Merlin (Pendragon Cycle Series #2)

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An enchanting tale of love and loss, glory and grandeur, set in the twilight of Rome's power...where the Celtic chieftains of Britain battle to save their land from an onrushing darkness...In this modern classic, Stephen Lawhead presents a majestic retelling of Western literature's most compelling epic. Merlin. His golden eyes saw the shape of a world yet to be. His wisdom would light the path of the coming King. Born of a union between druid and faery, he was trained as a bard and schooled in the ways of battle....
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Merlin (Pendragon Cycle Series #2)

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Overview

An enchanting tale of love and loss, glory and grandeur, set in the twilight of Rome's power...where the Celtic chieftains of Britain battle to save their land from an onrushing darkness...In this modern classic, Stephen Lawhead presents a majestic retelling of Western literature's most compelling epic. Merlin. His golden eyes saw the shape of a world yet to be. His wisdom would light the path of the coming King. Born of a union between druid and faery, he was trained as a bard and schooled in the ways of battle. But his heart and calling were greater than a warrior's. Son of the great Taliesin, the song of his father coursed through his soul. Yet his life and mission were to be his own. And though sovereignty was his, he would lay it aside to serve a king of his own choosing. As his powers transcended those of mortal men, so, too, would his trials, his griefs...and the dark might of his most fearsome enemy. In the twilight of Rome's rule over the Island of the Mighty, as smaller men vied for ascendancy, his would be the hand to lay the foundations of a new order - the Kingdom of Summer...and Arthur, Pendragon of Britain.

This is the story of the Island of the Mighty, of warring battlechiefs and bloody invaders . . . of the hidden Hill Folk and the waning power of Rome. It is the story of a vision of the Kingdom of Summer and a sword set in stone. It is the story of Britain's greatest wizard--Merlin.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780891074366
  • Publisher: Crossway Books
  • Publication date: 7/28/1988
  • Series: Pendragon Cycle Series , #2
  • Pages: 448

Meet the Author

Stephen Lawhead

Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead makes his home in Austria with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

1

Cc

Many years have come and gone since I awakened in this worlds-realm. Too many years of darkness and death, disease, war, and evil. Yes, very much evil.

But life was bright once, bright as sunrise on the sea and moonglow on water, bright as the fire on the hearth, bright as the red-gold torc around my grandfather Elphin's throat. Bright, I tell you, and full of every good thing.

I know that every man recalls something of the same golden sheen in life's beginning, but my memories are not less real or true for that.

Merlin. a curious name. Perhaps. No doubt my father would have chosen a different name for his son. But my mother can be forgiven for her lapse. Merlin Myrddin among my father's people suits me. Yet, every man has two names: the one he is given, and the one he wins for himself.

Emrys is the name I have won among men and it is my own.

Emrys, Immortal. Emrys, Divine Emrys Wledig, king and prophet to his people. Ambrosius it is to the Latin speakers, and Embries to the people of southern Britain and Lloegres.

But Myrddin Emrys am I to the Cymry of the hill-bound fastness of the west. And because they were my father's people, I feel they are my own as well. Although my mother long ago taught me the folly of this belief, it comforts me much, I suppose, as it must have comforted my father in his times of doubt.

And as there is much evil in the world, there is much doubt also. This is not the least of the Adversary's servants. And there are so many others .

Well, and well, get on with it, Mumbler. What treasures from your plundered store will you lay before us?

I take up my staff and stir the embers and I see again the images of my earliest memory: Ynys Avallach, the Isle of Avallach. It is the home of my grandfather, King Avallach, the Fisher King, and the first home I ever knew. It was here in these polished halls of his palace that I took my first faltering steps.

See, here are the white-blossomed apple groves, the salt marshes and mirror-smooth lake below the looming Tor, the whitewashed shrine on the nearby hill. And there is the Fisher King himself: dark and heavy-browed like a summer thunderstorm, stretched on his pallet of red silk, Avallach was a fearful figure to a child of three, though kind as the heart within him would allow.

And here is my mother, Charis, tall and slim, of such regal bearing as to shame all pretenders, and possessing a grace that surpasses mere beauty. Golden-haired Daughter of Lleu-Sun, Lady of the Lake, Mistress of Avallon, Queen of the Faery her names and titles, like my own, proliferate with time all these and more men call her, and they are not wrong.

I was, I knew, the sole treasure of my mother's life; she was never at any pains to disguise the fact. Good Dafyd, the priest, gave me to know that I was a beloved child of the Living God, and his stories about God's Son, Jesu, kindled my soul with an early longing for paradise just as Hafgan, Chief Druid, wise and true, faithful servant in his own way, taught me the taste of knowledge, awakening a hunger I have never satisfied.

If there was want in the world, I knew nothing of it. Neither did I know fear or danger. The days of my childhood were blessed with peace and plenty. On Ynys Avallach, at least, time and the events of the wider world stood off, remote; trouble was heard merely as a muted distant murmur soft like the wailing of the bhean sidhe, the Little Dark People, the Hill Folk in the stone circles on the far hilltops; distant as the roar of a winter storm cresting mighty Yr Widdfa in the rockbound north.

