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The Mirror of Merlin (Lost Years of Merlin Series #4)

The Mirror of Merlin (Lost Years of Merlin Series #4)

4.7 30
by T. A. Barron

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Young Merlin discovers a magic mirror capable of altering a person's destiny.


Young Merlin discovers a magic mirror capable of altering a person's destiny.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Christopher Moning
Book four of T. A. Barron's "The Lost Years of Merlin" series finds fifteen-year-old Merlin exploring the Haunted Marsh, the least known and most feared place on the legendary Isle of Fincayra. Accompanying him is his friend Hallia, a beautiful girl who can morph into a deer. There is a blight on the land, and young Merlin and Hallia are determined to restore order on the island. They are befriended by a delightful creature called a Ballymag, and a mysterious youth named Ector, who helps lead the pair to the Flaming Tree and the Seventh Wise Tool, which had been believed to be lost forever. Besieged by the evil sorceress, Nimue, Merlin escapes through a magic mirror, where he must confront his deepest fears--as well as the living image of his future self. Merlin travels through time in order to rescue Fincayra; on the way he learns more about his destiny--to become the greatest wizard of all time.
The Lost Years of Merlin series continues as Merlin travels into the future to encounter his older self, now imprisoned by the sorceress Nimue in the crystal cave. There he learns the power of the choices open to him, which will shape his own future and that of the young king he will mentor. Nimue, meanwhile, has gone back through the dark mirror to Fincayra, where she confronts the youthful Merlin in a vicious attempt to defeat him before he claims his wizard's powers. Merlin must call on several of his old allies for aidbut it is some surprising new friends who turn the tide. In most series one volume serves as a placeholder, moving the characters from scene setting to denouement. This book may be the placeholder for Barron. Some familiar characters and themes are revisited and a few new ones are introduced, most notably young Arthur. But in spite of the considerable action, the story has the feeling of marking time. Poor Merlin also suffers from an overdose of portentousness. " 'Whatever difficult times the future holds in store for you, this thing will never change.' My voice deepened. 'You have helped someone, beyond any doubt, on this day. And Ector [Arthur]... I will never forget it.' " Such speeches give credence to the alternate legend that has Merlin imprisoned in a treehere the process of turning wooden has already begun. Despite these flaws, fans of the series will gobble it up. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 1999, Philomel, Ages 12 to 15, 272p, $19.99. Reviewer: Kathleen Beck
This fourth book in the series has young Merlin leaping (teleporting) himself and two friends into the wilds of the Haunted Marsh. There he encounters hungry giants, hostile marsh ghouls, and an enemy out of his past and his future. Wounded near to death, he follows young Ector, a boy he meets in the woods, into a magical mirror, where he encounters his future and glimpses his destiny. Though somewhat slow moving, this series continually entertains. While each book tells one complete story, it is helpful to have read the whole series. A must for libraries with the rest of the series. (Bk. 4 of The Lost Years of Merlin) Category: Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Berkley, Ace, 288p., $6.99. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Deirdre B. Root; Ref. Libn., Middletown P.L., Middletown, OH SOURCE: KLIATT, March 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 2)

Product Details

San Val, Incorporated
Publication date:
Merlin Saga Series , #4
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


I strained, throwing all my strength into the task, but my shadow refused to move.

Again I tried. Still, the stubborn shadow would not budge. Closing my eyes-a meaningless gesture, since they couldn't see anyway, having been replaced by my second sight over three years ago-I tried my best to concentrate. To perceive nothing but my shadow. That was not easy, on a bright summer day like this, though it still seemed easier than my task.

All right, then. Clearing my mind, I pushed aside the sound of rustling grasses on this alpine meadow, and of splattering streamwater nearby. No smells of springmint, or lavender, or pepperwort-almost strong enough to make me sneeze. No boulder, roughened by yellow lichens, resting beneath me; no mountains of Varigal, streaked with snow even in summer, rising above me. No wondering about whether I might encounter my old friend, the giant Shim, in these hills so near his home. And, most difficult of all, no drifting into thoughts about Hallia.

Just my shadow.

Starting from the bottom, I traced the shadow's outline on the grass. There were my boots, leather straps dangling, planted firmly on top of the boulder. Then my legs, hips, and chest, looking less scrawny than usual because of my billowing tunic. Protruding from one side, my leather satchel-and from the other, my sword. Next, my arms, bent with hands resting on hips. And my head, turned sideways just enough to show the tip of my nose, which, much to my consternation, had started to hook downward in recent months. Already more beak than nose, it reminded me of the hawk who had inspired my name. Then, of course, came my hair: even blacker than my shadow. And, I grumbled to myself, just as unruly.

