The Great Tree of Avalon (Merlin Series #9) by T. A. Barron, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Child of the Dark Prophecy (Merlin Saga Series #9)

Child of the Dark Prophecy (Merlin Saga Series #9)

4.5 56
by T. A. Barron

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Long ago, the great wizard Merlin planted the seed that would become the peaceful world of Avalon. Now, though, Avalon is suffering from mysterious droughts. Then the very stars begin to lose their light, and it seems that the Lady of the Lake's dire predictions are about to come true. The fate of Avalon now rests with Tamwyn, a wandering wilderness guide; Elli, an


Long ago, the great wizard Merlin planted the seed that would become the peaceful world of Avalon. Now, though, Avalon is suffering from mysterious droughts. Then the very stars begin to lose their light, and it seems that the Lady of the Lake's dire predictions are about to come true. The fate of Avalon now rests with Tamwyn, a wandering wilderness guide; Elli, an apprentice priestess; and Scree, a young eagleman. One of them is the true heir of Merlin, the only person who can save Avalon . . . and one of them is the dreaded child of the Dark Prophecy, fated to destroy it.
As in his acclaimed epic The Lost Years of Merlin, T. A. Barron has created a radiant, richly imagined world, full of high adventure and un-forgettable characters.

Editorial Reviews

Enter the world of Avalon: a wondrous land where all manner of creaturescoexist around a great tree. Grown from a seed planted by none other than Merlin himself, the tree is cultivated and nurtured by T.A. Barron, author of numerous fantasy books and possessor of a fabulously fertile imagination.... In The Great Tree of Avalon, the inextricable links between the land, air, water, and sky are evident. And the fact that even Avalon-a giant, soaring tree that bridges the celestial and the earthly-can be weakened, draws a strong parallel to the possible consequences of environmental damage in our own world.
Book Page
Barron builds on his popular Lost Years of Merlin saga, creating an elaborate, richly detailed world spread out on the seven roots of the Great Tree of Avalon, which grew from "a seed won by Merlin on his journey through a magical mirror." The story begins in Avalon's year 1002, when it appears that the Lady of the Lake's Dark Prophecy is coming true and the only hope of saving Avalon lies in finding Merlin's true heir. The fates of two boys born 17 years earlier and raised as brothers are intrinsically bound to the prophecy; Scree the orphaned eagleboy charged with guarding Merlin's staff, and Tamwyn, who fears he is the Dark Child destined to destroy Avalon. Liberally laced with humor and wit, the first in The Great Tree of Avalon series effectively introduces and fleshes out remarkable characters, both human and non-human. It also vividly sets the scene through the adventures of various beings who eventually come together in a desperate quest to stop the evil that threatens Avalon and its denizens. Even readers unfamiliar with The Lost Years of Merlin will relish this fine debut of a promising new fantasy series. (Starred Review)
Publishers Weekly
Barron's (The Lost Year's of Merlin) new entry in his Arthurian mythos explores the legend of Avalon, "the Great Tree [that] stands as a bridge between Earth and heaven, mortal and immortal." The opening scene lays out the novel's central conflict: a pair of kidnappers attempt to take from its branches "an eagleboy," who in the process becomes orphaned; ensuing events lead Merlin to come to the rescue of the eagleboy as well as a human child and its mother. The magician makes veiled mention of a Dark Prophecy and asks the woman to raise the orphan, Scree, alongside her own son, Tamwyn (meaning "Dark Flame"). In the next chapter, 17 years later, the mother is dead, and the boys, separated, search for each other. The author then introduces Elli, also an orphan, who becomes apprenticed to an arrogant priestess deemed "The Chosen One" for her visions of the Lady of the Lake. Readers meet Elli just as the Dark Prophecy is beginning to come true, and Elli must help the priestess find Merlin's true heir in order to save Avalon before the foretold enemy destroys it. At times the narrative repeats itself, in order to telegraph to readers vital information. But the thickening plot and the three key characters-Tamwyn, Scree and Elli-as well as a captivating supporting cast of sprites, fairies and assorted changelings will keep the pages turning. Arthuriana fans will also delight in Barron's bonus revelations, as he ties in identities of the Lady of the Lake and others with Avalon's history. An epilogue hints at a sequel. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
