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Merlin's Keep

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,194 ratings  ·  102 reviews

From far-off Tibet to England's rich countryside, this marvelously enchanting novel unfolds the incredible saga of a beautiful, young half-caste whose strange destiny pulls her into a world of love and terror--a worlds a mysterious power moves slowly toward her, threatening her sanity...and her l
Mass Market Paperback, 318 pages
Published January 12th 1979 by Fawcett (first published 1977)
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Leila Not as far as I know. Amazon doesn't show an ebook.

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4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,194 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.5 stars. Merlin's Keep really puts the gothic into the gothic historic romance genre, with some mystical and even seriously twisted occult aspects to the plot. I have mixed feels here; parts of it I enjoyed a lot; other parts not so much.

Like most of the other Madeleine Brent novels I've read, this one takes a young British heroine and gives her an exotic foreign upbringing: Colonial India in this case. Jani is half-Indian, raised in northern India by a Cockney regimental sergeant major she c
Oct 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, gothic
This book was a nice surprise. Not only did I not know that Madeleine Brent was also Peter O’Donnell (famous for writing the Modesty Blaise books), I also went into this thinking it was some kind of Arthurian, Medieval romance. It’s definitely not that. What can I say? All I read was the title. That’s what I get for not reading the blurp. lol

This was actually a really good book though. Brent writes exciting, gothic, adventure stories. I loved the parts in Tibet, with the gritty chase in the snow
I have three of this author's books but this is my favourite story. It is an easy read with romance, adventure and a mystery over a secret prophecy. The plot moves back and forth between England and Asia ...among the Himalayas and the strong main character is a young girl brought up from childhood by an old soldier. She meets and copes with danger and death as she attempts to discover more of the secret prophecy. Merlin's Keep itself is situated in England. I recommend this author highly if you ...more
Carol Kerry-green
My ultimate favourite of all the Madeleine Brent books I have read to date. I have read this one several times over the years, and I still savour it with relish. In this novel, the heroine is Jani, half Indian and half English, as a young girl whe lives with Sembur in the land of Bod, or Tibet as we know it, high in the Himalyas - it is the late 1890s, and Jani's life is about to change as a young arrogant army captain arrests Sembur for a horrible double murder committed 10 years earler. Sembur ...more
Diane Lynn
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Four and a half stars.

Very good mix of adventure, mystery, romance and suspense. I didn't know a merlin is a bird, a type of falcon.
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
OMG was this an excellent read! On almost too many fronts to enumerate. My copy was hard cover and so old the library that sent it had to put in 3 different notes to receiving ends concerning binding and different couplings that were added to hold in the loose first 30 pages- all in different decades. And it had NO bodice ripper front like pictured here; a quite staid setting of the country house lawn of Merlin's Keep in England. In fact, few tales could be further from this considerable and com ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 9-10-10
"Merlin's Keep" is the kind of book that you would read over and over again, just to find new details that you might have missed the first time.
Tahsina Syeda
May 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Half-Indian-half-English Jani is a kickass little girl who grew up on the Roof of the World. Tibet is all she knew and understood, but after her guardian's death, Jani has to move to England. She grows into a kickass woman, and is a match for anyone from orphanage bullies to powerful practitioners of the dark arts. The sinister, frightening Silver Man is a fitting villain for this Gothic saga. I especially like the first part in Tibet . Btw, why is this book called Merlin's Keep? The story is no ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I never quite forgave my 10th grade English teacher for rolling her eyes when I told her this was my favorite book. Jani was everything I wanted to be or thought I already was - brave, mystical, loyal, romantic, misunderstood, kind, stubborn, willful - and I couldn't get enough of her story. 25 years later after several re-readings, I can also see the campy melodramatic aspects that probably set that teacher's eyes rolling, but I still hold Jani near and dear.
Jannah (Cloud Child)
A lovely long engaging romp with Jani in her journey as a small cockney whippet in Tibet to an educated woman in England, all the while holding unknown secrets in her heritage as well as her destiny. I enjoyed and was engrossed throughout. I always love the well rounded and tough heroines that Madeleine Brent creates, and Jani did not disappoint. Nor did the other characters surrounding the multi layered plot.
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars, if half-stars were available.

This was another very good read from Madeleine Brent. The protagonist, Jani, is an appealing, capable girl (and later, woman) who demonstrates admirable loyalty and strength of character. She may be a little too good to be true, but she remains likeable throughout the book.

Though it is billed as a romance-- and though Jani's romance is certainly a big part of the story-- I found that aspect less satisfying than in Moonraker's Bride (by the same author). I
Jun 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
It wasn't until Peter O'donnel died that I found out that he had written a whole series of books under the name of Madeleine Brent.

