Guardian of the Balance (Merlin's Descendants Series #1)

Guardian of the Balance (Merlin's Descendants Series #1)

4.6 8
by Irene Radford
     
 

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Her name was Arylwren - Wren to those she numbered among her friends. She was the child who should not have been, daughter of Myrddin Emrys - The Merlin - and Deirde - The Morrigan - high priestess of the Druids. Both had been promised to the gods, and Myrddin, gifted with prophecy from childhood, has been sworn to eternal celibacy in exchange for the Sight. As a…  See more details below

Overview

Her name was Arylwren - Wren to those she numbered among her friends. She was the child who should not have been, daughter of Myrddin Emrys - The Merlin - and Deirde - The Morrigan - high priestess of the Druids. Both had been promised to the gods, and Myrddin, gifted with prophecy from childhood, has been sworn to eternal celibacy in exchange for the Sight. As a child Wren roamed the land with her father, the two welcomed everywhere for the bardic tales and the information they brought. Thus The Merlin could secretly watch over his other charges: Arthur, who would one day be King, and the other youths who would prove Arthur's most loyal followers. During their travels Myrddin taught his daughter of the old ways and the small magics and bardic skills. But even The Merlin could not foresee the power with which Wren had been blessed. Nor did Wren tell him of the visions which had been given to her alone: images of war to come, of a forbidden passion brought to fruition, and of those whom she loved in peril of being devoured by all-consuming forces of darkness. She only knew that she must learn to master the talents she had been born with, for a time would come when she must become both sword and shield for The Merlin, for Arthur, and for the people who would be put in her charge.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The protagonist of this first novel in a fantasy series of the tales of King Arthur is Arylwren, nicknamed Wren, daughter of Myrddin Emrys, The Merlin, and Deirdre, high priestess of the Druids. Raised among her father's wards, Wren falls in love with one such ward, Curryl, who, to no reader's surprise, turns out to be the eventual Arthur, Ard Rhi (High King) of Britain. Meanwhile, to protect her from political and religious intrigues, her father forces Wren into marriage with the abusive Carradoc, already involved in an incestuous affair with his demon-ridden, promiscuous, magic-working daughter, Nimue. Arylwren has a long and difficult journey through life, rescuing her father from Morgaine (in the novel as in legend, a sorceress) and her retainers from her husband, and eventually dying while bearing Arthur's child. This is not an impressive addition to the canon of Arthuriana, despite obvious folkloric expertise and several good passages (the two rescues head the list). Wren is more a collection of virtues than a believable human being. The author seems torn between scholarship about the Celts and modern neopagan images of them. And the sexual politics are piled on with an overly lavish hand. Much of the legend is here, including the extraction of Excalibur from the stone and the love of Lancelot and a Guinevere so pathetic one wonders what the man saw in her. Unfortunately, all the elements are so jumbled together that much of the spirit of the classic legend gets buried. (Mar.)
Library Journal
As the daughter of Merlin and the goddess whom he serves, Wren grows up in the shadow of the boy who will one day inherit the title of Pendragon. Despite a loveless marriage and the enmity of her husband's family, Wren pursues a destiny spun for her by the goddess of the land. With this first in a series of novels focusing on the mythical bloodline of Merlin, Radford embarks on an ambitious project that should have certain appeal for fans of Arthurian legend and goddess-centered magic. A good choice for most libraries.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780886778262
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/01/1999
Series:
Merlin's Descendants Series, #1
Pages:
448
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.65(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Irene Radford, author of the Dragon Nimbus (The Glass Dragon, The Perfect Princess, The Loneliest Magician, The Wizard's Treasure) and the Dragon Nimbus History (The Dragon's Touchstone, The Last Battlemage, The Renegade Dragon) series, often appears at conventions in the Oregon-California area. She is the author of the Stargods and Merlin's Descendants series as well, and is also one of the founder of the Book View Cafe. She can be contacted via her website, www.ireneradford.com.