In book one of what is sure to be an epic series, Barron introduces readers to his fantasy world of Avalon, taking creative liberties with its Arthurian roots. Barron's Avalon is a great tree spanning heaven and earth whose roots form seven different realms—Woodroot, Waterroot, Stoneroot, Mudroot, Airroot, Fireroot, and Shadowroot—each with its own unique inhabitants and landscapes. In this first book, a prologue sets the tone. A child is born in the year of darkness who will destroy Avalon unless the heir of Merlin can save the world from ultimate destruction. The main character is Tamwyn, born in the year of darkness, who longs to travel the different realms of Avalon. He finds himself thrown into the entourage of a haughty, soon-to-be high priestess and her companions who are seeking the wisdom of the lady of the lake to save them from the prophecy. Acting as a wilderness guide, Tamwyn leads the group of humans and elementals through the realms, all the while troubled by his growing powers and the knowledge that he may be the child of the Dark Prophecy who is destined to destroy the world he so loves. Hovering in the background is Tamwyn's adopted brother Scree, an eagleman also born in the year of darkness, who has hidden out for many long years, guarding what he believes to be the staff of Merlin, making him Merlin's true heir. Or is he? Barron's fantasy is rich with interesting characters and fascinating landscapes, sure to please fantasy readers looking to travel deep into another world. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2004, Penguin, Philomel, 444p. map., Ages 12 to 18.
—Michele Winship
Children's Literature
Avalon is the land between Heaven and Earth where all creatures live in harmony. It was created years ago from a magical seed planted by the powerful sorcerer Merlin which grew into the Great Tree. For all this time, Avalon has been a peaceful place, a sensational place of mystery and wonder. However, its future is much less certain. Seventeen years ago, Tamwyn and his beloved "brother" eagleman Scree were born during the Year of Darkness. It was a time of great fear for the people of Avalon, for it was the year that the Child of the Dark, with the power to destroy Avalon, would be born. The land's only hope would be another child, born the same year, Merlin's true heir. Although Tamwyn and Scree do not yet know it, their lives are intricately entwined with the future and fortune of the enchanted land. So, too, are the lives of Elli, a Drumadian priestess and Brionna, an elf maiden. In this, the first book of T. A. Barron's latest epic series, the four are drawn together as Avalon's danger becomes evident. They meet the Lady of the Lake, battle an evil sorcerer, and struggle with their individual fears as they search for answers to Avalon's survival. The author has created an engaging world and populated it with likeable heroes. This series is sure to capture readers' imaginations as his earlier "Lost Years of Merlin" epic has. 2004, Philomel, Ages 12 up.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-In this first installment in a new series, Barron reimagines the legendary world of Avalon as a gigantic tree, with a separate realm located on each of its seven roots and stars hanging in the unseen branches far atop its trunk. A crippling drought has brought the realm to the verge of warfare, and 17-year-old Tamwyn and his bickering companions seek the advice of the fabled Lady of the Lake. Tamwyn fears he's the child of the Dark Prophecy, foretold centuries ago as the one who would destroy Avalon, and he wants desperately to change his destiny and save his beloved world. With its mixture of high fantasy and slapstick humor, the tale resembles Barron's "The Lost Years of Merlin" series (Philomel) and Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" (Holt). Despite loads of goofiness and violence, the plot moves rather slowly through lengthy introductions of the large cast and descriptions of the Great Tree. While the characters and setting are interesting, this is clearly the prologue to a much longer saga: all beginning, with no middle or end. The story will appeal most to devoted fantasy readers, particularly fans of the "Merlin" series, who will recognize details from the earlier books and try to guess how the epics will converge.-Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
When they're written well, classic fantasy motifs give a story richness, archetypal depth, and solid scaffolding-but badly done, they cause only wincing. This wretchedly overwritten, haughty attempt at a Tolkien-like epic buckles under the weight of cliche, repetition, cringe-worthy dialects, images that alternate between overused and downright cryptic, and a world whose geography is mapped but never metaphysically clear. Barron's touted as an environmentalist, but the environmental philosophy here is no stronger than in much other literature, and often it's painfully forced: for example, it's the evil sorcerer who chops down a forest and enslaves animals. If characterizations were better, this would be fine, but they're not. A prophecy from long ago sets a ragged band of travelers on a quest. A Dark Child born 17 years ago is destined to cause the end of Avalon, and someone is the true heir of Merlin. Who? Who cares? (map, history of Avalon) (Fantasy. 10+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Merlin Saga Series, #9
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.38(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.40(d)
810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 2: Banished


