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Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  12,807 Ratings  ·  469 Reviews
It was a time of legend, when the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for two thousand years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

Taliesin is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the Atlantean princess who escaped the terrible devastation of her homeland, a
Paperback, 496 pages
Published August 26th 1998 by Harper Voyager (first published 1987)
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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
8th out of 387 books — 1,314 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
The Arthurian Legend Retold
20th out of 448 books — 689 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Feb 26, 2009 Krista rated it it was amazing
Of all of the great books I've read around the King Arthur legend, this is my favorite. It is acutally about Merlin's parents, and involves the lost city of Atlantis and it is a beautiful but sad love story. At least that is what I feel when I remember the book; it has been years since I read it. [time passes:] I just looked it up to see if it is still in print, which it is. And what's more interesting is that the description on Amazon talks of a message and symbolism in the story akin to C.S. L ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Werner rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Arthurian fantasy; Lawhead fans or fantasy fans in general
Recommended to Werner by: It was a common read in one of my groups
Shelves: fantasy
While the above Goodreads description of this book reads like it was a publisher's book-jacket blurb (and it probably was!), the basic description of the premise of this series opener is correct --and aside from its overwrought language, the implied assessment isn't far off the mark, either, as my rating shows. (If I could give half stars, I'd probably have added one.)

That isn't to say that there aren't eye-rolling flaws here. Atlantis, according to Plato (who apparently created the legend out o
Leila Bowers
Nov 10, 2009 Leila Bowers rated it really liked it
This five-book series is entitled The Pendragon Cycle, and I will review them all here. I have now taken and taught classes on King Arthur, and this stands as my favorite treatment of the legend. Lawhead is one of my favorite authors anyway, and he does his homework. His writing reflects the oddity of the many Arthurian source texts - Merlin is always problematic, the hugely variable character of Arthur, Guinevere's choices and actions,etc.

Considering if Arthur existed he likely lived around 400
Lawhead's Pendragon cycle gets off to a rocky start with Taliesin. Perhaps it's that I set the bar too high, expecting great things from such a renowned author, or perhaps it's that I'm reading the cycle for my dissertation and hence got overly critical, but either way, the book suffers from poor writing, poor plotting, and a few major historical inaccuracies that ruined it for me.

The writing: passive voice abounds. The dialogue is stilted. The characters are two-dimensional and hardly have any
Feb 07, 2011 Joe rated it it was amazing
This is my first review here so I thought I would start with one that has meant the most to me. I was blown away from the very start. Stephen Lawhead writes with such a passion for his characters in this book frankly I was surprised. He has taken something that is so familiar and, judging by the many other adaptaions of the Arthurian legend, breathed wonderful new life into it. Taliesin is the seldom told story of the Druid singer Taliesin. Forebear of Merlin who later became teacher, advisor a ...more
Apr 01, 2016 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Porius reminded me how much I liked this book when I was 12 or 13 and got it from a little bookshop in North Wales. I figure if it stayed with me this long, it must be worth 4 stars at least.
Paul Schulzetenberg
Two stars is a bit harsh for this book, as Lawhead deftly weaves together two separate storylines for much of the book. Charis, our female protagonist in Atlantis, lives some interesting family drama. Meanwhile, Taliesin, our male counterpart, is growing up in Britain as a wunderkind with destiny written all over him. As the cover so coyly tells us, there is a love story coming, and we the readers are left with a surprising amount of tension as we are attempting to figure out how, exactly, these ...more
Jacob Aitken
Aug 13, 2015 Jacob Aitken rated it it was amazing
Begin your Lawhead reading here. In my humble opinion this is Lawhead's best, least cyclical work of the Pendragon series. From reading the other reviews you probably have a plot summary of what's going on. Thus, I won't bore you with them.

THE GOOD ASPECTS OF THE BOOK (and the first few books in the series)
Since no one rightly knows what, if anything, happened to the City of Atlantis, mankind is free to speculate and write fiction about it. The author is to be commended for his retelling of the
Richard Derus
Aug 15, 2014 Richard Derus rated it it was ok
Rating: 2* of five

The Publisher Says: It was a time of legend, when the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for two thousand years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

Taliesin is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the Atlantean princess who escaped the terrible devastation of her homeland, and of the fabled seer and druid prince Taliesin, singer at the dawn of the age. It is t
Maggie K
Dec 19, 2013 Maggie K rated it liked it
Shelves: arthurian
I wish I liked this book more than I did. I should have liked it, it has a lot of stuff I like in it.
But it just seemed to go on and on about things that werent pertinent, and then just gloss over things that it seemed should have got more attention.
In the end, I didnt care enough when main characters died, because I really wasnt understanding their purpose in this world....
I did like the writing, and I get that this novel is mostly just set up for the rest of the series, but i really wanted to
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 01, 2009 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
One of the best adaptions of the Aurthorian legend (this is the first step in said legend).

