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Showing 1-10 of 94 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 211 reviews
on October 18, 2012
"Taliesin" is the first of five books in "The Pendragon Cycle". I found this retelling of the familiar Arthurian legend interesting because this book focuses entirely on Merlin's parents and the lost city of Atlantis. The author spent a significant portion of the book focusing on Atlantis to include the cities, buildings, governing system, a civil war, and a touch of religion focusing on the worship of Bel. Unfortunately, all of this was effectively thrown away when the ocean rose up to swallow the island state of Atlantis.

There were several aspects of the book that I struggled with including Taliesin's origin, the age differences between Merlin's parents, and the mix of Christianity with pagan gods.

I realize Christianity and the worship of the old gods were rival beliefs during England's rise to power in the early centuries, but I found it hard to believe a druid could worship the one true God while still using magical powers (e.g., spells, walking in the Otherwold, etc.) derived from the old gods. It seemed to be a bit of contradiction because Christianity would eschew these pagan things. I've seen and read Arthurian stories where druids, and Merlin in particular, had great magical powers, where they were shams relying on illusion and tricks, and where there were no magical abilities involved. This is the first time I've seen an author mix Christianity with magic.

On the positive side, this retelling was clean as it didn't include sexual scenes, profanity, or violent/graphic battle scenes. There were skirmishes, but they were well done as to not focus on the blood and gore aspect. There was also a bit of a love story as this becomes an underlying theme throughout the book driving Merlin's parents together.
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on February 4, 2017
The concept of this book makes it worth the read for those who like Arthurian legends, but the plot development was slow and the story overall lacked traction or complexity. This is a love story first and foremost, so those looking for a more action and adventure oriented story won't be satisfied. I was hoping that if an Arthurian Legend series was so bold as to start with Atlantis, well before Arthur was even born, that the story and immersion in myth, geography, and character would be a bit more challenging, deep, and enriched. It was not. It was fairly simple and I kept wondering when the plot would "take off." The broad concepts in this series are common to many King Arthur series, the pending external threat, the cultural and religious transitions, the rise of heroes, and are all included, and while they present drama, the writer presents these concepts as either too little, background mentioning, or too much, several exhausting pages of a character's cognitive process in dealing any particular drama. And though I only give it three stars, considering that this series has a good reputation, I am willing to pick up the next book, Merlin.
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on April 5, 2016
All of the most enduring legends and myths have roots in small kernels of truth. Atlantis, Arthurian legends, these are the stories we can't get enough of. Why? Because, the unanswered questions call out to us, haunting us. There have been other attempts at telling at fleshing out these tales, but none compare to this series, written by the modern day bard, Stephen R. Lawhead. His book, TALIESIN, is the beginning of a haunting journey back into the past, unraveling some of the mystery. Along the way, you will find magic, tragedy, joy, love, healing, and more, all woven into a fresh, yet timeless story. And, once you read TALIESIN, you'll crave more. Read it, and then read...MERLIN.
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on May 31, 2017
I love the way Christ is entertained into these stories. I am moved and inspired to read about God as love and light
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on January 12, 2013
I had some difficulty getting into this book, and struggled for the first third of the book. The chapters alternate between two separate storylines until the last third, and this can be a little disorienting. For me, jumping between storylines made it harder to connect with the characters. For a time I had to turn back a chapter to reacquaint myself with what had happened previously. Normally I would have set aside a book like this, but I kept reading because it came highly recommended. I am glad I did. The character development is in depth, the landscapes are vividly portrayed and the story really comes together in the last third of the book. The range of emotion the main characters travel through had me up late and unable to go to sleep after I finished. I will be reading the rest of this series and other Stephen R. Lawhead books.
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on April 18, 2017
amazing book should be a feature film
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on February 17, 2017
Stephen Lawhead has created a beautiful retelling of the Arthur/Merlin story. The depth of the characters and the heart breaking things that they go through make the story come alive.
I highly recommend it!
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on February 13, 2011
Overall, a pretty fun book to read. I really enjoyed being taken to the worlds of Atlantis and early Britain. Much of the story left me wanting more, and I think I am going to continue with the series and read Merlin. The one major stumbling block I encountered in the book is the role that Christianity played. While I am a Christian myself, I didn't really pick up Taliesin thinking that it was going to be "Christian fiction," which in my mind is quite a distinct and separate genre of literature. Christianity does end up playing a fairly significant role in the story of Taliesin (although you won't realize it until about 2/3rds of the way through the book), but it is somewhere between pure historical fiction and Christian fiction. Christianity is portrayed very postively and significantly in the life of Taliesin in Book Three - however, it doesn't completely take over the story like it would in a pure "Christian fiction" type of book.

When Taliesin has his major Christian conversion experience, I almost put the book down, because it just seemed really out of place and unexpected. I like the idea of weaving Christianity in some way into the story, but it almost seemed like the novel was going to become a really strong piece of Christian fiction where everyone's problems they had experienced in Books One and Two would now be cured because of their new found faith. Again, I don't necessarily have a problem with this sort of story line, it just isn't why I decided to pick up Taliesin. However, I hung in there and finished Book Three, and, while Christianity continued to play a significant role in the story, it didn't completely take over the story line such that I would put Taliesin firmly in the Christian fiction genre.

If you are expecting a pure fantasy book without any Christian undertones, this may not be the book for you. If you can accept a bit more than you might expect in a pure historical fiction novel, and a little preachiness won't get you hung up, then you might really enjoy Taliesin. I think Lawhead wrote this series to be pure historical fiction with a positive Christian element weaved into the story (which, of course, Christianity has played a huge part in shaping Western civilization, so it is not necessarily out of place). However, because Christianity is portrayed in such a positive light, the novel seems to partially wander into the Christian fiction genre without intending to and, so, may make some readers feel like putting the book down. I had this feeling at the beginning of Book Three - but, if you push through, I think you will end up with an overall positive view of the novel and probably wanting more. That is certainly the case for me.
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on July 19, 2017
I first read this book and the others in the series at least 20 years ago and several times in between since them. I now have downloaded them to my Kindle...some of the best books on the Arthurian legend I have ever read!
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on October 13, 2016
I myself am not a huge book reader, my brother is in a location where he as limited access to books, and has request for me to send books to him. As I have not personally read any of the books, its not very fair for me to comment on plot and story line. I do know he has not complained yet about any of the books so they must be good!
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