Madam, want to talk about author Mary Stewart? discussion

The Last Enchantment (Arthurian Saga, #3)
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Mary's Arthurian Series > The Last Enchantment - Spoilerland

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message 1: by Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽, Moderator (new)

Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1084 comments Open discussion of the entire book. No need to hide spoilers behind tags, but please remember to unclick "Add to my Update Feed" when discussing spoilers in your comment.


message 2: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments Just one quick thought before I forget it: this book is more vintage Mary Stewart than the others, I think.


Hana | 316 comments Although nobody is smoking.....


message 4: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments Hahahahaha!


message 5: by Hana (last edited Jul 24, 2018 02:23PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments Smoking aside ;) how do you see this as more vintage Mary Stewart? The place descriptions were wonderful, as usual. There was, of course, the more than a little weird 'grand Tour' that Merlin and Nimue take, but as love interests that pair doesn't do it for me :D


message 6: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments I think it's the action sequences, the "oh, we're just going to have a nice quiet ride" and then, "bam!", Merlin wakes up, he's almost made it to Arthur and there's a fight sequence that's worthy of My Brother Michael. There was, I think, more excitement and adventure in this one.

I couldn't figure out where in the world Stewart was going with the Ninian story, and it's a good thing Merlin kept him sort of in the forefront of regret or it really wouldn't have made any sense. I wasn't surprised at the Nimue reveal, because I think Merlin was supposed to be the only one who was oblivious. As far as their relationship, I was surprised at the physical side of it; I think I had some memory of wizards/enchanters losing their powers if they indulged. I, weirdly enough, did buy into it, though, so much so that I didn't buy into the end of their relationship and the beginning of Nimue's new one. It just didn't seem as though enough time had passed!

And somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind I have a memory of Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, shutting Merlin up in a tree, so I think I was waiting for that. Which is pretty funny! I wonder if it was T.H.White's Merlyn?


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Karlyne wrote: "As far as their relationship, I was surprised at the physical side of it; I think I had some memory of wizards/enchanters losing their powers if they indulged. I, weirdly enough, did buy into it, though, so much so that I didn't buy into the end of their relationship and the beginning of Nimue's new one. It just didn't seem as though enough time had passed!

I was trying to work out how old Merlin would have been. Given the shorter life spans,maybe only 50? It was still a little uncomfortable. Even so the 4th book was far superior to the third book. A little talky talky though.

The scenes where Merlin was walled up - that was powerful writing.

I'm glad Nimue was sympathetically portrayed - the book was starting to feel decidedly misogynistic!

I have finished & I'm still processing how I feel.


message 8: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments I think he was only in his 40s; I kept trying to keep track and that's what I was thinking!


Hana | 316 comments Karlyne, I think you are right about the link between abstinence and a wizard's power. I had the feeling that Merlin, knowing he was aging and his powers already waning--and also having foreknowledge of his end--just let it happen.

Carol, I totally agree that the scenes with Merlin 'buried' alive in the cave were really powerful. Since I'm mildly claustrophobic I was quite terrified reading that part. It rescued the book for me. Also I loved the last meeting with Arthur, "Wait for me." It was the same farewell always. "Wait for me. I shall come back." The Once and Future King!


message 10: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments I've got The Wicked Day on order from the library. I'm glad you said it's good, Carol. I was debating whether to read it or not since I didn't really love this one. More or less a three and a half stars read for me.


message 11: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments Karlyne wrote: "I think he was only in his 40s; I kept trying to keep track and that's what I was thinking!" I lost count. It seems he was permanently weakened by Morgause's potion so that could be right.


message 12: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments One thing I really thought was done well in this was the whole enchanter-but-human theme. Never is there any all-knowing, all-powerful magician; every so-called magical decision is followed up by its human consequence. In that way, it seemed very real to me.

All in all, this was my favorite. I'm not exactly sure why, but it was much more of a page-turner for me. Although I do need to figure out why I thought Merlin was going to end up in a tree...


message 13: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments That's a very good point, Karlyne. I might rethink my initial reaction and go for four stars.


message 14: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments I'm not sure I'd ever reread the other two, but I might this one, and that's my criteria for four stars! If i ever get back to reviewing...


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Karlyne wrote: "I think he was only in his 40s; I kept trying to keep track and that's what I was thinking!"

