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Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy (Arthurian Saga, #1-3)
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Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy

(Arthurian Saga #1-3)

4.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,566 ratings  ·  208 reviews
The prophetic voice of Merlin, the mysterious enchanter of Arthurian legend, has completed his story. Written over a period of ten years, Mary Stewart's three best-selling novels now stand together in one volume - the finest work of her distinguished career.

Hers is the most extended portrait in all literature in this compelling figure of Dark Age myth and history. Merlin,

Hardcover, 928 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Harper Voyager (first published January 1st 1978)
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Patrick Riley I read the trilogy when I was 13. Fell completely in love with it and I didn't find it a hard read at all.…moreI read the trilogy when I was 13. Fell completely in love with it and I didn't find it a hard read at all.(less)
Abby Vincere If I remember correctly, yes. But her sister, mordred's mom, is the more prominent character.…moreIf I remember correctly, yes. But her sister, mordred's mom, is the more prominent character.(less)

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Average rating 4.39  · 
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J. Bralick
May 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Besides the Lord of the Rings, this was probably the first real fantasy trilogy that I read. I've gone back and read it many times since then, and I think it will always be one of my standards for excellent fantasy.

There's something about Mary Stewart's Merlin that is just captivating. He's flawed, enigmatic, strong, admirable, calculating, naive, and wonderfully human. I confess I've always been a little in love with him. Mary Stewart makes his growth from child to the wise old Merlin so believ
Jul 02, 2019 added it
Oh no. Oops. I haven’t read all three yet. Just the first one and I loved it. The first one is a 5!!!
Walter Conner
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first read this series many years ago, including the sequel, The Wicked Day in which the Arthurian legend comes full-circle with the story of Arthur's bastard son Mordred. I found her approach to the legend very fascinating. I have since reread them at least twice (I have the hardbound set), and enjoyed them immensely each time.

Some reviewers have noted the "slow" pacing of these novels, and they do, indeed, move more slowly than many modern readers prefer. For me, however, Mary Stewart's incr
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's got to be a good 25-30 years since I read these three books, and were just as enjoyable now as they were then. Stuart has a lovely way of describing a scene, the land and the people. If you purchased the trilogy in one book, just remember that they were originally three separate books. I found that while I read it as one book this time, there were redundancies and/or things that I would have expected to be cut from one large novel, but necessary additions in three separate novels. I found m ...more
Abby Vincere
This is a lovely book containing all three of Mary Stewart's brilliant Merlin stories. The first "The Crystal Cave" is about his childhood and how he ended up helping Arthur come to be (more towards the end), the second "The Hollow Hills" concerns his relationship with Arthur as he grows up to become king, and the third "The Last Enchantment" is the end of his role in the Arthurian story and his relationship with Nimue.

And I have to say I loved all three books equally and for different reasons.
Sep 28, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-unowned
A fascinating spin on the same old King Arthur story. Stewart focuses on Merlin as the main character in this series, starting with his young years as a bastard and continuing through his demise shortly into Arthur's reign. Stewart's strength was in bringing these so well-known characters to life and giving them depth. Her weakness was incredibly slow pacing. Yes, we knew what was going to happen, but that doesn't make the story completely unimportant. Foreshadowing was well-used, between Merlin ...more
Nov 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This series puts a very touching, very human face to the ancient Merlin story, as the legendary magician faces the trials of discovering and developing his own power, and later as he grooms the young Arthur Pendragon to assume the throne and unite a kingdom after the chaos following the fall of the Roman Empire. The story traces Merlin's journey from boyhood through the height of his reknown, and even into his twilight years as he settles into 'retirement', and discovers that it is never too lat ...more
Monica Davis
Nov 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
By far one of the best books I have ever read. 900+ pages, continually flowing and engaging. Using the title character, Merlin, as her narrator, Mary Stewart is masterful in her storytelling...wonderfully descriptive; drawing on the reader's senses to experience the smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and touch of this fantastic tale. A wonderful backstory to the usual focus, much happens before Camelot is introduced to us (700 pages into the book). Highly recommend this thoroughly enjoyable read. ...more
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
No idea how long ago that I read this series, but remember really liking it!
E. Ardell
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am sucker for Arthurian legend. Anything starring Arthur and Lancelot, I will give a chance. I've always been amused by Merlin, but he was never a favorite character of mine until this book. Mary Stewart creates a serious Merlin that we follow from boyhood into adulthood. Merlin is brilliant, cunning and humble and the bastard son of King Ambrosius, brother of Uther Pendragon, making him Arthur's uncle.

I love that he's not a bumbling old man, but a handsome prince who doesn't want titles and d
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Adults, young teens, preteens above age 13
I first read this series thirty years ago and loved it. I loved it all the more as I read it this year! Stewart's Arthur and Merlin are set in 6th century Britain with all the mystical gods, godesses, and emergence of Christianity that came with the withdrawel of the Romans from that island country. Arthur is shown as the inheritor of the Sword of Maximus through his father, Uther Pendragon; nevertheless, Arthur is reared as a bastard who comes into his inheritance just before the death of his f ...more
Tara Lynn Tanner
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
It took me some time to get through this trilogy (only a little because I kept looking for my red pen to mark mistakes in this edition), but mostly because it was very episodic and covered such a long time period following Merlin from when he was a young boy until he died. I loved the story- appreciated the historical aspects- and was thrilled by the twists and turns of the plot.

Favorite passage:
It may perhaps seem strange that a prophet who had seen Arthur's crowning so plain and clear and ri
Mar 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Perhaps my favorite books of all time. I've always enjoyed the Arthurian legends, but this telling of them, from Merlin's perspective, resonates perfectly with what I know of the history behind the myths.