Tamwyn cocked his head thoughtfully. Everything around him--this village, this landscape, even this little quartz bell on his hip--all seemed to fit. To belong.

Unlike Tamwyn himself. He wiped some sooty thatch off his brow. Where did he belong, after all?

Swinging his legs at the edge of the roof, he looked again at the shining peaks in the distance. Maybe he just belonged out there, in those woods and fields and ridges where he loved to run. Clumsy as he felt in a village like this . . . something happened when he ran free, leaping over stones and streams.

Something magical.

Craning his stiff neck, he lifted his gaze to the stars. So many of them--and so beautiful. He traced the outlines of some favorite constellations: There was Pegasus, ears back and eyes ablaze, soaring on high. And the Twisted Tree, reaching its long branches across the shadowed sky.

He smiled, wondering what it would be like to run--really run--among those stars, weaving through the clusters of light as if they were groves of trees. Oh, to stride across those starry fields!

Even as he watched them now, the stars dimmed, bringing on the night. While their brightness faded, their individual positions grew more clear, making it easier to connect them into constellations. Tamwyn wondered, as he’d done so often, what the stars of Avalon really were . . . and whether someone, someday, could find a way to explore them.

He pursed his lips, thinking. Nobody knew why the stars dimmed at the end of every day, after that final flash of golden light. Nor why they swelled bright again every morning. Just as nobody knew why, here in Stoneroot, the stars shone brighter than in any other realm--something he’d learned from wandering bards. How different from Shadowroot, where the stars didn’t even shine at all . . . All these questions added up to the great unsolved riddle of the stars’ true nature--something that had puzzled people through all the ages of Avalon.

Many a night, as Tamwyn peered up at the stars from a sheltered glade or a mossy rock, he’d pondered such things. The stars always seemed so distant, so mysterious. Frightening somehow, and yet alluring. Almost as if they called to him.

How he’d love to travel there. Yes, and to all the other realms of Avalon. He’d find the right portals and travel through them to other lands, other peoples, other trails that he could run. Perhaps he’d even find some way to explore upper Avalon--the trunk itself, and whatever lay beyond! Why, maybe he’d even discover other kinds of creatures there . . . creatures that no one in the Seven Realms knew existed. He could be a great explorer--just like Krystallus Eopia, the famous son of Merlin.

Ouch! He winced from the louse biting his forearm.

With a scowl, he flicked away the little scoundrel. Some explorer he was! Why, today he’d ventured all the way to the topmost rung of Lott’s rickety ladder. And even battled some man-eating lice.

His legs kicked at the air by the roof’s edge. Truth was, the life he was leading couldn’t have been any more different from that of Krystallus. Or from his own shadowy beginnings. He bit his lip, recalling his very first memory--those vague, confused images of a fiery mountain, an old man with the wings of an eagle . . . and a woman’s warm embrace.

He shook his head. How could he even be sure that memory was real? More and more, that night on the fiery mountain seemed just a dream. A twisted dream. He hadn’t even dared to talk about it with Scree, not after everything they’d been through, although it hovered between them like a ghoul--always present, yet always invisible.