And believe me I'm sick to death of all the adaptions. Enough already King Arthur is a great character but let him rest.

Still this is a good series of books.
Jan 07, 2011 Erika rated it liked it
Originally posted at:

Charis is an Atlantean Princess living in a seaside paradise, but too young to understand that Atlantis is on the brink of war. When her family is betrayed and her mother killed, Avallach takes his daughter and their remaining servants into the safety of their stone walled home. Or at least he tries to. Charis is too overwrought with the guilt he places on her over the loss of her mother and joins a religious band of performers, the b
Jan 26, 2011 Melissa rated it liked it
I really like Arthurian legends. And this one was supposed to be a good one. In some ways it was, and in other ways I did not enjoy the book at all.

This goes way back in the Arthurian legends to tell the tale of Merlin's parents. The beautiful strong Charis of Atlantis. And Taliesin, the enchanting druid bard who is son of a king. The book divides its time between the two and their families, telling of their early years. For Charis, this is the start of a war for her nation, her time spent as a
Apr 14, 2010 Tim rated it really liked it
This book is about two characters. I loved one of them. Unfortunately, I didn't have much use for the other.

Lawhead's prose is never brilliant, but sometimes in simplicity he finds a certain elegance nonetheless, particularly when dealing with characters. Call me a sucker for a tough girl, but I adored the character of Charis. I loved her as a child, I loved her even more as an adult. I loved her as a brash, dangerous, wounded person, living on the edge and excelling. It's all very romanticized
Oct 18, 2015 John rated it it was ok
I was anxious to read this when I heard Peter Enns (a contemporary theologian) cite the Pendragon Cycle as having made a strong impression on him. After two pages the writing seemed solid enough. But after two chapters it somehow didn't translate into a gripping narrative. A lot of scale running with no real movement. I was never able to situate comfortably into whatever tale Lawhead was trying to tell me. His efforts at building suspense were completely lost on me and I never once developed an ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Just wow. I don't think there's much more I can say. It was an amazing read. Best ever Arthurian retelling.

There is so much to love about Taliesin starting with the names. They're all so pretty and lilting and beautiful, and I wish people had names like that nowdays.

Every single one of the characters is real and so 3-D. Charis and Taliesin, and all the rest were real and I completely lived the story through their experience. The struggles and thoughts they had were all so believable and rel
Apr 16, 2011 Smilingplatypus rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book. Truly, I did. It's supposed to be a re-imagining of the Arthurian saga, and since I'm a King Arthur geek, I was excited about starting Taliesin. But I just couldn't get into it. I didn't care about the characters, the plot didn't really accomplish much, and the first half of the book seemed to have almost nothing to do with the second half.

I'm not going to lie, though -- I got a bit of a kick out of fact that the sections were copied directly from the Mabinogion. And
Catherine Thompson
I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book... maybe something that pertained to the Arthur legend? The idea that Atlantis sank in the 4th century is pure bollocks, since anyone who's read a bit of the Classics knows that Plato wrote about it sinking. Lawhead also doesn't know a great deal about Celtic myth, since he called the Dagda--the father-god of the Celts--a *goddess*. Hmf.

This book could have used a good edit, as well. Redundancies left and right, and don't get me started
Wanda Hartzenberg
Jan 19, 2013 Wanda Hartzenberg rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
What an astoundingly good epic read.

As a prospective writer I found this book amazing for resting and relaxing as well as a how to guide of how to write time lapses, logically and coherently in about 50 different ways.

The characters show real growth and in such an epic read it is a continual growth process not a onetime thing.

This is really one of the best ever epic fantasy books I have read in a very long list of books in this genre, I will most assuredly recommend this to all fantasy genre
This book tells simultaneously the story of the fall of Atlantis, the subsequent travel of Princess Charis and her family to Ynys Prydein (Britain), and the discovery and training of Taliesin as a druid-bard. The two eventually meet, marry, and Myrddin (Merlin) is born, just weeks before a tragedy brought about by Charis' jealous half-sister, Morgian.
Sep 20, 2014 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I FINALLY FINISHED THIS BOOK. It was quite boring. The only good part was this quote, "Talking to you is like talking to a cloud."
Sep 08, 2008 Ron rated it liked it
Okay, a series on King Arthur opens in Atlantis? Atlantis! It's kind of downhill from there.