Move, I commanded silently, all the while keeping my own body motionless.

No response.

Lift yourself, I intoned, focusing all my thoughts on the shadow's right arm.

Still no response.

I released a growl. Already I had wasted the entire morning trying to coax it to move independently. So what if shadow-working was a skill reserved only for the eldest wizards-true mages? I never was much good at waiting.

I drew a long, slow breath. Lift. Lift, I say.

For a long moment, I stared, exasperated, at the dark form. Then . . . something started to change. Slowly, very slowly, the shadow's outline started to quiver. The edges of its shoulders grew blurry, while its arms quaked so violently they seemed to swell in size.

Better. Much better. I forced myself not to move, not even to brush away the bothersome drops of perspiration rolling down my temples. Now, right arm. Lift yourself.

With a sharp jerk, the shadow's arm straightened. And lifted-all the way above the head. Though I held my own body fixed, a thrill raced through me-a mixture of excitement, and discovery, and pride in my growing powers. At last, I had done it! Worked my own shadow! I could hardly wait to show Hallia.

Though I felt as if I could fly off the boulder, I kept myself still. Only my widening grin betrayed my feelings. Returning my attention to the shadow, its arm still raised, I savored my success. To think that I, barely fifteen years of age, could move my shadow's-

Left arm? My whole chest constricted. It should have moved the right, not the left! With a roar, I stomped my boots and waved my own arms angrily. The shadow, as if in spite, did the same back at me.

"You foolish shadow! I'll teach you some obedience!"

"And when will that be?" asked a resonant voice behind me.

I spun around to face Hallia. Stepping as lightly as a doe, she seemed more supple than the summer grass. Yet I knew that, even in her young woman's form, she was ever alert to any possible danger-ready to run like the deer she could become in an instant. As the sunlight glinted on her auburn braid, her immense brown eyes watched me with humor.

"Obedience, if I recall, isn't one of your strong points."

"Not me, my shadow!"

Her eyes sparkled mischievously. "Where leaps the stag, so leaps his shadow."

"But-but I . . ." My cheeks grew hotter as I stammered. "Why do you have to appear right now? Just when I've botched everything?"

She stroked her long chin. "If I didn't know better, I might think you had been hoping to impress me."

"Not at all." I clenched my fists, then shook them at my shadow. Seeing it wave its own fists back at me only made me angrier. "Fool shadow! I just want to make it do what it should."

Hallia bent to study a sprig of lupine, as deep purple as her robe. "And I just want to keep you a little humble." She sniffed the tower of petals. "That's usually Rhia's responsibility, but since she's off learning the speech of the canyon eagles-"

"With my horse to carry her," I grumbled, trying to stretch my stiff shoulders.

"True enough." She glanced up and smiled, more with her eyes than with her lips. "She can't, after all, run like a deer."

Something about her words, her tone, her smile, made my anger vanish like mist in the morning sun. Even my shoulders seemed to relax. How, I couldn't begin to explain. Yet all at once, I recalled the secrets she had shown me of transforming myself into a deer, as well as the joys of running beside her-with hooves instead of feet, four legs instead of two; with keen sight, and keener smell; with the ability to hear not just through my ears, but through my very bones.

"It's . . . well, it's-ahhh . . . ," I stammered. "Nice, I suppose. To be here. With you, I mean. Just-well, just you."

Her doelike eyes, suddenly shy, turned aside.

Emboldened, I climbed down from the rock. "Even in these days, these weeks, we've been traveling together, we haven't had much time alone." Tentatively, I reached for her hand. "If it hasn't been one of your deer people, or some old friend, it's been-"

She jerked her hand away. "So you haven't liked what I've shown you?"

"No. I mean yes. That's . . . oh, that's not what I'm saying! You know how much I've loved being here-seeing your people's Summer Lands: those high meadows, the birthing hollow, all the hidden trails through the trees. It's just that, well, the best part has been . . ."

As my voice faltered, she cocked her head. "Yes?"

I glanced her way, meeting her gaze for barely an instant. But it was enough to make me forget what I had wanted to say.

"Yes?" she coaxed. "Tell me, young hawk."

"It's, well, been . . . Fumblefeathers, I don't know!" My brow furrowed. "Sometimes I envy old Cairpré, tossing off poems whenever he likes."

She half grinned. "These days, it's mostly love poems to your mother."