Not that this unspoken memory had spoiled their time together--no, far from it. Scree and Tam (as his brother called him) had ranged widely, exploring much of Fireroot’s volcanic lands. They’d climbed peaks, crawled through lava tunnels, slid down glass-smooth slopes of black obsidian, hurled fistfuls of ash at each other’s heads, wrestled among spouting flame vents . . . and so much more. Just as long as the boys avoided any contact with the warlike flamelons, and returned home to their cave by dark, they’d had plenty of freedom. And they’d also had a genuine family, thanks to the woman who was mother to them both: for Scree, by adoption; for Tamwyn, by birth. She had always been there to welcome them home, her orange eyes aglow.

Until the day she died and left them with nothing but each other.

And then, seven years ago, they had lost even that.

Tamwyn blinked at the stars, which seemed suddenly blurry. What good did it do to think about that? Scree was gone now--maybe even dead. And even if he was still alive, he’d been impossible to find.

Still, Tamwyn couldn’t keep himself from wondering . . . or searching. That was why he’d spent most of the last seven years wandering across Stoneroot--over rocky hills, meadows, marshes, forests, and snow fields—looking for any sign of Scree. Though he’d found nothing yet, hope still burned inside him. If he just ran enough trails, however remote or dangerous, maybe somehow he’d--

“Eehee, eehee, look there. A real live man made of charcoal! Darker than a dead torch on a moonless night, he is. Eehee, hoohoohoo, ahahaha.”

The raucous laugh cut short Tamwyn’s thoughts. He looked down from the roof platform to see someone standing on the broken bale of thatch, peering up at him. It might have been a man—except this person stood only half a man’s height and was as thin as a ridgepole. He had very large hands (almost as big as his head), long arms, and circular eyebrows that went all the way around a pair of silver-colored eyes. For clothes, he wore just a sack-shaped tunic, a belt with a slingshot, and a woven red headband.

A hoolah, thought Tamwyn, shaking his head grimly.

What People are saying about this

Jane Dr. Goodall
The Great Tree of Avalon opens a door into a mythical, magical world. I was transported and I was enthralled. Barron's heroic characters came vividly to life as they battled the evil forces threatening their world. I shall not forget them. The story is packed with action and written in riveting prose. And what an appropriate tale for our troubled times, with its message of hope- that wickedness, however mighty, can be vanquished by the true of heart and staunch of spirit. U.N. Messenger of Peace and Founder of The Jane Goodall Institute,
Isabel Allende
This is a brilliant epic tale with memorable and glowing characters-a real gift. T.A. Barron writes about ecology, compassion, feminism and peace with a light touch and a sense of adventure. I smiled, shed tears, and was thoroughly entertained. The story stayed with me, and renewed my hope for humanity.
Robert Redford
T.A. Barron's fascination with and appreciation for nature shines through in his rich and inventive tale, The Great Tree of Avalon, which takes us on an extraordinary adventure through a damaged but magical world and reminds us of the fragility and wonder of our own natural surroundings.
Robert Coles
T.A. Barron's The Great Tree of Avalon takes its readers on an extraordinary journey -- a vivid story of adventure, chance and fate, and moral exploration. This lively, entrancing tale is truly a parable for us today, as we pursue our own lives, our own search for purpose and understanding. Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Children of Crisis
William Howarth
The Great Tree of Avalon is a landmark fantasy, built on a scale both epic and intimate. Here the island of Arthurian myth becomes a giant tree, each of its seven roots a richly imagined realm. Whether this world lives or dies depends on three appealing young heroes, whose quests prove that the secrets of nature and love are the strongest magic of all. Professor of English, Princeton University and author of Walking With Thoreau,

Meet the Author

T.A. Barron is the award-winning author of fantasy novels such as The Lost Years of Merlin epic—soon to be a major motion picture. He serves on a variety of environmental and educational boards including The Nature Conservancy and The Land and Water Fund of the Rockies, and is the founder of a national award for heroic children. Following a life-changing decision to leave a successful business career to write full-time in 1990, Barron has written seventeen books, but is happiest when on the mountain trails with his wife, Currie, and their five children.

