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The Iron Grail (The Merlin Codex) Mass Market Paperback – December 23, 2004


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Holdstock's erudite fusion of British legend and Greek myth continues to enthrall in the second majestic installment (after 2003's Celtika) of his multi-layered Merlin Codex series. Seven centuries have passed since Merlin/Antiokus journeyed with Jason to find the Golden Fleece, and now the iconic mage, who ages only when he uses his powers, finds himself not in Greekland but in Alba (England). After an eerie brush with the Three of Awful Boding (the Fates) and a warning about a gift from Medea (Jason's betrayed wife and Merlin's first love), our hero travels to Ghostland to retrieve the children of the warlord Urtha, who is fighting to reclaim his fortress Taurovinda from Otherworld warriors. But when his enchanted ship Argo arrives in Alba, Merlin finds that Jason still is searching for his younger son, Kinos (aka Little Dreamer). Merlin accompanies Jason to the Otherworld, where Kinos has been hidden by his enchantress mother, Medea. Though Jason believes Merlin may have assisted Medea in his sons' faked murders and kidnapping, the two friends forge a truce and learn the consequences of the "corruption of love; the corrosion of hope." Haunting, intricately plotted and richly revisionist, Holdstock's blend of epic history with fantasy resonates with an authority and an audacity readers have grown to expect from this accomplished British author.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The second volume of Holdstock's Merlin Codex saga returns Merlin to Alba, the future England. He seeks the Hill of the White Bull, seat of King Urtha (i.e., Uther, perhaps). The hill has been seized, however, by warriors supernatural in origin and habits, and must be liberated. For that, Merlin and Urtha have the not always trustworthy aid of Jason, who has returned to Alba on the Argo in search of a lost son. The ensuing warfare draws heavily on the ancient Irish tale "The Cattle Raid of Cooley," but Holdstock remains a master at handling Celtic material distinctively. But by injecting into the Matter of Britain the Argo as a living ship a la Robin Hobb, and with it the classical Argonauts' story, he risks forcing overly disparate elements into an unwieldy composite. Yet his skill with myth and folklore is such that the mixture should please many, especially if Argo in future becomes a major character in her own right. Time and a third volume may tell; meanwhile, acquire the second. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: The Merlin Codex (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Fantasy (December 23, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765349876
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765349873
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,923,858 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By HistoryShowsUs on September 13, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Any fan of mythology will love this book. Brilliantly blends ancient Greek heroes with Arthurian Heroes and a Celtic backdrop. Fast moving story with larger than life characters. I wouldnt spoil the story for anyone but this is a must for any fantasy reader. The only fly in the ointment was Mr Holdstock's chronological displacement of Greek mythological events. The Argonauts came first and then the Trojan War because one of the argonauts was Peleus, Achilles father. In fact it was Peleus' wedding that leads indirectly to the Trojan war. When Eris was not invited to the festivities she cast a gold apple to the guests which was to be given to the fairest. That apple became the prize that Paris later awarded to Aphrodite in exchange for Helen of Sparta. That being said it in no way spoiled the story any more than the changes made to the recent movie Troy. I am eagerly awaiting the third book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've had the first in this series, Celtica for awhile and have read it several times.
I've been busy and only recently had the opportunity to explore the story further.
I was very drawn into the continuing tale and will continue on as the story develops.
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By J. Webster on February 28, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. Holdstock is a wonderful writter. I did like Mythago better, but highly recommend this talented writer.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Seven hundred years have passed since Merlin and Jason (see CELTIKA) searched for the Golden Fleece, but now the magician resides in Alba where he receives three warnings including one about a man who wants him dead for betrayal. Also Merlin is warned to beware of a being used by a man and a ship that is more than a ship.
Merlin travels to Ghostland to rescue the children of the warlord Urtha at about the same time that Jason sailing the Argo arrives in Alba still seeking his son Kinos the "Little Dreamer" after failing in his reconciliation with his older boy. Merlin joins Jason on his quest to the Otherworld, where the latter's wife Medea probably has hidden Kinos from him. Jason believes the Mage is assisting him out of guilt because Merlin's first love Medea faked the deaths of the sons she had with Jason. Still the Argo captain wonders if he can trust the magician once they locate Medea who may have Merlin under her spell.
Combining English and Greek mythology, Robert Holdstock provides the audience with a delightful fantasy as the audience will enjoy the exploits of Merlin and Jason as they struggle to find the lost lad. Though some of the early fantasy scenes seem unnecessary, this epic tale is exciting non-stop action especially once Jason arrives on the scene. The second Codex tale is a treat for Camelot fans and Greek mythos readers who will want to hitch a ride on the Argo as the adventures in Otherworld are fun to follow as the two heroes each know that love can blind the purest.
Harriet Klausner
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