The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga, #2)
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The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga #2)

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  14,426 ratings  ·  293 reviews
Merlin's father is Aurelius Ambrosius, the Roman war leader, Uther Pendragon's brother, making Merlin Arthur's cousin. Merlin's 22 when the book opens the morning after Arthur's conception. The pregnancy has taken place as a result, not of shape-changing, but of ordinary human disguise & misdirection. Duchess Ygraine is said to have known who she was mating with &...more
Paperback, 475 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Eos (first published 1973)
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Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
206th out of 4,021 books — 17,362 voters
The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Once and Future King by T.H. WhiteMary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy by Mary StewartLe Morte d'Arthur by Thomas MaloryThe Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Best Arthurian Fiction
37th out of 323 books — 1,137 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jim
An excellent follow up to The Crystal Cave & beautifully read. It's the same in style & tone, too.

I want to call this 'old school' fantasy. There is no graphic sex, violence, or even any flashy magic, but there is an aura of mystery & pomp that permeates the entire story. There is a hard core of realism tempered by spirituality that defines the world & the magic. The descriptions are lyric, too. A fantastic break from the current style of writing & yet not boring at all. In...more
Layton
These books are so beautifully written. Is it bad, being as how it's called the Arthurian Saga, that I'm bummed the next one is going to be more about Arthur and less about Merlin?

Favorite quotes:

387. "Everyone knows the King's unchancy to cross. But you just looked cold as ice, as if you expected him to do what you wanted, just as everyone does! You, afraid? You're not afraid of anything that's real."
"That's what I mean," I said. "I'm not sure how much courage is needed to face human enemies-...more
Cara
Others have reviewed this book at great length, so I'll just focus in on what has stayed with me since my first reading (I've read this series multiple times): the relationship between Merlin and Arthur. In so many tellings of this tale, Merlin appears only at the beginning--to prophesy Arthur's coming, to teach him and prophesy his death, and then to disappear. Arthur may mourn the loss of a guide/teacher/enchanter, but the relationship between the two is not as important as Arthur's relationsh...more
Mark ~ Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
The sword in the stone Mary Stewart style- absolutely brilliant! I loved the way that this very famous part of the Arthur saga was dealt with in such a totally believable way.(view spoiler)...more
Landon
Sometimes it is the later books in a series that really bring the whole thing together. This is definitely the case when it comes to The Hollow Hills. The story doesn’t exceed The Crystal Cave, in fact, I would say the Crystal Cave is by far the more interesting novel, but I firmly believe that The Hollow Hills takes the story of Merlin, and makes it a legend. I think that it is this novel that makes me think back to The Crystal Cave with a smile, because the happenings of that novel are constan...more
Terence
The Hollow Hills is the second book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian saga and covers the fifteen years between Arthur's birth and his acclamation as High King as experienced by Merlin, who spends much of it avoiding the limelight and traveling to Asia Minor and Constantinople. In a word, not taking a role in Arthur's life whatsoever until a few months before the boy's acclamation.

Which is the primary problem. We can't engage with either the chief character of the novel or with his ostensible ward. We...more
Ruth
Loved this book. Written by Mary Stewart (1916) and first published in 1973 with Arthur and Merlin as the main protagonists. This story covers the time from the birth of Arthur to the time that he gains the throne. Not much wizardry or fireballs but a great retelling of the legend. "In that night lashed by storm and brooded over by the dragon-star, death had seemed commonplace, and gods waiting, visible, at every corner". So well written with striking imagery and well crafted metaphores and simi...more
Cindy
I remember the Hollow Hills as one story with the Crystal Cave, so I repeat my review. This is a sequel that will not disappoint.

Before the Lord of the Rings, there was Arthur—Arthur and Merlin, Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Arthur and Camelot. I had seen the movies Sword in the Stone and Camelot, read T. H. White’s Once and Future King, and other accounts of Arthur and the Knights, including translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight—but my very favorite of all these stories...more
Lightreads
Sequel to The Crystal Cave. This one introduces Arthur and takes us up through the events of his coronation. I'm still stuck on these questions of man and God, power and destiny, but I want to hold off until I'm done with the series. Except to say that I personally find man-made so much more compelling than God-made, even though God-made is dazzling and extraordinary. Destiny is such a cheap storytelling trick (yeah, you too, JKR) and
Stewart conducts a razor dance of intention and fate and volit...more
Tristy
The Mists of Avalon ruined any other Arthur legend tales for me. I know this is a famous and well-loved version of the story (written by a woman, even), but it's just too Christian and patriarchal for me.
Lara
Mm. I could literally roll in Stewart's writing. Seriously. Like a dog. It's just... the setting of it all is so rich it's like Middle Earth. Only, er, real. Sort of. And not quite as gorgeous and fantastic - but close.
Janne Varvára
Having read two now, this was perhaps not the absolute revelation that Mary Stewart's first Merlin book was, but man, this too is very, very good.

