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The Crystal Cave

(Arthurian Saga #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  40,332 ratings  ·  1,578 reviews
An alternate cover for this ISBN can be found here.

Mary Stewart tells the Arthurian legend in her own unique way, bringing to life one of the world's greatest legends and mysteries, shedding a fascinating new light on the turbulence and mystery of fifth-century Britain. An enthralling work, Ms. Stewart once again reveals those qualities of suspense and romantic adventu
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 12th 1978 by Fawcett (first published January 1st 1970)
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Alain Try "The Pendragon Cycle" by Stephen Lawhead:
> Taliesin
> Merlin
> Arthur
> Pendragon
> Grail
Try "The Pendragon Cycle" by Stephen Lawhead:
> Taliesin
> Merlin
> Arthur
> Pendragon
> Grail
> Avalon(less)
Kristina These books are amazingly well-written and explore the Arthur myth. I read them when I was 12 or so and have re-read them. They are NOT fantasy books…moreThese books are amazingly well-written and explore the Arthur myth. I read them when I was 12 or so and have re-read them. They are NOT fantasy books similar to Harry Potter! These books are more about the power/political alliances and kings and queens and Merlin's role in helping Uther Pendragon come to power. I would say it demands a more sophisticated and intelligent reader--for both children AND adults. These books are much better than most of the YA crap being published now. (less)
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  40,332 ratings  ·  1,578 reviews

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Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 t
5 enthusiastic stars!

"The first memory of all is dark and fireshot. It is not my own memory, but later you will understand how I know these things. You would call it not memory so much as a dream of the past, something in the blood, something recalled from him, it may be, while he still bore me in his body. I believe that such things can be. So it seems to me right that I should start with him who was before me, and who will be again when I am gone."

Wow! This book was exceptional! I was admi/>"The
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
The Crystal Cave is a lush, detailed historical fantasy about Merlin the magician, from his boyhood through when he was a young man (before Arthur comes on the scene). It's well written and richly imagined but the pace is rather slow, or "deliberate" if I'm being nice.

So I've been having some issues with this book (which is kind of embarrassing since I'm a moderator of the Mary Stewart GR group). I got about halfway through this book a few months back and then stalled out. It's been sitting under my bed si
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 England
I have spent most of this morning reading this book right to the end. It is an outstanding book and the author Mary Stewart has done a brilliant job in the writing of it.

The Crystal Cave is the first of Mary Stewart's excellent Arthurian books, telling the story of King Arthur this time from the exciting perspective of the great wizard Merlin. We are so used to reading books about Arthur and Merlin where Arthur is the key figure but this book is definitely Merlin’s story and I loved
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Fiction or anything Arthurian
Who was Merlin? Most of us know the Arthurian tales in some aspect or another, and in them each of us has an idea of the role of Merlin, the great wizard who guides Arthur to be a great king. Few of us have ever stopped to think that legends spring from men and to wonder who the man was who was Merlin. Mary Stewart stopped to ask that question, and then proceeded to answer it with such finesse and glory and brilliance that whatever image of Merlin you have ever held will be dispelled and only he ...more
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
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 WeBLURB:
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 I struggled a bit on how to rate this even though I think Mary Stewart is an amazing storyteller. This is the first in the Arthurian Saga series, told from the perspective of Merlin from the age of a young boy into early adulthood. I was really taken in by the story of Merlin himself and the people he encountered. I liked learning about the humanity of his character and what his magic was really about, and reading about the mystery behind his father. Some of the parts on war and politics wer ...more
Jan 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In the early Dark Ages Britain has fragmented into a number of kingdoms and tribal entities, as the island struggles to resist invasions by the Saxon tribes from Germany which are slowly colonizing south-east England and in the west marauders from Ireland.
The fatherless son of the Welsh princess Niniane, Myrriden Emrys - better known as Merlin faces a perilous and unwanted and dangerous childhood and on the death of his grandfather the king of Dyfed must flee for his life from the murderou
Wayne Barrett

This was a reread for me. It didn't quite thrill me as much as it did the first time I read it but I still think it rates a 5.

I love Mary Stewarts take on the Arthurian tale in this series, especially this opening book where she she begins with Merlin as a child and draws out the history through him. Stewart has taken some liberties and added her own special twist to the story which, to me, brings a unique viewpoint to the legend.

