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

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  16,117 ratings  ·  338 reviews
Keeping watch over the young Arthur Pendragon, the prince and prophet Merlin Ambrosius is haunted by dreams of the magical sword Caliburn, which has been hidden for centuries. When Uther Pendragon is killed in battle, the time of destiny is at hand, and Arthur must claim the fabled sword to become the true High King of Britain.
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
229th out of 5,384 books — 20,878 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
35th out of 375 books — 1,259 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
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-
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 All Male Romance
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
Ok, the first book of this series was just so so for me..then I started this one. Oh my! I am loving it. Merlin goes on a search for the legendary sword, Arthur grows up, Uther the king passes and so much more. Written so that you feel you are right there with Merlin leaning over his shoulders.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)
Jeffe Kennedy
One of my all-time favorites, adding it to my #readinghistory
Providence Gibbons
The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart is the second book in the Arthurian Saga. This book was an excellent read and was very well-written. I really enjoyed this book because it had a lot of adventure and this is when Arthur comes into the picture. After Arthur was borne, he was given to Merlin to give to Count Ector. Count Ector would be his foster-father and Cei, his foster-brother. Count Ector would see to it that Arthur would be well-educated, trained to fight, and other necessary things a respect ...more
Stace Dumoski
When I wrote up my review of The Crystal Cave, I said I had read the first two books in this Arthurian series by Mary Stewart years ago, but I think I may have been wrong. None of what I read in this second volume felt at all familiar to me (except in the general Arthurian sense), so I’m not sure I ever read it after all. Of course, it’s only been a short time since I finished it and it’s and is already fading from memory, so who knows?

The only distinct impression I have after reading The Hollow
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 Orvis
Feb 28, 2008 Linda Orvis 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.
Garth Mailman
Book two of the original trilogy follows directly upon the action in book one making it truly part 2 of a continuing storyline. Save that the setting is Wales and involves a character named Merlin Emrys and a King named Uther this historical romance bears little resemblance to any other Arthurian Legend I’ve ever read. The broad strokes are there but this series seems a prehistory as regards Arthur and attempts to elaborate on the particulars concerning Arthur’s conception and birth, a topic in ...more
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.
I am such a sucker for Arthurian tales it is ridiculous. In fact, I am such a sucker for King Arthur that I seemed to forget that I didn't much care for 'The Crystal Cave' when I picked this up. Oh well, but I did end up liking this book more than it's predecessor. Firstly, this book is far less boring and has fewer scenes of Merlin telling us of events he was either not present for or events that had happened in the past. Also, we actually get to grow up with and learn of Arthur as a character, ...more
Neil Coulter

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

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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.

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 for young readers, she
More about Mary Stewart...

Other Books in the Series

Arthurian Saga (5 books)
  • The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga, #1)
  • The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3)
  • The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4)
  • The Prince and the Pilgrim (Arthurian Saga, #5)

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