When it comes to Merlin’s Nightmare and the Merlin Spiral as a whole, it’s fairly easy to say what I like about this series. The characters are great, the suspense is high, and the story world is amazing. (Or, shall I say, fantastic?)
For me, though, the biggest attraction is how Robert Treskillard plays with Arthurian legends. As I said in my post yesterday, I'm reviewing Merlin's Nightmare today for the CSFF Blog Tour, and I'll put off saying much more about the Arthurian elements until tomorrow. For now, I’ll just note that I enjoyed how The Merlin Spiral recreates the story as it might have happened in ancient Briton, rather than the typical medieval England and knights in armor setting.
Throughout all three books, Treskillard weaves in well-known characters. I had a small thrill when I realized who Launcelot was, and another when Guinevere appeared. While the first two books show Merlin’s special calling as a champion of his faith and his struggle to protect Arthur, Merlin’s Nightmare jumps ahead in time to show Arthur on the brink of manhood. Merlin still wants to keep the impetuous boy in check, but also has to guide the man when the time comes to rescue Briton from here enemies.
There should be an asterisk after ‘as it might have happened,’ though. People don’t usually stumble across magical blue stones or get attacked by wolf-men. Nor do they typically find the Holy Grail, however much they might search for it.
In Merlin’s world, magic, dark powers, and visions are real. The struggle to walk in faith is also real, since sometimes the Sangraal heals, and sometimes it does not.
The books do have a few issues—mostly minor with a bit of clunky writing here and there. I felt Merlin didn’t actually sound older in Merlin’s Nightmare, even though the book is set sixteen years after the others. The books also tend to be episodic, with a dominate storyline to tie the pieces together. That’s not to say things are haphazard. Even minor characters show up for a reason, and backstory becomes very important along the way, but the details can feel jumbled or rushed together at times.
A little more important is the fact that the series is labelled YA, but the School Library Journal recommends them for high school readers and older. While some younger teens might enjoy the stories, I agree with the age recommendation and would be cautious about handing the books off to more sensitive or visual readers due to the graphic violence in all three books.
For anyone else, I think the books are a fairly fun, imaginative read. I think I would have enjoyed them even without the remix of Arthurian legends, but for me, that part adds an extra bit of excitement to the stories.
Curious? Be sure to check out the other posts for this tour! You can find links to the individual posts here.
[My thanks to Blink/Zondervan for sending me a copy of Merlin's Nightmare, in conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour.]