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The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga, #1)
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The Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga #1)

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  30,766 ratings  ·  1,078 reviews
Who was Merlin? Was the famed magician of Camelot & King Arthur's court really a sinister, all-powerful being from another world? Was he truly a Prince of Darkness? Or was he a man with the passions of other mortals? A man with unique intelligence & unusual gifts? Why was he so feared? How did he come by his occult powers? Why was the crystal cave so important to h ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published May 1st 2003 by Eos (first published 1970)
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I actually read this book first when I was 11 or 12 and would have rated it a 5 with that self. When I was a girl I was lucky enough to be a tomboy and have male figures in my life who taught me the things I would later realize were traditionally "guy stuff". I remembered this book with a mystical fondness because I remember absolutely identifying with the character of Merlin and cast myself in the role of boy adventurer.

Unfortunately, I have to now temper that literal reading with things I am a
Aug 16, 2007 Savannah rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy lovers, Historial fiction lovers, historians on vacation, arthur nuts
Shelves: majorinfluences
I love Mary Stewart's work. She always mixes the right amount of supernatural and realism, and here is no exception.

Throw out your previous ideas of Merlin, Arthur, and Magic. Here's something a little more Organic. In her Arthurian Saga, Stewart mixes historical figures with figures of myth in a way that is pleasing to the historian's eye. I don't mean in a true historically accurate sense, but in a way that allows you to fall into the world. Details of what was left behind from Roman Rule in
Dec 13, 2008 Jackie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: King Arthur enthusiasts
One of the best Authurian saga I've ever read.
It felt as if I were there watching the events unfold before my eyes.
Who was Merlin? Was the famed magician of Camelot & King Arthur's court really a sinister, all-powerful being from another world? Was he truly a Prince of Darkness? Or was he a man with the passions of other mortals? A man with unique intelligence & unusual gifts? Why was he so feared? How did he come by his occult powers? Why was the crystal cave so important to him?

5th century Britain is a country of chaos & division after the Roman withdrawal. Born the bastard son of a Welsh
It's hard to put my finger on what bothered me about The Crystal Cave. On the surface, it's something I should love: other people whose taste I trust loved it, and tore through it; it deals with Merlin, whose life I'm interested in; it's set in Wales; I enjoy elaborations on less explored facets of the legends... But somehow, it just took me far too long to get through it, and I happily abandoned it for whatever else looked interesting, given half a chance.

Merlin's voice never quite felt real to
☆ Carol ☆

How does Mary Stewart do what she does?

With the best of her books she takes me into another world so completely that I am snarling "What???" at anyone foolhardy enough to try to make me look up from the pages of her book.

The descriptions are beautiful & often poetic.

Consider this;

Then she saw me watching her. For perhaps two seconds our eyes met and held. I knew then why the ancients armed the cruellest god with arrows; I felt the shock of it right through my body.

I wasn't familiar with
There's still a lot about The Crystal Cave that bothers me, but I think, on balance, I liked it better now than I did the first time I read it. As I've said, it's Misogynistic Merlin, which is my least favourite flavour -- you have some clear-headed, quick-thinking, powerful women, but then you have lines like this: "Duchess and slut alike, they need not even study to deceive." And the whole bit about weak female magic and Merlin needing to be a virgin and blahblahblah. Could definitely have don ...more
I first read this back in the 70's & it was a favorite. Merlin tells his story from his boyhood. Read by Stephen Thorne, it's even better.

Merlin tells this tale in his old age, but usually the story moves along as if it were in the present. I liked that perspective, but it means you do have to listen closely at times. He glosses over much of his 'magic' at times, explains it at others, & that generally makes for a sense of mystery that would have otherwise have been lacking in a more st
The first, and one of the very few, books that has ever reconciled me to Arthurian myth. After slogging through hideous Victorian sentimental priggishness everywhere else, this is a breath of fresh and magical air into a tired story.

With all the variety of Arthurian tales and re-imaginings one must write a strong novel to stand out above the rest. A prime example of this is how The Once and Future King utilises the mythology to discuss morality and the reality of modern life. However, The Crystal Cave here neither particularly stands out nor provides a fascinating examination of an idea or ideal. Instead it stands as a dull, slow moving novel which blurs into the background of other versions of Merlin and Arthur.