Like the first, it has a distant, poetic view, that somehow (don't ask me how) manages to bring the characters closer to the reader, instead of the other way around. I keep being astounded at how effortlessly she makes these literary paintings of man, nature, kingdoms where an ever-present spirituality weaves through it all.

I have always had a problem...more
Jesse
I love historical fiction, and this is a great read if you are interested in the Arthurian legend as a subject.

First, I must say that this doesn't really qualify as historical fiction since Stwart states that she used a notoriously unreliable resource for entertainment value. And it even strays from what I know of the legend from other "entertaining" sources (T.H. White and Sir Thomas Malory). BUT, where Stewart really excells is taking the legend and puting it into a frame that is explainable w...more
Becky Ginther
This book was a sequel to The Crystal Cave. It many ways my opinion about the two books is very similar. Like the first one, I felt that The Hollow Hills starts out really slowly, and doesn't pick up much speed or get all that interesting until you are more than halfway through it.

Though this series is about the life of Merlin, Stewart doesn't exactly give Merlin the most exciting life imaginable. Though he does travel, he also spends a good deal of time on his own, in his cave or living as a he...more
Caroline
It's a testament to Mary Stewart's skill as a writer that this second installment in her Merlin trilogy doesn't flag or fail at any point, despite the fact that, arguably, not much happens. This book covers the years from Arthur's birth to his acclamation as High King, years spent in obscurity at the court of Ector, years most retellings of the Arthurian legend skip over in a few paragraphs.

One of the things I like about this version of the legend being told from Merlin's point-of-view is the su...more
Jere
The book is very detailed with people, events, and places (which I can't pronounce) which led up to the crowning of Arthur as king. I miss the Disney interpretation of pulling the sword from the stone and the Merlin tutoring Arthur and turning him into different animals but it was a wonderfully spun story. Mary Stewart does her homework and includes historical fact and legend to weave her intricate story.
"Through a man's life there are milestones, things he remembers even into the hour of his de...more
Jenna St Hilaire
While The Hollow Hills got a slower start than The Crystal Cave—for me, at least, perhaps because I was so looking forward to seeing Arthur developed as a character—the last third of the book ought to have speed and suspense enough for anyone. Stewart’s descriptive prose carries the earlier portions and perseveres right through the climax to the finale, infusing all the scandal and the glory of the Arthurian legend with a vivid sense of place and a very believable immanence. Her realism could ha...more
Erik Graff
Aug 02, 2014 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in the Matter
Recommended to Erik by: Denise Griebler
Shelves: literature
Mary Stewart is to the Matter of Britain, the Arthurian legends, what Mary Renault is to the legend of Alexander the Great--though having much more latitude with the facts. Both of them provide engaging protagonists in a believable historical context.

The Hollow Hills is the second volume of her Merlin series, the first of which, The Crystal Cave, being set prior to the birth of Arthur. Like the Cave, however, this novel is primarily about Merlin, Arthur being just a boy.