More flustered than ever, I exclaimed, "That's not what I meant!" Then, seeing her face fall, I realized my gaffe. "I mean . . . when I said that, what I meant was-not, well, not what I meant to say."

She merely shook her head.

Again, I stretched my hand toward her. "Please, Hallia. Don't judge me by my words."

"Hmfff," she grunted. "Then how should I judge you?"

"By something else."

"Like what?"

A sudden inspiration seized me. I grasped her hand, pulling her across the grass. Together we ran, our feet pounding in unison. As we neared the edge of the stream, our backs lowered, our necks lengthened, our arms stretched down to the ground. The bright green reeds by the water's edge, glistening with dew, bent before us. In one motion, one body it seemed, we sprang into the air, flowing as smoothly as the stream below us.

We landed on the opposite bank, fully transformed into deer. Swinging about, I reared back on my haunches and drew a deep breath, filling my nostrils with the rich aromas of the meadow-and the full-hearted freedom of a stag. Hallia's foreleg brushed against my own; I replied with a stroke of an antler along her graceful neck. An instant later we were bounding together through the grass, prancing with hooves high, listening to the whispering reeds and the many secret murmurs of the meadow. For a time measured not in minutes but in magic, we cavorted.

When, at last, we stopped, our tan coats shone with sweat. We trotted to the stream, browsed for a while on the shoots by the bank, then stepped lightly into the shallows. As we walked upstream, our backs lifted higher, our heads taller. Soon we were no longer wading with our hooves, but with our feet-mine booted, Hallia's bare.

In silence, we clambered up the muddy bank and stepped through the rushes. When we reached the boulder, scene of my unsuccessful shadow-working, Hallia faced me, her doe's eyes still alight. "I have something to tell you, young hawk. Something important."

I watched her, my heart pounding like a great hoof within my chest.

She started to speak, then caught herself. "It's-oh, it's so hard to put into words."

"I understand, believe me." Gently, I ran my finger down her arm. "Later perhaps."

Hesitantly, she tried again. "No, now. I've been wanting to say this for a while. And the feeling has grown stronger with every day we've spent in the Summer Lands."

"Yes?" I paused, trying to swallow. "What is it?"

She edged a bit closer. "I want you to, to . . . know something, young hawk."

"Know what?"

"That I . . . no, that you-"

Suddenly a heavy object rammed into me, knocking me over backward. I rolled across the grass, stopping only at the edge of the stream. After untangling myself from my tunic, which had somehow wrapped itself around my head and shoulders, I leaped to my feet with a spray of mud. Grimacing, I grasped the hilt of my sword and faced my attacker.

But instead of lunging forward, I groaned. "Not you. Not now."

A young dragon, her purple and scarlet scales aglow, sat beside us. She was tucking her leathery wings, still quivering from flight, against her back. Her immense, gangly form obscured the boulder, as well as a fair portion of the meadow, which is why she had sent me sprawling when she landed. Only Hallia's quick instincts had spared her the same fate.

The dragon drew a deep, ponderous breath. Her head, nearly as large as my entire body, hung remorsefully from her huge shoulders. Even her wings drooped sadly, as did one of her blue, bannerlike ears. The other ear, as always, stuck straight out from the side of her head-looking less like an ear than a misplaced horn.

Hallia, seeing my angry expression, moved protectively to the dragon's side. She placed her hand on the end of the protruding ear. "Gwynnia's sorry, can't you see? She didn't mean any harm."

The dragon scrunched her nose and gave a deep, throaty whimper.

Hallia peered into her orange, triangular eyes. "She's only just learned to fly. Her landings are still a little clumsy."

"Little clumsy!" I fumed. "She might have killed me!"

I paced over to my staff, lying on the grass, and brandished it before the dragon's face. "You're as bad as a drunken giant. No, worse! At least he'd pass out eventually. You just keep getting bigger and clumsier by the day."

Gwynnia's eyes, glowing like lava, narrowed slightly. From deep within her chest, a rumble gathered, swelling steadily. The dragon suddenly stiffened and cocked her head, as if puzzled by the sound. Then, as the rumble faded away, she opened her gargantuan, teeth-studded jaws in a prolonged yawn.

"Be glad she hasn't learned yet how to breathe fire," cautioned Hallia. Quickly, she added, "Though I'm sure she'd never use it on a friend." She scratched the edge of the rebellious ear. "Would you, Gwynnia?"

The dragon gave a loud snort. Then, from the other end of the meadow, the barbed end of her tail lifted, curled, and moved swiftly closer. With the grace of a butterfly, the remotest tip of the tail alighted on Hallia's shoulder. There it rested, purple scales upon purple cloth, squeezing her gently.