The one thi
The Silent Reader
For years I'd heard my mother talk of Mary Stewart. But it took me this long to finally pick one of her books up (I was admittedly bored and this was at hand) and read...and read...and read. I wish I'd read her stuff before. But, better late than never, they always say!

The book I happened to pick up was the first of her Merlin trilogy - The Crystal Cave.

Written from the perpective of the legendary Merlin, it traces his young life up to the point when he is instrumental in playing a part in Arthu
Sarah Ryburn
My mother introduced me to these books. I'm a fool for Arthurian legend, wrote a research paper on "Celtic roots of Arthurian legend" in high school-–honestly, one must ask how does an eleventh grader come up with such a topic? Perhaps I had help. Perhaps I must face the fact that I'm a total lit dweeb...

Back to the topic, Mary Stewart's Arthur legend retold. From Merlin's perspective. He's the protagonist. He's the central figure of the saga as well as its narrator, and he, rather than Arthur,
I read this series in high school while recovering from the worst flu of my life. Loved the whole series!! Needed to pay my respects here at GR. Mary Stewart captivated my imagination and pulled me from the doldrums of recovery. Mom was equally glad, because I had something to keep me quiet and in bed.

Here's a good deal. I bought the e-book complete series in this collection: Legacy: Arthurian Saga. Sadly, at Audible it's only sold in the shortened, abridged format. No way.
I first read this book a long time ago because I've always loved Arthurian stories. After so long, I had forgotten most of it, so I was happy to re read it and found myself enjoying the tale all over again.

The time is after the Romans have left Britain, and England is suffering because it's been broken up into several small kingdoms ruled by many local leaders and with a High King to hold them all together. The Saxon threat is eminent and they are encamped on the shores of the Island ready to do
Crossposted from my blog

2 Stars

I’ve spoken about my love of all things Arthurian before, so I was really expecting to enjoy this book. All the ingredients are there – it’s centered on a character I normally like, on events that are often just skated over as prologue, and grounded in more unique ‘realistic’ Dark Age Britain than the typical ‘castles and knights’ setting. It was also pretty popular back in its day. Alas, I learn, yet again, that popularity often has little to do with quality. It’s
Maggie K
What a great classic! I have been meaning to read this for forever, it seems like, and am so glad I finally did.
This is the story of young Merlin. His early life, how he came into his power, and his part in the birth of Arthur Pendragon. The story was wonderful, the writing heavy on description but not overly so. A very enjoyable read!
Suzie Quint
I love this book. The Arthurian legend from Merlin's perspective. He was always the most interesting character of the legend anyway. Stewart takes him from being "the son of no man" and gives him an interesting childhood. I couldn't help but feel for his vulnerability. The mystery surrounding who Merlin was still intrigues.
Lindsey Sablowski
This book is fantastic. Mary Stewart obviously took the time to go through with a lot of researching of legends and so forth to form this saga. I never imagined there would be a book about King Arthur where I could be dying to know more. This saga is the reason I fell more in love with the stories of Camelot. Stewart brings forth a cast of familiar characters, and the adventure is very exciting. The story is told from Merlin's point of view, though in one of the stories the POV changes over. You ...more
Mark ~ Sinfully All Male Romance
I really enjoyed the first book in this Arthur quadrilogy and is definitely shaping up to be one of the better Arthur tales I have read.

This first book deals with the life of Merlin from a child to manhood, finding out about his parentage up until he accompanies and arranges the tryst between King Uther Pendragon and Lady Ygraine. What I really liked about this telling is that Merlin as a character was stripped of all his Disney style hocus-pocus. Instead he was portrayed as someone who was int
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
I read this for an 8th grade English oral book report. It was a great story, and the teacher was amazed that I was able to get explain the complicated plot to everyone so that they could understand it. I never went on to read the other 2 books in the series. I should reread this and then dig out the other two...
I absolutely loved this book, but I did read it when I was a lot younger. I remember not being able to put them down, and I think I even re-read them several times. I wanted to add these to my Goodreads shelf because I want to re-read them soon and see if I enjoy them as much as an adult.
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Alas, The Crystal Cave has lost the glamour that it had exercised over my mind since I first read it when I was around 12 or 13. I can remember possessing the Science Fiction Book Club edition, one of the first books I (ahem…mom) bought after joining the club, and I remember being enthralled by the story of Merlin’s early life and the telling of Arthur’s story from a mostly historical, nonfastastical point of view.

