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Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, Book 2) Paperback – May 21, 1996

4.5 out of 5 stars 92 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Pendragon Cycle Series

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Editorial Reviews


"Entertains and tantalizes...an exciting and thoughtful addition to the ranks of Arthurian fantasy."--"Locus --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

An enchanting tale of love and loss, glory and grandeur, set in the twilight of Rome's power . . . where the Celtic chieftains of Britain battle to save their land from an onrushing darkness . . . In this modern classic, Stephen Lawhead presents a majestic retelling of Western literature's most compelling epic. Merlin. His golden eyes saw the shape of a world yet to be. His wisdom would light the path of the coming King. Born of a union between druid and faery, he was trained as a bard and schooled in the ways of battle. But his heart and calling were greater than a warrior's. Son of the great Taliesin, the song of his father coursed through his soul. Yet his life and mission were to be his own. And though sovereignty was his, he would lay it aside to serve a king of his own choosing. As his powers transcended those of mortal men, so, too, would his trials, his griefs . . . and the dark might of his most fearsome enemy. In the twilight of Tome's rule over the Island of the Mighty, as smaller men vied for ascendancy, his would be the hand to lay the foundations of a new order -- the Kingdom of Summer . . . and Arthur, Pendragon of Britain. Merlin is book two in the Pendragon Cycle.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (May 21, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310205069
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310205067
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,308,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen R. Lawhead is a multi-award winning author of mythic history and imaginative bestsellers. In over thirty years of professional writing he has established an international reputation and is known for such works as the King Raven trilogy, a re-telling of the Robin Hood legend; and the Pendragon Cycle, an historic retelling of the King Arthur legend.

Other notable works include the fantasy trilogies The Song of Albion, and the Dragon King Trilogies -- as well as the historical works Byzantium, Patrick, Avalon, and the works of science-fiction Dream Thief and Empyrion saga, and his latest, the five-book series Bright Empires. Lawhead makes his home in Oxford, England, with his wife.

You can find out more by visiting www.stephenlawhead.com

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
These books sold very, very well for the author in what can only be described as an impossibly crowded genre. It seems every fantasy novelist attempts, at some point, a re-telling and definitive edition of the Arthurian myth. It is the only subject more trampled and copied than Tolkien. It is also the genre that lapses in to the most astonishing absurdities. Lawhead, with these three books (Taliesin, Merlin, and Arthur) has contributed something very relevant and very new to the genre. It gives the myth a burst of idealism and Christianity not seen since Tennyson with the Celtic traditions not seen since the Mabinogion. Sadly, with the publication of the latter three--and far lesser novels (Pendragon, Grail, and Avallon) the series is much damaged and diminished. We believe that Lawhead would've been far better served to let the trilogy stand on its own where it's not so intimidating and probably would've enjoyed subsequent reprinting. As it stands, our rating for this book is slightly tarnished by these later publications and endanger the proud work of a very, very good author.


Readers who enjoyed Tolkien a great deal and who read Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, and others searching for that same idealism will come closest to finding it here with Lawhead. Readers who enjoyed Marion Zimmerman Bradley's feminized version of the legend in The Mists of Avalon will find this work operating as a kind of opposite: Bradley employing the traditional pagan religious elements and feminism while re-working the French side of the myth while Lawhead invoking Christian theology and masculinity in t the Celtic side of the myth. They are very interesting to read together. These books are excellent choices for teenagers for whom idealism is second nature.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I started out the Pendragon Cycle with "Taliesin", as was the chronological thing to do. After that came "Merlin" - and maybe it was the anticipation after reading "Taliesin", or maybe it was only the fascination I've held for Merlin ever since the first time I discovered Arthurian legend...whatever it was, I absolutely fell in love with this book.
Now that I've finished reading the cycle, I can say without a doubt that "Merlin" surpasses all others in the series. Arthur is a genius, Llenlleawg a talented warrior, Pelleas a loyal companion...but Merlin is REAL. Merlin has gifts and flaws; he has a distinct personality that makes him come to life as a flesh and bone human (however immortal). For example, I found him to be vain and more snobbish as the story progressed! He is definately one of the most well-written characters I've ever read.
After finishing this book in less than four hours, I eagerly acquired the rest of the Pendragon series, thinking that they would live up to the standard of "Merlin", if not surpass it. I should have known that such a perfect book full of plot and characterization is one of a kind. However, to my delight, Merlin's character only develops more in depth as the Pendragon series continued on. After all, Merlin's name is etched in legend...but in Lawhead's writing, he lives.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
You know, I could really dig into this book and pull out stuff like the symbolism of the hawk, and color symbolism of the golden eyes. I could give you the signifigance of the choice of diction, tell you about the underlying themes, but you don't want to hear about that. Merlin is the son of Taliesin the bard and Charis the Fair Folk princess. Merlin spends most of the year with his mother on Ynys Avallach and the summers with his grandparents in their caer training with the warriors and the bards. His father's people call him Myrddyn (pronounced Mur- then). The plot details his childhood and how he grows to be a warrior and a bard, and his life as he deals with his immortality. There are plenty of battle scenes for those of you who like that stuff, and also a bit of romance here and there for those of you who like *that* stuff. Lawhead paints realistic and vivid pictures of life in Celtic Britian. The character developement is nothing short of incredible. There are stories that you read, and then there are stories that you experience. This is one of those stories you experience. The story is so concrete, you feel yourself a part of the narrative. Words connot describe the emotions this book conjures. It is an incredible piece of literature. Read. And experience the wonder, the romance, and the battles of...Merlin.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In this second volume of his "Pendragon Cycle" series, Stephen Lawhead continues the story begun in "Taliesin" by telling the tale of Merlin, a remarkable warrior, king, bard, and prophet. Lawhead recounts his rise to kingship, his subsequent fall, and finally his important role as counsellor to kings.
The story focuses on a time of great change in early Britain, as independent kingdoms under Roman rule vanish and become united under one High King. The transition from individual local kingdoms to one great kingdom under a great king remarkably parallels a similar transition in the Bible: from the anarchy and chaos of the Judges, to the unified rule under the Kings Saul and David. Merlin's role is much like that of the Biblical Samuel: the figure who ushers in this transition by his prophecies, wisdom and counsel. The parallels don't end there - for like Israel, early Britain is portrayed as a time of prophets (the druids), priests (the Roman Catholics) and kings.
The world of upheaval in which Merlin lives is characterized by trials, tragedy and triumphs. Much like "Taliesin", the reader is treated to a vast array of human emotions described in most vivid details - from utter joy to utmost sorrow - and is subsequently tossed from the pinnacles of happiness to the pits of despair. But Lawhead does not delight in dragging his readers through gory details of bloodshed and death - in fact killing for revenge alone is presented as murder (p.314-5). Bloodshed for the sake of justice and truth has a clear purpose: the way is being paved to the "Kingdom of Summer" ruled by King Arthur where justice, truth and right will be defended and maintained (p.108).
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