Day 2

So without much preamble, the next book that I’m choosing is:

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

I inherited this book from my mother. I was bored one day, had nothing to read and she thrust it at me, warning me that it may just be a little too complex for me. I suspect it was to give her a moment’s peace more than anything else. “What’s it about,” I asked? “Merlin” was all she responded.

Well if the saying “Challenge accepted” had been part of the common parlance in the mid 80s, I would have been screaming it from the rooftops.

Merlin you say? The Merlin? Old wizard who helped a boy become king (if you follow Disney’s bowdlerization). Yeah okay. I can read that no problem. Boy was I wrong. This book blew my young mind.

This isn’t Merlin as he’s depicted in the Sword in the Stone.  This is Merlin who was just a bastard celtic son of a noble living in a believable, post-Roman Britain. He grew up extremely smart, had more schooling than most and was “blessed” with second sight. It’s a story of Arthur’s rise and fall told through the eyes of Merlin. A very human figure, who walked the line between mystic and mathematician and didn’t feel the need to differentiate between the two.

Long before I delved into Guy Gavriel Kay or stumbled upon Diana Gabaldon, this was my first taste of history. Or historical fantasy if you will. My first taste of “What if?”. It was probably my first “grown up” book that I read as well and pushed my vocabulary and my mind to seek a deeper story beyond the trashy genre D&D novels that had been my raison d’etre till that point.

The history of Arthur and Merlin are wrapped so tightly with the myths and legends its hard to differentiate them, but this book gave me the belief that this was “reality”. This “really happened”.  I was hooked.

Tomorrow, we speak of lies.