That would have been old then too. I was cruising the internet last night & off course most pictures have him looking 70. This does give a bit of a feeling of revulsion. I did find a picture of Merlin with Nimuë looking much younger than that. I'll post it here when I've woken up a bit.


message 16: by Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂ (last edited Jul 25, 2018 01:28PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "Karlyne, I think you are right about the link between abstinence and a wizard's power. I had the feeling that Merlin, knowing he was aging and his powers already waning--and also having foreknowled..."

Yes I guess he thought he might as well have some comfort & love - & he was enchanted.

Re the cave. I am used to both of my kids being physically fearless. But the one thing that gets them is being underground. The reason? When Chloe was around 2 (before Xave was born) we went with a large family group to look at glow worms. This wasn't a tourist attraction thing - you went through a crack in the rock. Somehow Chloe got separated from my husband & I. We could hear her crying with terror & couldn't get to her. When we did the sight of glow worms didn't make it up!

Years later (when they were around 8 & 4) we took them to the most famous glow worm viewing place, The Waitomo Caves. We noticed they were clutching each others hands & thought, "That's sweet, Chloe comforting her little brother." It was the other away away around. & Chloe had transferred her fear to him. They both had to master it for Outdoor Education Classes in their senior years, but you still don't get either of them to voluntarily go in a cave or underground.


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "I've got The Wicked Day on order from the library. I'm glad you said it's good, Carol. I was debating whether to read it or not since I didn't really love this one. More or less a thre..."

Don't think that was me - if it was it shouldn't have been as I haven't read it. I may have this in the house somewhere - I'll have a look.


message 18: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments I saw some clips from the finding and rescue of those kids in Thailand who got caught in a cave and read some divers' reports of the rescue and its challenges. I'm certified in open-water scuba diving, but never, never, never will you get me anywhere near cave diving. What those rescuers did was just awesome.

Anyway, I kept thinking of the kids in the dark in the cave with dwindling food supplies, fighting off panic with meditation during those chapters when Merlin is buried alive.


message 19: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments The Waitomo Caves look quite amazing--as do the glow-worms. But I'm with Chloe and Xave.

PS Kudos to New Zealand for having Outdoor Education as a required course (and to Chloe and Xave for meeting the challenge). Kids in Boston are lucky if they get a physical education class as part of the curriculum.


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "I saw some clips from the finding and rescue of those kids in Thailand who got caught in a cave and read some divers' reports of the rescue and its challenges. I'm certified in open-water scuba div..."

We were glued to the TV for that one.

I'm quite a timid person, but being in caves or underground doesn't worry me. I captured my kids' fear to get the full Merlin Experience.

I'm going to check my ratings for the Hollow Hills & Crystal Cave to make sure I get it right! For this book, the first 2 parts were 5★, the third 3★ & the final 4★. So I think the final rating will be 4- 4.5★


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments & I do have The Wicked Day let me know if you want to read as a buddy read, but I wouldn't be able to start until the second week in August.


message 22: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments Age differences don't bother me at all, but caves do.


message 23: by Hana (last edited Jul 25, 2018 02:25PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments There was a BBC version of The Crystal Cave done in the early 1990s. It seems only to have survived on the internet as a digitized version of an old VHS tape. In it Merlin, as cast, looks about 15 years older than Arthur. Too bad the video quality was so poor--skimming around I rather liked parts of it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcTTJ...


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "The Waitomo Caves look quite amazing--as do the glow-worms. But I'm with Chloe and Xave.

PS Kudos to New Zealand for having Outdoor Education as a required course (and to Chloe and Xave for meeti..."


They are amazing - just like being in fairy land.

PE is required in the first 2 years of high school. The kids may have to do a class a week in year 11 - I'm not sure. Outdoor Education is what you call an elective maybe? Both kids did it for their final 3 years.


message 25: by Julie (new)

Julie Kelleher | 86 comments I really enjoyed this book, and I was also happy Nimue was sympathetically portrayed. I stayed up late last night reading the Applegarth section because I couldn't put the book down during that whole buildup of her story (and Merlin's confusion, which he's so dense he doesn't even realize is confusion, even though the narrative ogles Nimue from the moment "he" walks in the door).