It was well done, and a fun read, but I expected better from Lawhead.
Joe Favini
I was really enjoying this for the first two parts, but all the Jesus shit in book three ruined it. I loved the world-building in the Atlantis chapters, and a lot of the characters were great, and I was really invested in where the story was going, but then those two monks showed up and all anyone could talk about was how fabulous this new Christianity thing is. Now, I'm not a believer, but I'm not against Christianity finding its way into my reading as long as it's done well. I'm a huge fan of ...more
After half a dozen different friends raved about this series, I finally got ahold of this, the first book, and was completely hooked. The first few chapters were admittedly a little slow, but that didn't last long. I fell in love with the diverse cast of characters and was enthralled by the story: the beginning of another take on the King Arthur legends, one that is looking to be my favorite yet, ingratiated with a plausible and engrossing tale of Atlantis. The Welsh names were fabulous - and I ...more
Toby Brennen
Sep 30, 2011 Toby Brennen rated it it was amazing
Recommended and given to me by a friend, I can't believe it sat on my shelf for almost 20 years before I picked it up to read! Once started, I could hardly put it down. It has been a long time since I have been so enthralled by a story that I could hardly wait until the next opportunity to sit and continue reading. I am starting 'Merlin' today!

A masterful integration of history, mythology, and story-telling, Lawhead creates a poignant retelling of a very old tale, creating a new vision of the da
Oct 12, 2015 A B rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This ambitious series is a retelling of the King Arthur legend (one of my all time favorites!) from the very beginning. As in, the book opens with Merlin's great-grandfather.

The story switches between a princess of Atlantis, Charis, and Taliesin, the druid son of a Briton chief. The timelines are difficult to discern. The previously mentioned great-grandfather is on the page at the same time as Charis, who appears to be a teenager. Only later is is (sort of) clarified that she is a child, but th
Sigh. I wish I could give this the five I know it deserves. For the beautiful writings, the wonderful characters, the gorgeous romance, the heartbreaking emotion. But I can't. And here is why. The religious preaching. There I said it. I simply could not stand the obnoxious preaching that happened all too frequently in this book. How all the pagans were portrayed as evil and savage monsters. But really the worst insult was changing a fact of history to suit his own agenda. He baptized Taliesin. H ...more
Vivian Williams
Aug 28, 2012 Vivian Williams rated it did not like it
A slow and clunky novel overall, with all its magical potential weighed down by cliched, sentimental tripe. It starts out with some promise, but about two-thirds of the way through it turns into a dumb Christian-propaganda piece. That right there almost made me throw down the book in disgust, once I realized it, but I made myself finish anyway. Even from the beginning, however, the characters are rather trite: a princess longing for adventure, who gets disillusioned with love and then falls in i ...more
Nimue Brown
Sep 18, 2012 Nimue Brown rated it it was ok
The Fisher King coming from Atlantis, and the early Welsh cooking potatoes. It's a mixed bag. If it was a straight fantasy novel, no history, no depending on mythology, I'd probably have enjoyed it a lot more. As rip roaring adventure with a dash of romance, it's a very engaging read. But there's some clunkers in the historical angle, and things like the naming of Merlin, and watching the painfully obvious lead up to this.... just not good. The bull dancing sequences were exquisite. The bits abo ...more
Jan 06, 2013 Ithil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reseña completa en: http://laestanteriadeithil.blogspot.c...

Puntuación exacta: 3,5/5

Taliesin es el primer volumen de una pentalogía de libros sobre el mito Artúrico. Con una longitud considerable, creo que es de las sagas más completas sobre los mitos por las generaciones que abarca. Con un estilo complejo y muy detallista, se aleja bastante de la lectura amena y sencilla de la literatura juvenil acercándose a un estilo más adulto y exigente. Con un trasfondo magnífico, y una trama más narrativa
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The Challenge Fac...: Maya & Krissy - Taliesin 5 10 Jul 01, 2016 05:03PM  
SciFi and Fantasy...: Nov 2013 - Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead 6 37 Dec 06, 2013 02:04PM  
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Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium, Patrick, and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion.

Also see his fanpage at Myspace:

Stephen was born in 1950, in Nebraska in the USA. Most of his early life was spent in America where he earned
More about Stephen R. Lawhead...

Other Books in the Series

The Pendragon Cycle (6 books)
  • Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2)
  • Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle, #3)
  • Pendragon (The Pendragon Cycle, #4)
  • Grail (The Pendragon Cycle, #5)
  • Avalon: The Return of King Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle, #6)

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“...tell me the word that will win you, and I will speak it. I will speak the stars of heaven into a crown for your head; I will speak the flowers of the field into a cloak; I will speak the racing stream into a melody for your ears and the voices of a thousand larks to sing it; I will speak the softness of night for your bed and the warmth of summer for your coverlet; I will speak the brightness of flame to light your way and the luster of gold to shine in your smile; I will speak until the hardness in you melts away and your heart is free...” 76 likes
“They are young and life has no limits. Nothing is impossible, nothing beyond doing or knowing. The world is theirs and everything in it.” 15 likes
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