Trouble there was, make no mistake. But in those sun-sweet days of my earliest remembrance we lived as the gods of an older time: aloof and unconcerned with the squabbles of the lesser beings around us. We were the Fair Folk, enchanted presences from the Westerlands living on the Glass Isle. Those who shared our waterworld of marsh and lake held us in great esteem and greater dread.

This had its uses. It served to keep strangers at a safe distance. We were not strong in the ways men respect strength, so the web of tales that grew around us served where force of arms did not.

If that sounds to you, in the age of reason and power, a weak, ineffectual thing, I tell you it was not. In that age, men's lives were hedged about with beliefs old as fear itself, and those beliefs were not easily altered, nor less easily abandoned.

Ah, but look! Here is Avallach standing before me on a dew-spangled morning, hand pressed to his side in his habitual gesture, smiling through his black beard as he would always smile when he saw me, saying, "Come, little Hawk, the fish are calling they are unhappy. Let us take the boat and see if we might liberate a few of them."

And, hand in hand, we go down the path to the lake to fish, Avallach working the oar, little Merlin holding tight to the gunwale with both small hands. Avallach sings, he laughs, he tells me sad stories of Lost Atlantis and I listen as only a child can listen, with the whole of my heart.

The sun climbs high over the lake, and I look back towards the reedy shore and there is my mother, waiting for me. When I look she waves and calls us back, and Avallach turns the boat and rows to meet her and we return to the palace. Although she never speaks of it, I know that she grows uneasy when I am too long from her sight.

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First Chapter

1
Cc
Many years have come and gone since I awakened in this worlds-realm. Too many years of darkness and death, disease, war, and evil. Yes, very much evil.
But life was bright once, bright as sunrise on the sea and moonglow on water, bright as the fire on the hearth, bright as the red-gold torc around my grandfather Elphin's throat. Bright, I tell you, and full of every good thing.
I know that every man recalls something of the same golden sheen in life's beginning, but my memories are not less real or true for that.
Merlin. a curious name. Perhaps. No doubt my father would have chosen a different name for his son. But my mother can be forgiven for her lapse. Merlin Myrddin among my father's people suits me. Yet, every man has two names: the one he is given, and the one he wins for himself.
Emrys is the name I have won among men and it is my own.
Emrys, Immortal. Emrys, Divine Emrys Wledig, king and prophet to his people. Ambrosius it is to the Latin speakers, and Embries to the people of southern Britain and Lloegres.
But Myrddin Emrys am I to the Cymry of the hill-bound fastness of the west. And because they were my father's people, I feel they are my own as well. Although my mother long ago taught me the folly of this belief, it comforts me much, I suppose, as it must have comforted my father in his times of doubt.
And as there is much evil in the world, there is much doubt also. This is not the least of the Adversary's servants. And there are so many others .
Well, and well, get on with it, Mumbler. What treasures from your plundered store will you lay before us?
I take up my staff and stir the embers and I see again the images of my earliest memory: Ynys Avallach, the Isle of Avallach. It is the home of my grandfather, King Avallach, the Fisher King, and the first home I ever knew. It was here in these polished halls of his palace that I took my first faltering steps.
See, here are the white-blossomed apple groves, the salt marshes and mirror-smooth lake below the looming Tor, the whitewashed shrine on the nearby hill. And there is the Fisher King himself: dark and heavy-browed like a summer thunderstorm, stretched on his pallet of red silk, Avallach was a fearful figure to a child of three, though kind as the heart within him would allow.
And here is my mother, Charis, tall and slim, of such regal bearing as to shame all pretenders, and possessing a grace that surpasses mere beauty. Golden-haired Daughter of Lleu-Sun, Lady of the Lake, Mistress of Avallon, Queen of the Faery her names and titles, like my own, proliferate with time all these and more men call her, and they are not wrong.
I was, I knew, the sole treasure of my mother's life; she was never at any pains to disguise the fact. Good Dafyd, the priest, gave me to know that I was a beloved child of the Living God, and his stories about God's Son, Jesu, kindled my soul with an early longing for paradise just as Hafgan, Chief Druid, wise and true, faithful servant in his own way, taught me the taste of knowledge, awakening a hunger I have never satisfied.
If there was want in the world, I knew nothing of it. Neither did I know fear or danger. The days of my childhood were blessed with peace and plenty. On Ynys Avallach, at least, time and the events of the wider world stood off, remote; trouble was heard merely as a muted distant murmur soft like the wailing of the bhean sidhe, the Little Dark People, the Hill Folk in the stone circles on the far hilltops; distant as the roar of a winter storm cresting mighty Yr Widdfa in the rockbound north.
Trouble there was, make no mistake. But in those sun-sweet days of my earliest remembrance we lived as the gods of an older time: aloof and unconcerned with the squabbles of the lesser beings around us. We were the Fair Folk, enchanted presences from the Westerlands living on the Glass Isle. Those who shared our waterworld of marsh and lake held us in great esteem and greater dread.
This had its uses. It served to keep strangers at a safe distance. We were not strong in the ways men respect strength, so the web of tales that grew around us served where force of arms did not.
If that sounds to you, in the age of reason and power, a weak, ineffectual thing, I tell you it was not. In that age, men's lives were hedged about with beliefs old as fear itself, and those beliefs were not easily altered, nor less easily abandoned.
Ah, but look! Here is Avallach standing before me on a dew-spangled morning, hand pressed to his side in his habitual gesture, smiling through his black beard as he would always smile when he saw me, saying, 'Come, little Hawk, the fish are calling they are unhappy. Let us take the boat and see if we might liberate a few of them.'
And, hand in hand, we go down the path to the lake to fish, Avallach working the oar, little Merlin holding tight to the gunwale with both small hands. Avallach sings, he laughs, he tells me sad stories of Lost Atlantis and I listen as only a child can listen, with the whole of my heart.
The sun climbs high over the lake, and I look back towards the reedy shore and there is my mother, waiting for me. When I look she waves and calls us back, and Avallach turns the boat and rows to meet her and we return to the palace. Although she never speaks of it, I know that she grows uneasy when I am too long from her sight.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 50 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2002