The best part? Nimue saying she didn't recognize Arthur because at his ceremony she'd been looking at Merlin, and Arthur busting up laughing in response. The whole Arthur-Merlin thing is so lovely in this book.


message 26: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments Hahahaha That Merlin-Arthur-Nimue scene really was priceless! I agree, Julie. Arthur and Merlin's relationship was a joy--it's full of respect, caring and deep affection and is beautifully portrayed.

Carol, I'd love to do a buddy read of The Wicked Day. 2nd week in August would be good for me. I don't know if Merlin figures much in the story but it will be fascinating to get the background on Mordred's upbringing. We're starting Wild Strawberries on August 15 at Retro Reads but that's a much lighter book and a re-read for me so no problem juggling the two.


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana, if the 7th of August works for you we could squeeze it in before Wild Strawberries. :)

This is the picture I found of a younger looking Merlin with Nimuë




message 28: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments I'll PM Tadiana and ask her to put the threads up. My copy is waiting for me at the library today so I'll be able to let her know how to do the breaks in the thread. I'll be re-reading (for like the 10th time) Airs Above the Ground here starting August 1--but I've practically got that one memorized so no worries. Any other Arthurian fans can join in whenever the schedule fits.


message 29: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments A lovely Edward Burne Jones!


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "A lovely Edward Burne Jones!"

I love Pre-Raphaelite art. :)


message 31: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments Interesting! Edward Burne Jones was Angela Thirkell's (Wild Strawberries) grandfather.

https://design-haven.com/art/life-pai...


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Hana wrote: "Interesting! Edward Burne Jones was Angela Thirkell's (Wild Strawberries) grandfather.

https://design-haven.com/art/life-pai..."


Looking at that site - his works were very dark - much darker than the other Pre-Raphaelite painters.


message 33: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments They do seem to be. Harvard's Fogg Museum has a good collection of Pre-Raphaelite. I haven't been since they remodeled. Thanks for reminding me to put a visit on my calendar.


message 34: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments Julie wrote: "I really enjoyed this book, and I was also happy Nimue was sympathetically portrayed. I stayed up late last night reading the Applegarth section because I couldn't put the book down during that who..."

That scene was so very human! I love it when laughter is involved.

I read a bit of an article somewhere this morning about how age differences really upset so much of our culture. No one seemed to have good answers for why they do, but people's perceptions are that the younger person is a gold digger or looking for a daddy or mommy and the older person is a Lolita/cradle robber. And the weird thing is how angry it seems to make people! Maybe it's because we just like to put people in nice, neat categories and these relationships don't fit?


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Karlyne wrote: "I read a bit of an article somewhere this morning about how age differences really upset so much of our culture. No one seemed to have good answers for why they do, but people's perceptions are that the younger person is a gold digger or looking for a daddy or mommy and the older person is a Lolita/cradle robber. And the weird thing is how angry it seems to make people! Maybe it's because we just like to put people in nice, neat categories and these relationships don't fit?"

I have to say old enough to be his/her grandfather makes me a little uncomfortable. But two of the happiest relationships in my husband's family have a 10 year age gap. He also has a niece who is roughly 15 years younger than her husband - & she is the mature one! :D Again, they seem very happy.


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "Hana, if the 7th of August works for you we could squeeze it in before Wild Strawberries. :)

This is the picture I found of a younger looking Merlin with Nimuë

oh I regret I got behind here. I should not be peeking at final thread but it was too tempting. Did anyone see Merlin years ago with Sam Neil!!! The story between the movie character and Nimue was very sweet. (and sympathetic). I loved it.




"



debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments Hana wrote: "Hahahaha That Merlin-Arthur-Nimue scene really was priceless! I agree, Julie. Arthur and Merlin's relationship was a joy--it's full of respect, caring and deep affection and is beautifully portraye..."

alright...I will have to up my reading and join Wicked Day. Count me in.


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments I actually know the biggest part of this book. So I don't feel too guilty. Peeking. I read a good portion of it in another buddy read a couple of years ago. I skipped around the last 50 percent bc I got pressed for time on some other commitments.


Christmas Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 271 comments Enchantress debbicat ☮ wrote: "I actually know the biggest part of this book. So I don't feel too guilty. Peeking. I read a good portion of it in another buddy read a couple of years ago. I skipped around the last 50 percent bc ..."

I did a lot of Wikipedia reading after I finished. Fascinating all the different takes on the Arthurian legends.