And I still enjoyed reading it this time. I recalled many scenes from my first rea
A book suffused with myth and magic, but also with that mysterious power that sometimes works in mere humans, gifting them with a kind of vision into things long past or things yet to come. If there ever was a Merlin, Mary Stewart is surely right that he was this kind of man--a seeker of truth and wisdom, who learned or had from youth a deep humility and yet who also sensed that he was part of the workings of Providence. In one of the book's most powerful moments, Merlin declares that the King i ...more
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
First of all, I love King Arthur stories. This book is a triology from Merlin's life. I had some trouble with this book dragging for me. It's full of politics. That part just was so boring. However, the other parts did catch my interest and I did finish the book enjoying it more than I had hoped. A friend of mine lent me these books and she loves them so I'm going on to the second one and seeing how it goes.
A wonderful mix of myth, history, romance, fiction, adventure, magic, and New York Times Best Seller, Mary Stewart’s tale of Merlin and his early years to Arthur’s conception has crept its way to the top of my list. Her writing sucks you in like a black hole and sends you to another time and world altogether. No more sitting in that comfortable chair by the fire, it’s onto the hills, castles, and battlefields of ancient Wales and Ireland! Each page seems to come alive as her words form the perfe ...more
First in her famous Merlin series. It's funny -- somehow I managed to miss this one until now, though I had a pretty solid grounding in genre classics. So I'm reading this and it's fine, whatever, interesting here and there, but mostly old hat. Until I realize that actually this is the prototype on which so much of the current canon is based, and from that lens it's really quite fascinating. I think my favorite element thus far is when she toys with this question of greatness. Merlin, after all, ...more
Smith Barney
Merlin..King Arthur. Legend. the Queen of historical-mystical realms..and timeless writer of epic proportions..Lady Mary Stewart.
Jenna St Hilaire
Stewart's tale of Wales-in-the-time-of-Merlin is vivid and sensory and three-dimensional, depicted in some of the better prose I've come across in epic fantasy—as I would have expected from the author of The Moon-Spinners. It's an Arthurian retelling, narrated by Merlin himself, but more fantastic than historical; it sources Geoffrey of Monmouth, who, the author admits, is a great storyteller and a lousy historian. On the other hand, it posits Merlin as more frequently a good scientist than a ma ...more
I wish I could give this 3.5 stars. This was an interesting take on the early life of Merlin and the origins of Arthur. I appreciate Stewart's lovely descriptions of the scenery and the realism she gave to such a magical and mythical story. Elements of this book that I considered to be flaws might have had to do with the time in which it was written, and the way popular storytelling has changed somewhat. For me, the biggest flaw was the lack of a structured plot moving all the way through the bo ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Queen of Camelot
  • Queen of the Summer Stars (Guinevere, #2)
  • Hawk of May
  • Firelord (Firelord, #1)
  • The Road to Avalon (Dark Ages of Britain, #1)
  • Sword at Sunset
  • The Singing Sword (Camulod Chronicles, #2)
  • The Forever King (Forever King, #1)
  • Taliesin (The Pendragon Cycle #1)
  • The Kingmaking (Pendragon's Banner Trilogy, #1)
  • The Pendragon
  • Guinevere (Guinevere, #1)
  • Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit
  • The Knight of the Sacred Lake (Guenevere, #2)
  • The Book of Merlyn (The Once and Future King, #5)
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 Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga, #2)
  • The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3)
  • The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4)
  • The Prince and the Pilgrim (Arthurian Saga, #5)
The Hollow Hills (Arthurian Saga, #2) The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3) The Wicked Day (Arthurian Saga, #4) Nine Coaches Waiting The Moonspinners

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“The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path. And that takes courage.” 28 likes
“But I have noticed this about ambitious men, or men in power, that they fear even the slightest and least likely threat to it.” 14 likes
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