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(The Pendragon Cycle #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  15,631 ratings  ·  647 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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Tandy Brown Taliesin is a bit slower than the rest of the books in the series but it does help set the stage for the rest so you can make it through it, it makes …moreTaliesin is a bit slower than the rest of the books in the series but it does help set the stage for the rest so you can make it through it, it makes the others more interesting. I did enjoy his Song of Albion series books more than this series so maybe try one of them.(less)
Yvonne I got the impression that they were happening at the same time. Everyone saw the same signs of star fall for example, so Charis and Taliesin would hav…moreI got the impression that they were happening at the same time. Everyone saw the same signs of star fall for example, so Charis and Taliesin would have had a smaller gap in age. I got the impression that the Atlantis was so far separated from and so far advances from the other countries that they didn’t have much contact with the outside world. They were a very proud people that didn’t want to mingle with lesser tribes after all. (less)

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Jan 10, 2009 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
Jan 31, 2011 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 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
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
Jul 14, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book made me angry. I've read several takes on the Arthurian legend, and I've disliked a few, but none of them pissed me off as much as this one. The only possible reason I can conceive of for it's existence is to serve as a counter point to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon, in much the same way as Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials is a counter point to C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia.

Let's begin. The world building is a bit shoddy. It's set in the 4th century, but for some reas
Richard Derus
Aug 15, 2014 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
Feb 07, 2011 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
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“...he burned with the vision of a world he meant to create.
That vision must not die.
I, Charis, Princess of Lost Atlantis, Lady of the Lake, will keep the vision alive.”

So ends the first book in the Pendragon Cycle — and what a book it has been! This novel completely changed how I view Arthurian works by going against all the cliche, boring sagas that we see as that time periods best. Stephen Lawhead brought to life the Lady of the Lake and the Legend of Atlantis in a way I never thought possibl
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have begun a game with myself where I go to the library and pick books from the free shelf, you know books with "those" dust jackets, the ones you would normally never read because of the cover and because of the synopsis written on the inside by some bored reviewer that doesn't do the book justice. I am discovering small gems on the free shelf and so it is with "Taliesin".

"I will weep no more for the lost, asleep in their water graves......" is how the book begins. Stephen R. Lawhead has mana
Jacob Aitken
Aug 04, 2011 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
Ashley Marie
Aug 21, 2017 marked it as eventually-possibly
Tried it a second time and I'm the first to admit this time it was purely my own fault that I didn't get further than page 100 -- I'd borrowed the audiobook while listening to something else, and then once I got around to Taliesin I had 6 days in which to read it, listened for 2 days and then missed 3 because of a combination of things -- once again, mainly not in the mood for it. But I was unable to renew it so it had to go back into the system so the rest of the people with holds on it can lis ...more
Lauren Stoolfire
Epic historical fantasy series opener! I loved seeing Arthurian legend begin to come together with Merlin's parents - Charis, a princess of Atlantis who just managed to escape the devastation, and Taliesin, a druid Prince and talented seer. If you're interested in Arthurian legend, you have to try this novel. Now, I need to get my hands on the sequel! ...more
Apr 01, 2016 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.
Maggie K
May 11, 2011 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
Oct 17, 2015 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
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-read
This is Book # 1 in Stephen R. Lawhead's first series The Pendragon Cycle, yes another re-telling of Arthur and The Merlin. However, this was one has grabbed me. I have also got The Mists of Avalon going(since early December)-the difference, I put that one down and it's hit or miss when I will pick it up again-it's not bad, it just does not pull me in as I want a book to do.

A lot of bru-ah-ah in the reviews on this that Lawhead took too many liberties with time frames(Atlantis was well gone in P
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2017
This was quite an engaging read. I love how Atlantis is worked into the early beginnings of a King Arthur tale. Can't wait to see how the story continues with the next book: Merlin! ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 01, 2009 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.
Abi Stewart
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book! It had a great combination of fantasy, adventure, tragedy and romance. I found the style of writing engaging and the plot was great. I really enjoyed it - one of the best books I've ever read! ...more
Mar 05, 2010 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 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 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
Nov 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 22, 2016 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
Jeff Miller
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
In the last year I had seen this book referenced a couple of times regarding the superversive literary movement.

I totally enjoyed this as a blending of the myth of Atlantis and King Arthurs Court. Just brilliantly done. I also liked how the story of the historical Taliesin was used to blend these stories giving it a historical fantasy flavor. Plus as any good historical look at the King Arthur story, Christianity should not be left out and it is part of the story here.
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. ...more
Sep 08, 2008 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.
Toby Brennen
Sep 30, 2011 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
Sep 06, 2015 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
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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

Other books in the series

The Pendragon Cycle (5 books)
  • Merlin (The Pendragon Cycle, #2)
  • Arthur (The Pendragon Cycle, #3)
  • Pendragon (The Pendragon Cycle, #4)
  • Grail (The Pendragon Cycle, #5)

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