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Guardian of the Balance (Merlin's Descendants Series #1) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Marz2242 More than 1 year ago
I first read this book years ago from my local library. I was meant to share the book with my mom but I couldn't put it down I took it to school and read whenever I could. After that one time we couldn't find the book again (my mom also got hooked on it) when my fiance got me the nook for my birthday the first thing I did was Google this book. As soon as I found it and had the money I bought it. Again I couldn't put this book down. The plot grips you and keeps you hooked till the last page where I will admit I did cry with the sadness of it. Guardian of the Balance really highlights how hard it was to keep the old religion in the time of King Arthur and his knights. It also gives us a whole new look in to Arthur and Merlin's lives. We see Arthur as the young man who didn't know his destiny and how he grew into the king we know him to be. We also see Merlin in a new role as a father to the main character Wren.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read book!!!!! Kept me on my toes must be read with an open mind book that has many historic truths mixed with fantasy.
Serinde24 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book in a series of novels focusing on the mythical bloodline of Merlin. This story is set in the late 5th century and early 6th century. The protagonist of this first novel is Arylwren, nicknamed Wren, the daughter of Merlin and the goddess whom he serves. Wren grows up in the shadow of and falls in love with the boy who will one day inherit the title of Pendragon. Meanwhile, to protect her from political and religious intrigues, her father forces Wren into a loveless marriage. Wren has a long and difficult journey through life and pursues a destiny spun for her by the goddess of the land, but whose contributions to Briton behind the scenes make her as important as Arthur himself. Wren must balance the old with the new and her love with her duty. This is not the first book Radford has ever written, but it feels like it. The writing style in the first half of the book is rough, and the story line is choppy. The second half of the book things begin to move smoother as Radford’s writing improves. During the first half of the book, Radford throws out details regarding many Celtic rituals and Gods with no real enhancement to the storyline, it seems almost as if she want to show off her knowledge rather than enhance her story. Thankfully, in the second half of the book the Celtic ritual details do enhance the story line and makes the reading much more enjoyable. It is the second half of the book that drew me in, and I had trouble putting it down. Radford kept most of the classic Arthurian legend details but her own spin on them that made the story seem fresh and engaging. The personalities and reasons behind the actions of well known characters such as Morgaine and Merlin mad the story seem new and sometimes I wished for different outcomes than what I knew must happen. There are also new players to the legend working in the background that add some depth to the story and provide new antagonists to thwart Arthur, Wren and Merlin, and lead to the conclusion that we all know must happen. For example Nimue, is corrupted by her greed for power and her laziness to complete a task as instructed, if here flaws did not hinder her so, she could have been a larger threat than she was. But, if her father Carrdoc had not been such a brutal man, she may have been able to user her power for good, and at first I felt sorry for her, in the end she got what her deeds deserved, but I still felt sympathy for the character, which shows that when Radford choose to focus on the story and the characters she could weave a magical tale. I love that fact that “Guardian of the Balance” follows Arthur and Wren from childhood to death, and sets up the next book to be about their decedents rather than carrying the story of Arthur and Wren. I am looking forward to “Guardian of the Truth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nprfan1 More than 1 year ago
Radford deviates quite liberally from the Arthur legend we all know, but not enough so that the story isn't recognizable. And she takes one liberty that is essential to the plot of this and the other books in this series. In the actual legend Merlin never married, nor did he have any children - though the woman Nimue did indeed cause his downfall by seducing him. Here, Merlin breaks his vows of celibacy before the story of Arthur begins (which we learn in a brief prologue) and is punished for it by the gods. The result of that breach of faith is his daughter, Arylwren (Wren for short), who is the actual central figure of this story. She wanders the country with her father, studies in Avalon for several years, and becomes a powerful sorceress in her own right - powerful enough to challenge both Nimue and the woman history will know as Morgan Le Fey. But her life is not a happy one. She is forced into marriage with a man she cannot love and who treats women like cattle, while the man she truly loves marries a lady named Guinevere. Nevertheless, Wren does her part to hold Arthur's Britain together for as long as she and her Da can - but in the end, as we all know, the Golden Age is doomed. Not, however, before Wren finds some happiness by perpetuating her family's line. Radford's first book in the series "Merlin's Descendants" is a grand beginning to what promises to be a wonderful story. This is by far the best feminist take on the Arthurian legend since Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon" and its succeeding tales. I definitely look forward to the next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books that I've read (and I've read quite a few!). I couldn't put it down, even though I was up until the middle of the night. In the year since I first read this book, I've reread it five times. Very belieable story, and wonderfully written. You really should read this book, now!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. It made me feel if I were there in the book it was great! It kept me guessing the whole way through. It was totally different from the other Arthur and Merlin books I have read. :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked Mists of Avalon and The Once and Future King, you'll like Guardian of the Balance. I'm currently reading the 2nd book of the series and looking for the third. This story has everything I like about a book. First, the story line moves quickly, giving enough detail that it is easy to follow, yet, not so much detail that the story gets bogged down. I'm sure that when I go back and read this book again, I will find details I missed the first time through that will make it like reading another whole new book. This book is first and formost a story. It entertains. That is what it is supposed to do. Thanks Irene for the great tale and taking me along in your story