Stewart tells her tale through the eyes of Merlin the Magician, Arthur's mentor and companion. The books are Merlin's own autobiography, starting with the first memories he can recall, and ending with the mundane tasks of his daily life as an old man setting his life down on paper. In between, w
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: finished
I really enjoyed this series. Why? I enjoyed that many readers, young and old, could find this an enjoyable series. It also is something that one would enjoy even though they typically do not read science fiction/fantasy. Having said that, I love this genre and was not disappointed. The writing was rich with detail and yet not weighted down. I also felt that the writer had tried to research the era and attributes as far as possible and then took the liberty of writing a fictious work that could ...more
Dec 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved the tale of King Arthur, Merlin and Camelot. What makes this trilogy so special is that it is told from Merlin's perspective. He is the narrator and the story begins with his boyhood. This is beautifully written and you can picture yourself in the towns, caves and gardens. You feel you personally know both Merlin and Arthur. This is right up there with my all time favorite books!! ...more
Sep 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favoritefiction

Mary Stewart's telling of this old legend is absolutely stunning. Stewart's Merlin is fully human and "earthy". She deftly weaves threads of the supernatural into her tale, yet she never depicts Merlin as resorting to the ridiculous and incredulous antics of wizardry that are found in other versions. If you like the Arthurian/Merlin legend, then this trilogy is worth your time!
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those old favorites I revisit every few years or so. Mary Stewart pulls off gracefully the formidible task of creating a cast of characters so lifelike and engaging one almost (but not quite) forgets that they are familiar objects of legend, while remaining faithful to the roots of the story... By far the best retelling of Arthurian legend I've encountered. ...more
Kenneth Koers
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, as a fan of the King Arthur legends. It's unique take on Merlin, in addition to a story told from his perspective, make it stand out. Merlin lives backwards through time, growing younger as time passes, while "remembering" the future. Very cool. ...more
May 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most overlooked wonders in fiction. This is Merlin, the wizard and the man, revealed to us as he must have been. The only thing wrong with this story is that it want it to go on forever.
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
And so I finally finish the Merlin tale. It was well worth the time. It only felt a little slow and sludgy at the last book with tales of Arthur taking center stage. Really enjoyed reading about the legend of Merlin.
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am in the middle of the second book and am remembering why I LOVE this book so much. As I read, I am caught up in the story, unable to stop.
Whitebeard Books
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Mary Stewart has the ability to take a reader flying away to a different time and place with these Arthurian tales. The perfect escape for a long and chilly windy weekend, the reader WANTS these tales to be true.
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Apr 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is one of my favorite books, consisting of three novels that follow the Arthurian legend through the eyes of Merlin. The first novel, The Crystal Cave was assigned to me in high school, as was Mary Renault's story about Theseus, The Bull from the Sea--what Renault did for Ancient Greece, Mary Stewart did for Dark Age Britain. This has been described as fantasy, and there are touches of that, but much of Merlin's magic is rationalized--this is more historical fiction than fantasy, and as suc ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: series, fantasy
I love re-imaginings of the Arthurian mythos. So I thought this series would be right up my alley; taking the myths and grounding them, removing a lot of the high fantasy elements of the stories and making the characters human and believable.

Well, positives first. The world at large is really interesting. I liked the political intrigue, both with the Saxons and between the petty kings. I loved Ambrosius, and Merlin and Uther's relationship. I love Stewart's re-imagining of Nimue; it's the most s
Kaethe Douglas
Feb 14, 2017 marked it as abandoned
Bogged down half way through the second book. Gracious, it moves slowly.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This was a really good interpretation of the King Arthur legend, told from the perspective of Merlin. It's fun to see the characters come into the story, remember what the legends said about them, and see how Mary Stewart casts them. Except it took me forever to realize that Bedwyr is a more accurate version of the name Bedivere, and I am embarrassed because he is one of my favorite characters in the legend.

In any case, the writing is good and the events are interesting. Merlin has the power to
Jan 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I did it! I finally finished the trilogy!!! I want to give this series 5 stars but I am only giving it 4 because of how loooonnnggg it took me to read,(4 months!) and not all the books were 5 star books. I had to get used to Mary Stewart's writing style also as I was expecting this to be more fantasy and not as much historical legends. Once I got used to the idea this wasn't going to be a book about Merlin's magnificant magic and more about history and Merlin as someone who could be real and no ...more
Nov 06, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
This starts out interesting but deteriorates fast. The first novel is a passable re-telling of the Legend, which Stewart summarizes in the epilogue. The second book is inferior and pretty tedious. The third book is so mind-numbingly boring, I gave up on it half-way through, abandoning my plans to read the 4th and 5th novels after reading the initial trilogy.

This book is a counterargument to all those people harping on about how long Robert Jordan's descriptions were in "Wheel of Time". A 10page
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a trilogy that I loved to read and was a little disappointed in at times as well. The story was wonderful....sort of a practical look at the legends of Merlin and Arthur and how many of the legends could have been the result of intellect beyond it's time and coincidence. But where the book sometimes seemed to "lose its train of thought" were the parts where this thesis that seemed to lead the story, was abruptly set aside for dramatic purposes it seemed. I am sure this was intentional, f ...more
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
For someone who is, for the most part, unfamiliar with Arthurian legend, this book was a warm introduction. The story is told from the perspective of Arthur's prophet, Merlin, who receives his power from what he refers to as "the god." More than anything, I was intrigued by the way that Stewart portrays the period of cultural transition following the collapse of the Roman empire-- a period during which King Arthur sought to piece together a single culture and at the same time, Christianity was g ...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, 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 Crystal Cave (Arthurian Saga, #1)
  • 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)

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