One of the things I've li...more
Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms)
I first read this book in the seventies or early eighties. Although it can be read as a stand alone, it follows The Crystal Cave and is written in the first person by Merlin. It takes the reader from Arthur's birth through his becoming King at the age of 14. I love the Arthur legend and this book was as good as I remembered it. Some of the historical details are a little dry for me, but other parts are beautifully emotional and amazing. It is a really good book and as all books about the mythica...more
Vicki Cline
This is the second book in a series about Arthur and Merlin. It starts a day after the previous book ended, just after Arthur's conception. When Arthur is born, Merlin leaves him in the care of his old nurse in Brittany, and when he's four, sends him to be fostered by Ector, a local lord in Britain near Hadrian's wall. He doesn't see Arthur again until he's about 13. What I like about the series is that there's not much overt magic. Things happen strangely and Merlin has visions and premonitions...more
Vivat Regina
This book was nothing compared to 'The Crystal Cave'. I felt the book was merely a bridge to the next 'The Last Enchantment'. I really wanted to Love this one, but there was no true magic in the story throughout the entire book. I'm currently on book 3, and will continue until I have read them all. Hoping this was the only one that is nothing special. List of the Merlin Series by Mary Stewart is as follows:
1.) The Crystal Cave (1970)
2.) The Hollow Hills (1973)
3.) The Last Enchantment (1979)
4....more
Charlotte
For me, this book is a lighter read than the last and a much more enjoyable. Though we all knew the ending, Stewart still manages to weave a spectacular story of adventure and magic and humanity. Brilliantly paced, it seizes one's attention throughout and although the clarity of description and air of mystery from the first book are sustained, The Hollow Hills excels in characterisation where I felt the previous fell short. It is refreshing to see Merlin, the great magician, as neither unconquer...more
Linda
Feb 28, 2008 Linda rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves Arthurian legends
Recommended to Linda by: Jane Lewis
Shelves: favorites
Mary Stewart wrote the quintessential Merlin/Arthur legends. I've read all the Arthur books I could find, from Le Morte Darthur, John Steinbeck's try at it (The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights) to Lawhead. Nothing written can stack up to Stewart's obvious background of the history of the British Isles, and her love for the land. She breathes life into these legendary characters and makes them hers. To prove their excellence--you can still buy the four books of the series in bookstores.
Stacey
I read Mary Stewart when I was a teenager, (Moonspinners?) and I'm not sure how I missed the Arthurian series when I was going through that phase. It's a good story, moves a little slow at times, but probably a must read if you like King Arthur legends.

This series focuses on Merlin, making him quite a sympathetic character. It departs in places from the canonical storyline of Arthur (if there is one,) but the changes make sense in the context of Merlin's POV.
Neil

The Crystal Cave was a bit of a slow start for me, but by the end I was very eager to start Book 2, The Hollow Hills. It was fun to see that the second book picks up just moments after the first book finishes (though with some rather clunky exposition to give "the story up to now," which I guess is unavoidable). I found The Hollow Hills to be a really great story. In The Crystal Cave I was surprised by the nonliteral dragons under Vortigern's fortress, and in The Hollow Hills I was surprised by

...more
Danny Runkel
While the characters in the story were interesting enough, the fact that Merlin is not in fact an enchanter of immense power is a take on the saga that I did not particularly care for. For me, it was almost akin to making Sherlock Holmes solve all of his mysteries by pure luck rather than unparalleled genius.

In addition, much of the story was not all that relevant. There were times where I would skip entire pages that went on an on about political unrest with so and so in such and such a place....more
Emily
In the Hollow Hills (book 2) the book takes you on a journey through Merlin's point of view of him going and getting Arthur from his boy hood home. It tells of Merlin taking Arthur to his rightful place as King and teaching him as a young boy. I love the writing of the interaction between young Arthur and Merlin; it is almost like they have a father son relationship.
Monica
These books are classic fantasy, and it is always good to read something like this to take a break from the "grimdark" movement of modern fantasy. I remember liking this second book in the series even more than the first, so if you have read the first book I would definitely recommend continuing the series.
Connie
I like the idea of a re-telling of Arthurian legend from Merlin's point of view, and Stewart demonstrates a good knowledge of the myths from which Arthur sprang, but this book is overall so heavy on description that it just ends up slow and boring. :(
Zora
Slow. At page 250 I realized I'd seen only about 25 pages of plot. I couldn't help feeling as if I were reading the author's background notes or justification for fitting her version of the tale into the older myths. If you read the Wikipedia plot summary, you can see really only three or four things happen. If you do read the Wikipedia plot summary, you shouldn't feel like you missed much by not reading the book itself. If I had gained insight into magic or Merlin's heart or something, I wouldn...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Lady Mary Stewart was a popular English novelist, and taught at the school of John Norquay elementary for 30 to 35 years, but has now retired.

She was one of the most widely read fiction writers of our time. The author of twenty novels, a volume of poetry, and three books f...more
More about Mary Stewart...
The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga, #1) The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3) The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4) Nine Coaches Waiting The Moonspinners

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