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The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga #2)

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  17,488 Ratings  ·  395 Reviews
A magnificent tale realized by premier novelist, Mary Stewart, here is the spellbinding, suspenseful story of how Merlin, the Enchanter, helped Arthur become king of all Britain, in an extraordinary story that brings the legendary Merlin & his protege Arthur to glowing life.
Paperback, 512 pages
Published September 29th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1973)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nikki
Mary Stewart’s Arthurian books are certainly very different to her romance/mystery ones. It’s much more the world of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Sword at Sunset than the sort of world her heroines inhabit in the modern stories: one of uncertain magic and prophecy, of blood and hatred and death. And it comes out much less positive about female characters. There are few prominent ones, and even mentions of women tend to be dark portents and shadows on the future Merlin foresees. But I do love the Welsh ba ...more
Jim
Oct 21, 2014 Jim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Lori
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Obsidian
This will be a short review because I have a joint blog post about this book with my co-blogger in crime, Moonlight Reader.

I still like having Merlin as the narrator in these books and we do get some insight into what power is calling to him and also to Arthur. I found Merlin to be just as obstinate as the character of Uther at times because he doesn't like to be challenged. And I think at times Stewart tries to over explain the appeal of the character of Arthur to those around him.

The women ar
...more
Wayne Barrett

In part 2 of the Arthurian saga we have, instead of Excalibur, Caliburn. The sword is claimed by Arthur in a different manner from the traditional story but still fits nicely with the theme.

As with book 1, I think Hollow Hills is also a great book and keeps the reader yearning to move on to part 3.
Sara Steger
After the thrills of The Crystal Cave, we pick Merlin up, bleeding on the side of the road out of Tintagel, and watch as he begins his journey into the life of the boy who will be King Arthur. One of literature’s great characters, Merlin is the bridge between Ambrosius and Arthur--the once and future kings, and for my money he embodies all that is fine about both of them.

Mary Stewart's Merlin appeals to me mostly because of his humanity. He pays a high price for his powers, and they are granted
...more
Layton
Nov 04, 2010 Layton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
debbie~cr8zycat ^_^
Much more than 5 stars. What a satisfying read!!!! I liked this one even more than The Crystal Cave. I am excited to read the continuing story in The Last Enchantment with Arthur now as King.

Full review to follow. So beautifully told.
Lara
Aug 27, 2008 Lara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
Cara
Jan 03, 2010 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, arthurian
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
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
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
Shelby *trains 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.
Cindy
Jul 18, 2008 Cindy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ruth
Jul 23, 2011 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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.
Tristy
Apr 19, 2011 Tristy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scavenged
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.
Joyce
Okay, I admit it. I'm binge-listening to Mary Stewart's Arthurian series. Here's book 2 (I'm already listening to book 3...) Not as compelling as the first story--certainly the narration is every bit as good, the immersive storytelling, the pleasure in hearing a good story well told. I guess it's because Arthur's story as a young man is more familiar, although there are plenty of twists that separate this from the standard Arthurian tale. Coming-of-age, coming into one's own powers--now it's Art ...more
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
Kaethe
Sep 30, 2016 Kaethe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: requested
01/1980
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
Anne Harvey
Aug 04, 2016 Anne Harvey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the second novel in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Legend series, written in 1970, but works as a standalone novel. Set in the Dark Ages after the Romans have left Britain and told from the point of view of Merlin, enchanter and bastard son of Ambrosius, High King of Britain, Mary Stewart has magically painted a picture of a period lost in time. The novel is steeped in mystery and magic, when Christianity was still a very new religion and the people of the high places still worshipped the old ...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
Aug 17, 2013 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jenna St Hilaire
Oct 23, 2013 Jenna St Hilaire rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jere
Jul 19, 2012 Jere rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Vicki Cline
Jul 16, 2011 Vicki Cline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
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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
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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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“Every life has death and every light has shadow. Be content to stand in the light and let the shadow fall where it will.” 2299 likes
“It is not true that women cannot keep secrets. Where they love, they can be trusted to death and beyond, against all sense and reason. It is their weakness, and their great strength. ” 448 likes
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