Enter the pages of this series and discover the true
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was done so beautifully yet holding such immense intelligence cognition/ definition that I will think about this for some long hours as I write this. It's a composite of a man who was a poet, priest, scholar, engineer, doctor, sometimes Prince, and wholly too a massive and ultimate manipulator. Merlin is done here to his humanity as much as to his wizardry. The language skills and descriptive sense of surroundings to grasp the internal meanings are fully poetic. Sometimes expressed in poetr ...more
Oliviu Craznic
Mar 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dark-fantasy
Exquisite tale, exceptionally well written, very suspenseful and pretty close to the legend.
It probably inspired the best „Merlin” series - the Sam Neill one and the BBC „(Young) Merlin”.
However, one star out for the occasional (thank goodness: one or two more would have ruined the book!) anticlerical, antiChristian and also historically false remarks (e.g. it is very well known to everyone who reads history the fact that, contrary to misconception and propaganda, Christian Church was not
Stephen Robert Collins
I know read this but years ago & the author died in 1983 so this new edition it in style of T H White not brilliant it's no Karelian Maitland more Pear S Buck romantic than true lot of Barbra Cartland than 'real' villant knights what some people claim 'a woman's book'
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 done wi ...more
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

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/>Then
Sep 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far my favorite Arthurian era novel. Multiple reread.
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this for the Dead Writers Society Genres for Everyone September 2016 challenge.

You know when I was a young girl the story of King Arthur and his knights of the round-table fascinated me. I read every book about Arthur I could find and even read Le Morte d'Arthur and had to go digging in my dictionary to figure out certain words. There was something about Camelot, the idea that a King who believed in truth and justice and was surrounded by men who were loyal to him (we will discuss Lancel
3.5/5 Yay! I finally finished a book!
The crystal cave is the first in an Arthurian retelling saga. Told from the perspective of Merlin, it follows him from a young boy to a young man in his late teens/early twenties.
Overall, I really enjoyed it! I love how she incorporated so many different elements from the original legends while still making them new.
I think my biggest complaint was lack of character development. Even Merlin didn't feel very developed and he was the one telling the sto
I really loved this one. It kept my attention throughout, and I'm excited to read the rest of the series. King Arthur legends are always exciting and fun to read!
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 q/>2
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arthurian-legend
As a child, I loved this series to death. I can blame Mary Stewart and Hallmark's telemovie, Merlin, for my obsession with a historical basis for the Arthurian legend, and in particular, for my obsession with a realistic Merlin.

On re-reading, Stewart's prose is as lyrical and as lush as ever, with her love for Welsh place especially shining through. My favourite sections were those towards the beginning of the story before Uther and the familar tread of well worn legend kicked in. The attention
I recently saw Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which was batshit insane and thoroughly enjoyable. Alas, King Arthur bombed so hard that Guy Ritchie will not get to make his Merlin movie, which is too bad because (a) it would have been LIT and (b) it could have followed the plot of this book without straying too far out of Ritchie's universe. There are several plot elements in this book that make little to no sense (view spoiler) ...more
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
Sotiris Karaiskos
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, mythology
From time to time I have read lot of modern works based on the history of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, but all in the end all left me somewhat unsatisfied. T.H. White's classic version is very light, the very popular version of Marion Zimmer Bradley seemed to me too much New Age for my tastes, while the most recent of Bernard Cornwell is just a very... Cornwellish. So since I read these versions I was looking for something that would please me more. If I found it in what Mary Stuart offers ...more
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone :)))
Recommended to Nisa by: Candi
When I learn this book and it was about Merlin (a magician who help Arthur to be king as much as I knew) I couldn't wait to begin it.

Well, I was waiting for magic in action (such as like in the Magicians series or Merlin series I didn't think It would be same). This book wasn't anything I expected.

The story began as old Merlin everyone knew (I guess :)) began to tell his story when he was 12 years old. Even though this book wasn't what I expected, I felt I was in a magical world on every page
Read this in high school. I loved it then, but now it feels a bit less engrossing. At times, it reads like a listing of events. But excellent new audiobook read by Derek Perkins — superb narration!

Stewart’s sensory descriptions can bring a simple scene to life: “To begin with, most of the men were surly and half asleep, and we rode pretty well in silence, breath smoking in the icy air, and the horses' hoofs striking sparks from the slaty road. Even the jingle of harness sounded cold...”
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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, born Mary Florence Elinor Rainbow, 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, an

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 gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path. And that takes courage.” 38 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.” 21 likes
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