    Merlin...A Must Read

    If you read the book Merlin by Stephen Lawhead, you¿ll have to throw out the long white beard and pointed hat. Merlin is a historical fiction/fantasy with the classic good verses evil theme intertwined with famous British folklore. Merlin is the second book of the Pendragon Cycle. The three books in this series deal with the lives of Taliesin, Merlin, and Arthur. Merlin is the story of his life before Arthur came along. He was the son of an Atlantean princess and famous bard. Ever since his birth he was destined to become a king. As he grew he discovered he had special abilities and was a great soldier and warrior. Everything was going as good and normal as they could go somebody like Merlin. He had just married and perfectly happy until unexpected disaster changed his life forever. He realizes then it is his destiny to find the king that will unite Britain. Merlin is a very interesting and accurate story of this mysterious bard. It let me on to the not well-known little facts about the myth. The Lawhead wrote it made it very entertaining and it keeps you wondering what will happen next. Merlin makes much more interested in the folklore and myths about Merlin, Arthur, Excalibur, and other early British myths. The story is told through the eyes of Merlin which lets the reader get deep into the character and know what he is exactly thinking. One thing in the book I didn¿t enjoy was the way Lawhead would skip ahead in the story. That has the tendency to confuse the reader sometimes. I suggest reading the first book in the Pendragon Series, Taliesin, before Merlin. You get much more from Merlin if you read Taliesin first. You still could follow the story, but it would be more entertaining and fun if Taliesin came before Merlin. It takes a great deal of work to put all the pieces and rumors of Merlin¿s story and make an excellent story about his life. Stephen Lawhead did a stupendous job with his version.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    one of the best

    This book made me squeal with delight and cry when merlin explains his hardships. some of his actions showed much wisdom they were inspiring. Merlin has truly touched my heart. They day i started reading it i stayed up til 2 in the morning. I was just so captured by the flow of events and the wave of powerful words. in one day i had finished half of it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2013

    Evelyn

    Sits there and watches.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    Best read in the last 5 year!

    If you love history, driuds, fantasy and adventure this book is for you. The author delivers splender, history and fantasy. I love this writer. I have some much respect for his style and his obvious dedication to learning the history behind the tale. Fantastic book, Lawhead will be my favorite author for a long time to come. This emotional retelling of an old tale breathes life back into the fantastic history behind Merlin and King Arthur.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2012

    Nyuyihktu k

    Hkgnkhgjyyiyigj u .fbn t mfyiihiyiy mkyv . Uyu jyyi yiytigkygkgu

    0 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Blackpelt

    Cant post in camp

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2013

    Re-reading

    Through this last winter, I've been re-reading the pendragon cycle. STILL AWSOME!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 26, 2004

    Truely worth the reading!

    I read this book when I was in 7th grade and then again (quite a few years later) this past year. I have never yet found another book that surpasses this in any way. The way that Mr. Lawhead weaves the legend, the history, the fantasy, and his own origonal writing into one breathtaking saga is beyond me. I must warn you though, if you pick this book up, you will not be able to put it up. Throughout the book you may want to keep a box of tissues on hand because it is a definate heart-wrencher. If you are in any way interested in celtic history or legend, you have to read not only this book, but the others written by Mr. Lawhead. This series gave me a love for all things celtic and instilled in me a desire for good, solid literature.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2001

    Much More than a Magician

    A wonderful, exciting, and saddening tale, Merlin is by far one of the best books I've ever read. Born of a princess from the lost continent of Atlantis, and fathered by the bard Taliesin, Merlin rises above the evil around him. I was surprised at the Christianity that surrounded his figure. I enjoyed reading all that much more because he's not just another white bearded old sorcerer. Much of this book plays with earlier myth's, even from Malory's book. The 'magic' that Merlin worked in his day turns out to be a bunch of hoopla, and human error. Its funny though because Merlin's reputation is only amplified by it, frightening those that don't know him for the kind and wise soul that he is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2000

    wonderfully written

    I really enjoyed this book. The author has a superb writing style and does an excellent job telling the story of a time before Author and all of the trials given to Merlin to overcome.

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    Posted March 6, 2011

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    Posted May 18, 2010

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