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "Enchantress debbicat ☮ wrote: "I actually know the biggest part of this book. So I don't feel too guilty. Peeking. I read a good portion of it in another buddy read a couple of years ago. I skipped..."

yes it is! I did a lot of googling the first time I read The Crystal Cave and the second book which was two years ago in another group. Just trying to compare them to what I thought I knew of the legend. I am fairly certain I read these in high school. I had a large crush on an older guy who had them and loaned me his books. I can't be certain I actually read them. Too long ago. Maybe I just told him I did. I really just wanted to be into anything he was. ;-)


Anjali (anjals) | 30 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "As far as their relationship, I was surprised at the physical side of it; I think I had some memory of wizards/enchanters losing their powers if they indulged. I, weirdly enough, di..."

Merlin was only twenty-two when Arthur was conceived (clearly stated in 'The Hollow Hills') so about thirty-eight when he became king.

He is buried alive maybe twelve or thirteen years after this; I deduce this from the fact that Mordred seems to be that age when he comes to Camelot (can't remember where this is mentioned though). So Merlin is about fifty when he meets Nimue.

In this context, the age difference seems to me irrelevant. I doubt if it held any meaning in the actual time period that the books are set in and in Mary Stewart's part-historical, part-fantasy world, age has less to do with numbers than with the experiences and achievements of the characters.

Merlin is pretty modern that way - he's only as old as he feels! :-)


message 42: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments Thank you for those estimates, Anjali. I figure that Morgause's potion did him lasting harm and may have aged him beyond his years. He certainly seemed to have a recurrence of the attack of madness and his magical powers had clearly waned.


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments I have finished. Now I want to google everything. In the notes about the legend, wonder why Mary deviated on some things. Fascinating. I enjoyed that part as well as her author’s note. This is my favorite book of the three. I’m so glad I read it all finally. Don’t you just love Merlin?


message 44: by Hana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hana | 316 comments I do love Merlin. It's one of the reasons I found this book much harder to read than the first two. I'm glad Mary Stewart gave him a peaceful ending instead of the utter betrayal that permeates many of the other Arthurian tellings, but it was still hard to read. On the other hand his escape from the crystal cave was just awesome writing--just the sort of action sequence that always grabbed me in her lighter romances.

I wonder if Merlin figures inThe Wicked Day? Have you read it yet, Debbie?

Also, I would love it if you share the results of your google searching!


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments Hey Hana. I have not read The Wicked Day. It has just moved up my TBR. Are there any plans for this group to move towards that one any time soon? I hope so! I’ll add thoughts this weekend when I have more time. I didn’t love his character as much in the first two books. He really took me to heart in this one. His absolute love for Arthur. But Arthur’s jealous love him. Such devotion. I teared up more than once. And then when he couldn’t hurt Nimue in the part where he allowed her to believe he wasn’t awake/aware when she was taking all of his power. I wasn’t expecting such him to act as generously. He really loved her. It’s so beautiful the depth of the feelings.

I’ve peeled around in The Wicked Day. I’m afraid I do know a bit of what happens. But mostly regarding Arthur and Mordred. Not all stories of Arthur have two sisters. Have you all noticed that? I googled a lot previously. When I read the first two books. I like having both in Mary’s version. It plays out better.

This was a fantastic read! I can’t believe I put it off. Haven’t had time to read all the spoilers yet. I really wanna to do that over the weekend and join in on the discussion.

This was such a satisfying read. ❤️


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 428 comments Omg. And yes. The escape. Wow. Some of the best writing. Sooooooo. Good.


Bobbie | 181 comments I finished yesterday and immediately started The Wicked Day. I wish I had read the trilogy straight through rather than wait in between for the group reads. I think if I had I would remember exactly which I liked best and not have forgotten some of the details and characters. I, too, am so glad to finally have read these after so many years of meaning to. And, yes, I now love Merlin so much and the last book was amazing although for some reason it took me awhile to get into it, just my busy schedule, I think. I have already been "hooked" by The Wicked Day. It is very readable. After completing this, I will have completed Mary Stewart's books except for two of her children's books which I have not found yet short of buying them. I had hoped to find them in the library.


message 48: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1107 comments Bobbie wrote: "I finished yesterday and immediately started The Wicked Day. I wish I had read the trilogy straight through rather than wait in between for the group reads. I think if I had I would remember exactl..."

I agree, Bobbie! I wish I'd read them closer together, too.


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