Brushing some of the mud from my tunic, I gave an exasperated sigh. "It's hard to stay angry at either of you for long." I gazed into one of the dragon's bright eyes. "Forgive me, will you? I forgot-just for a moment-that you're never far from Hallia's side."

The young woman turned toward me. "For just a moment," she said softly, "I, too, forgot."

I nodded sadly. "It's no fault of yours."

"Oh, but it is." She stroked the golden scales of the barbed tail. "When I started singing to her in the evenings, all those songs I learned as a child, I had no idea she would grow so attached."

"Or so large."

Hallia nearly smiled. "I suppose we should never have let Cairpré give her such a weighty name, out of ancient dragon-lore, unless we expected her to live up to it someday."

"That's right-the name of the first queen of the dragons, mother of all their race." I chewed my lip, recalling the old legend. "The one who risked her own life to swallow the fire from a great lava mountain, so that she, and all her descendants, might also breathe flames."

At that, Gwynnia opened wide her jaws and gave another yawn, this time so loud that we both had to cover our ears. When at last the yawn ended, I observed, "Seems like the queen may need a nap." In a hopeful whisper, I added, "We may get to finish our conversation yet."

Hallia nodded, even as she shifted uneasily. But before she could say anything, a new sound sliced through the air. It was a high, mournful keening-the kind of sound that could only come from someone in the throes of death. Or, more accurately, someone for whom death itself would be a reprieve.

—From The Mirror of Merlin: The Lost Years of Merlin by T. A. Barron, Copyright (c) October 2001, Ace Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Inc., used by permission.

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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The Mirror of Merlin (Lost Years of Merlin Series #4) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book Mirror of Merlin shows how a young but powerful mage tires to save his birthplace from the clutches of evil. In this book, Merlin, along with his new friends, Halia and the ballymag, go into the marshes and try to fight a new evil that spreads a blight thoughout the land of Finacyra. This book is a fantastic addition to T.A. Barron's series of Merlin,
fantasy9 More than 1 year ago
It's a great book, and is very interesting. The Mirror of Merlin is the fourth book in its series, and is an awesome read. I could read this over and over again! This book has a large amount of adventure and fantasy. It's a must-read to all fantasy-genre fans!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is da bomb!! If you haven't read this book, then read it because you haven't enjoyed a real action book with out this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a really cool book. If you like magic, action, and conflict, this is your book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Mirror of Merlin is not another Harry Potter copy. Every idea in this book is novelty. In this part of Merlin's lost years, he falls in love with Hallia, the Deer Woman. They travel Fincayra's beautiful landscape to find out that the marsh ghouls have become quite unruly. What has caused the marsh ghouls to become so furious and what will Merlin find out about the marsh ghouls and more important, himself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although it was a bit confusing , it's still a great story. It is the first book in the series to rely heavily on the previous books. The enemy is from Book II, one character is from Book III, and if you hadn't read those, you may be a bit confused. Overall, it was a good fourth edition.
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A magical tale.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The series of the Lost Years of Merlin by T.A. Barron is another magical and fantasy series - Merlin leaps toward the Haunted Marsh where he will find the magical key - the last and seemingly lost of the Seven Wise tools- and also Nimue, a girl of the future who in the past had tried to decieve Merlin of his own staff, and a magical mirror to travel to places in the past and future, but you may get lost forever with the wrong turn, going in he finds out information of one of his destinies, one that won't rehappen... - a great book, though I had read it out of order, the only flaw was the ending of the book, the fact it seems so short but then again, most good books are like that... -
Guest More than 1 year ago
I appreciated the originality and style that T.A. Barron always puts into his work. But I would have liked this book even if the the writing wasn't any good because it has my 2 favorite things, Merlin and mirrors. I read all Merlin books the story hooks me and every author adds their own detail and style. I also love mirrors. I have a room in my house made completely out of mirrors so no mattter what I do I can always see myself. I really like myself. It was a great addition to an outstanding series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book! The 4th book of a 5 book series, and what i think is one of the best! I started reading it in 7th grade (and I'm still in 7th grade) And i think it rocks! I love the adventure Merlin takes into the future and how he meets his elder self, I think that would be so much fun. I have read the other books such as The Lost Years Of Merlin, The Seven Songs of Merlin, The Fires of Merlin, and The Wings Of Merlin (I know i read them out of order, but i still can catch up to stuff) and i think they are all great books! T.A. Barron is now one of my favorite authors.