It's my first Gothic romance, and I think perhaps a good example of the genre. The heroine has many Modesty Blaise elements and gets to do lots of adventuring. Every so often one of the male characters tells her she can't do something but this barely slows her down. The man she falls for is absent for much of the book, and then when he does show up is incapacitated.
Misha Crews
Jun 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical romance
I stumbled upon Madeleine Brent many years ago in the hallowed stacks of the local library, and I've been head-over-heels ever since. Merlin's Keep is absolutely my favorite of all of Brent's books; it effortlessly combines historical romance, adventure and mysticism, with a little politics thrown in for good measure. This book features a fantastic villian, and one of my all-time favorite heroines: Jani Burr, who is strong, smart, and ruthlessly loyal. She's definitely on my "who I want to be wh ...more
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of ALL TIME! I used to read this book all the time when I was a young girl, and I totally love the story. I recently found my old copy and read it in one day. Story is still good, but obviously a pretty easy read.
Barb in Maryland
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance-goodies
My favorite of Brent's books. Great romantic suspense with a historical (Victorian) setting. IMHO Brent is as good as if not better than Victoria Holt.
Carinne Gee
Jul 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maybe....3 1/2 stars. First of all.....this cover....I have no idea where it came from. It's not at all a representative of the book. Madeleine Brent's (pen name for Peter O'Donnel) books are all pretty predictable, and cheesy at times....but they are also fun, silly escapism. This is his third book I've read, and they are fun. This one was a little more 'odd' than the other 2 I've read, and not quite as good....but still fun. They are all kind of a gothic, mystery, romance...often traveling the ...more
Susan Daly
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Merlin's Keep is one of my long time favourite comfort reads. I've gone back to it many times over the years, because for my money, it's the best of Madeleine Brent's books.

And Sembur. Wonderful Sembur. One of the best of all characters in MB's books.

MB's books always return to the same themes. High adventure, a mysterious forgotten past, incedible bravery on the part of both the heroine and the hero. And loyalty. Loyalty above all. Again and again the protagonists return to their roots to resc
I've loved two of Brent's other books, but this one was just too weird for me. It's full of mysticism, or magic that's supposed to be "science." A half-English, half-Indian girl is brought up by an English soldier in Tibet, then over the course of various adventures ends up on an English estate with a family that loves her. When the mistress of the house gets married, that's when things get really weird.
Jun 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I have read several of Madeleine Brent's books and this one was not my favorite. The main characters were likeable and the villain appropriately evil for this kind of tale, but the overall story just did not resonate with me. If you're looking for a gothic historical romance, I'd recommend Moonraker's Bride also by Brent.
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An interesting and enjoyable novel set in the very early 20th century in Tibet and England concerning our heroine Jani and her adventures in both continents. A combination of thriller, adventure, romance, military, historical and occult! An excellent book with the added bonus of no foul language. Recommended.
Jul 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another one Madeline Brent's great books. This one had a different twist but oh so intriguing! She has become my favorite author. What a great writes with several twists. I even have my husband hooked on this author!!!!
Feb 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With the title being Merlin's Keep I was totally expecting something more medieval. That isn't what I got but I really enjoyed the book all the same. The plot was unique and intriguing. Set in both the Mountains of Tibet and then in England there was a lot of interesting culture and history.
Cherie Waggie
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Reminded me of a cross between Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden.
Reading with Cats
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: loved, gothic
Crazy, melodramatic fun.
Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
I did not know what to expect, but I loved the story. I picked up the book by accident. I would like to try and find more books by this author.
May 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very nice mystery with romance and a bit of the occult. A page tuner for me.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not my favorite. Pretty fantastical; lots about witchcraft & the occult with no clear lines drawn.

Still decently written.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
An old friend that didn't disappoint. I finally managed to finish a book after a horrible drought.
Mar 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I did not like the element of the prophecy and that it foretold the whole plot. Everything else I loved!
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Re read this gem. I wish I didn’t like it, but I did. I could see where it was going from the first chapter. Sure, I’d read it before about twenty-three years ago, but I imagine I had a good idea where it was going even then. The characters are likable, the book is an easy beach type read perfect for summer. It hearkens back to when romance novels weren’t exactly full of sex and multiple partners but about love and longing and overcoming impossible odds. I enjoyed it, but concede it isn’t for ev ...more
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Retro Reads: Merlin's Keep 54 28 May 08, 2017 11:14PM  

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Madeleine Brent is a pseudonym used by Peter O'Donnell.

Peter O'Donnell was born on 11 April 1920 in Lewisham, London, England, UK. He was interested in writing as a child, and began writing professionally at the age of 16. During World War II he served in the Royal Signals Corps, and was stationed in Persia, Syria, Egypt, the Western Desert, Italy, and Greece. After the war, he worked as a comic s
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