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Child of the Dark Prophecy (Great Tree of Avalon Trilogy Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is actally the first in the triligy, but for some reason it says that it is book 9. But I do not care, because this book is one of my favorite books ever!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DW-22 More than 1 year ago
Comparable to other series such as Lord of the Rings and Eragon, but not nearly as good. That being said, it is a fun read with imaginative ideas, and has elements that really do shine. Unfortunately, the series deteriorates as it goes on - the first book is definitely the best.
fantasy9 More than 1 year ago
Child of the Dark Prophecy is an outstanding book. It is great for its adventure, and it makes you, the reader, think. This book is a fantastic read, and will keep you going until the end of the trilogy! Like all of T.A. Barron's books, this one is very creative. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves to indulge themselves in fantasy and adventure! It is pure genius! You'll never find a book like this so go on and don't be afraid to read it! Child of the Dark Prophecy will make you thirsty for the rest of the trilogy, and more T.A. Barron books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book several years ago as a middle schooler. Overall i would say that it is a good story. It falls along the classic fantasy epic series. My only real complaint is that it is an easy read (which isnt my thing). This is a good book for children between 4th-8th grade in my oppinion.
Anonymous 5 months ago
A psych walks in and kills all of the owls and the guardian.
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Is he, he is my favorite charecter.
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jcwhimsies More than 1 year ago
this book is truly one of my favorites. the characters are very likeable and fun to read about. this book is extremely absorbing and i couldn't put it down! i cant wait to read the rest in the series.
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SteelpenLS More than 1 year ago
T. A. Barron wrote a winner with this story about friends and how they got together in this book one of three. The way he wrote it made it easy to follow the story on there mission to save there world from evil and destroy life as they how it.
arianaxg More than 1 year ago
It was thrilling and adventurous.
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KrissyWhit8118 More than 1 year ago
"The Great Tree of Avalon: Child of the Dark Prophecy" by T.A. Barron is a very well written and interesting science fiction novel. This novel tells the story of four characters: Scree the eagleman, Tamwyn the human, Briana the elf, and Ellie, the priestess. All of them are on a journey to restore peace in their homeland, Avalon. They must defeat the wizard (who's name is unknown) who is trying to lead Avalon with his evil powers. On their journey they face many different challenges but always find a way to get through them. The four characters learn what true friendship means, how to love and lose, and work together. The positives of this book, is the plot the author put in was suspenseful and full of action that you were able to picture in your head. Another positive was the characters were new, different, and had a mix of personalities. Some negatives of the book was at times, it tended to switch from one character's thoughts, to another character's thoughts and you end up confused and wondering which character you are reading about. Also, the author set up the book as if you were supposed to know all about Avalon, and the different places within it, but you don't. An example is in the beginning the novel states: "Long ago in Fireroot there was a mother and a son..." but you don't know where Fireroot is or what it is. The writing style of the author is a little harder and complex to read. T.A. Barron used third person omniscient narrative which is knowing what all characters are thinking/doing. The author used long, complex sentences that were sometimes hard to understand. However, T.A. Barron used sensory details of smell and touch which made the multiple settings of the book vividly pictured in your mind. Also, the tone of the book seemed more loose and casual making you feel comfortable about the writing. The word choice of the author was longer words that the reader may not have heard of. Other similar novels/short stories are "The Great Tree" by T.A. Barron. It is said to be a "must read" and very interesting. "Number The Stars" by T.A. Barron is the second book of the "Great Tree" series, and is exciting, thrilling, and the characters are even better than the first novel. I recommend "The Great Tree of Avalon" because of the vivid pictures that are painted in your mind when the author talks about the settings and characters. The novel has an interesting twist to it, and is different than many other novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book put me to sleep several times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago