on wizards and mystical powers. I’m older now and I have more patience and control over what I read and, with Netflix offering the BBC series, my appetite was whetted for some ancient tales.

Today, I’m talking about The Merlin Spiral series written by Robert Treskillard, published by Blink, and focused on the origin story of Merlin, Arthur, and all the legends. I’ll remain high-level to avoid spoilers and, as always, you should realize that these books were provided to me because I promised to review them. That doesn’t mean I’ve softened up or anything, just that I didn’t pay for the books. Now, off we go.

Book 1: Merlin’s Blade

Here we are introduced to Merlin as a child, a troublemaker with an already troubled past, despite his youth. His mother died when he was a baby, and he attracts wolves, having already survived a severe attack that left him partially blind. He is a devoted follower of Jesu, the Christ, the faithful son of a smith, and a faithful friend. He is very different from most other depictions of the Merlin character that I’ve encountered.

However, the crux of the story lies in a mysterious, magical rock that falls from the sky and inspires the rise of the ancient druid religion. Morganthu, who happens to be the brother of Merlin’s step-mother, leads the movement to eradicate Christianity and re-establish druidism as the dominating faith in the land. Naturally, Morganthu is a prime candidate for the leadership role. The rock has undeniable power that is real and palpable – even to the reader – and in that sense, this is a rather dark tale that pits Merlin against the forces of evil.

I have to admit, I chuckled when one of the monks decided that the best opposition to the rock would be to “Christianize” it by painting a cross on it. Mostly because I had just been thinking that Treskillard had done the same to Merlin with this narrative. Anyway, this is a gripping tale, at times a bit grisly, but I enjoyed it quite well and couldn’t wait to dive into…

Book 2: Merlin’s Shadow

The story continues and I have less liberty to discuss plot points because they would spoil not only this book, but the previous book as well. Be that as it may, this is another captivating installation in this series, one that continues to strain Merlin’s capacity for faithfulness, devotion, and perseverance. He’s faced with challenges that seem unbearable and difficult enemies. And again, it’s on the darker side of fiction, fraught with vivid details and descriptions that shape the images forming in your imagination as you read.

Treskillard does a fine job of painting tension and emotion as the story unfolds and, while those qualities can often slow down a narrative, he manages to keep the story rolling forward. (And every which direction, actually.) Again, well written, engaging and perfect for fans of fantasy, ancient legends, and the like. And by the time you finish, you will hardly be able to wait for…

Book 3: Merlin’s Nightmare

… but you have to because it doesn’t come out until next month. (I have a copy of it and I can’t wait to start reading it – neener, neener, neener).

Anyway, that’s the series and it’s a good one. My biggest qualm is that the characters seem like such a departure from what I have in mind of them already, it almost should be its own story entirely. Then again, if it wasn’t Merlin, I may not have picked it up in the first place, and therein lies the rub.

peace… love… bdg…

PS. …DARY!