A few months ago, Zondervan Publishing contacted me to read and review some YA books for them. One of those books was Merlin’s Blade by Robert Treskillard. I was really excited about reading this book because…well, it’s Merlin and King Arthur and Excaliber and all that great Arthurian legend stuff. It was the first book of six I picked up to read.
I have mixed emotions about this book. First, let me say I thought it was very well written, especially for a first-time author. Treskillard knows how to weave a tale and there was a great deal of research and old stories that went into the telling of this one. Merlin, Merlin’s father, King Uther and all the other players in this book were well crafted. They were ‘real’ people, people we can relate to. People we want to see triumph and others we want to see vanquished. There are all the elements of an epic fantasy tale created in the true Arthurian fashion. What threw me in this novel, however, was how Merlin was so different from the other tales I’ve read, especially how the sword in the stone ended up in the stone.
This book is told for the most part from Merlin’s perspective. Arthur is still a baby when Merlin pledges his allegiance to the once and future king. What I found difficult to grasp was that Merlin is mostly blind in this story, a wound left over from being attacked by wolves at a young age. I soon found, though, that the story took on dimension. I ended up like Merlin, experiencing his world through my other senses of touch, smell, and hearing. I think this gave me a better grasp on the settings as the trees and the towns took on new, vivid appearances usually left unseen when we rely primarily on our sight.
There were multiple viewpoints in this story but they were well done and engaging, each person’s perspective adding to the one before. Each one equally important. So many authors shy away from writing in multiple perspectives but this book is a great testament to how it can be done successfully.
The world-building is very well done. Unlike many fantasy stories, this one takes place in one town, the one Merlin grew up in. Instead of Merlin going on an adventure, the adventure comes to him, including Uther and Arthur. I thought this was a unique way to write this story and the ending is filled with the promise of greater adventures to come.
While this story of Merlin broke the mold of a young Merlin I’d read about before, this Merlin is courageous, likable, kind and noble. I also loved how he clung to his faith even in the darkest of moments when he could have so easily turned on so many occasions.
Zondervan is a Christian publisher so it is no wonder that religion plays a big role in Merlin’s Blade. I would like to say, however, that religion played a big role in Merlin’s and King Arthur’s time, so if the story is to be told in its truest form, there has to be a religious element. This was not overdone for those who may stray from ‘religious’ books. It doesn’t preach; it simply tells a wonderful story of a one of fantasy’s most beloved characters.
One of my only complaints is that the story starts off rather slow. It takes some time to get into it, but hey, it’s fantasy. The reader needs the time to know the characters and fall in love with them as their stories unfold. There were some scenes where the pace kicked up, and I have to say, I wish more of the book moved a bit faster than it did. That’s why I’m giving this book 4 stars and not 5.
If you’re looking for a great Merlin story for you or a young adult, I highly recommend this story. I can’t wait to see where Treskillard takes this story next. I know I’ll be right there, waiting to read the next installment in this Merlin series. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
From the cover:
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.
Where to find Robert Treskillard: