The Merlin Effect (Adventures of Kate Series #3)

The Merlin Effect (Adventures of Kate Series #3)

4.9 10
by T. A. Barron

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From the award-winning author of The Ancient One and Heartlight comes a spellbinding novel about a young girl's mysterious encounter with the famed magician--Merlin. Reprint.


From the award-winning author of The Ancient One and Heartlight comes a spellbinding novel about a young girl's mysterious encounter with the famed magician--Merlin. Reprint.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Blending Arthurian legend and modern oceanography, Barron's (Heartlight; The Ancient One) lively tale boasts finely developed characters as well as fast-moving adventure. Thirteen-year-old Kate Gordon is assisting her father, an English-history professor, in his search for a sunken Spanish galleon off the Baja peninsula, when she rescues a whale that has gotten tangled in the expedition's equipment. That event propels the group into a quest for Merlin's legendary horn of power, hidden in the galleon, which in turn is surrounded by a huge whirlpool. After plunging into the whirlpool, Kate and her companions engage in an epic battle with Merlin's mortal enemy Nimue and her cadre of sea demons, who want to use the horn to extend their evil domain. Barron achieves a solid balance of mythology, environmental issues and scientific research procedures. The monsters are appropriately scary and malevolent, while the relationships among Kate, her father and the other members of the expedition are well drawn and touching. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
Library Journal
While pursuing rumors of a lost Spanish galleon and a mysterious-possibly magical-drinking horn connected with Arthurian lore, a historian and his teenage daughter are drawn into an undersea world where they witness the final confrontation between a pair of legendary enemies. The author of The Ancient One (Putnam, 1992) blends a wealth of sea lore with ancient myth and fast-paced adventure suitable for adult and YA fantasy lovers.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Singing whales, a sunken Spanish galleon, genetics, and Arthurian characters are all jumbled together in this complex fantasy. Kate Gordon, 13, whose previous adventures (Heartlight [1990] and The Ancient One [1992, both Philomel]) involved her in both time and space travel, here accompanies her historian father to the coast of Baja, California, where he hopes to discover one of Merlin's legendary lost treasures. The quest leads Kate to the center of a whirlpool, to the place beyond it, and in the end results in her saving the lives of her father and his coworkers. While Barron's writing style is neither as smooth nor his characters as well developed as those found in novels by Lloyd Alexander, Ursula LeGuin, or Madeleine L'Engle, the plot moves swiftly and background information is generally well integrated into the story. Fans of adventure films, particularly Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, will enjoy the intriguing mixture of contemporary life, historical detail, science, myth, and magic. While this title can be read independently, it will likely appeal most to readers already familiar with Barron's previous books. Fantasy buffs searching for fleshed-out characterizations, strong heroines, and a touch of humor would do well to check out titles by Tamora Pierce and Patricia Wrede, in addition to the classic works by the authors mentioned above.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Sally Estes
If 13-year-old Kate Gordon is the same 13-year-old Kate who is the protagonist in "Heartlight" (1990) and "The Ancient One" (1992), she is one busy teen, confronting and dispatching evil everywhere. In this companion to the other novels, she's at a remote lagoon in Baja California, where her father, one of the world's leading scholars on the legend of King Arthur, is searching for the lost Spanish galleon "Resurreccion" because research has led him to believe that the Horn of Merlin is aboard the ship. What ensues is a fast-paced adventure tale, both above and below the water, in which the ship turns out to be at the bottom of a mysterious whirlpool, and Kate and her dad become embroiled in the centuries-old struggle between the evil enchantress Nimue and the wizard Merlin for possession of the horn and its powers of immortality. Though characterizations lack dimension and the plot occasionally is too incredible, the story is steeped in Arthurian legend, which is the real draw here.

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Adventures of Kate Series, #3
Product dimensions:
6.25(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.93(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Merlin Effect

By Barron, T. A.

Tor Fantasy

Copyright © 1996 Barron, T. A.
All right reserved.

At Sea
Farther from shore, nearer to death.
With every pull of her paddle, Kate recalled the much-repeated warning about these waters. Yet today felt different. Today the sea looked tranquil, even inviting.
Her arms, brown after almost a month in the Baja California sun, churned rhythmically. The kayak cut through the water, slicing the glassy green walls that rose and fell like a heaving chest. As the protected lagoon receded behind her, open ocean stretched before her. The swollen sun drifted low on the horizon, glowing like a lump of melting gold.
A wave slapped the kayak, drenching her. She shook herself, pulled a piece of kelp off her forearm, then resumed paddling.
She glided past the forest of mangroves lining the mouth of the lagoon. Despite the low tide, she skirted within a few feet of their long, spindly roots. Planted in the mud, they resembled a family of long-legged waders. An immature heron resting on a branch watched her slide by, but Kate's attention had turned to a copper-stained mound at the end of the bay. The last dune. And beyond it, the breakers.
Never been out this far before, she thought. What a place to see the sunset! Too bad she had waited so long to venture out. Now only a few more days remained before she would have to leave all this for good.
She lay the paddle across her lap, licking the salt from her sunburned lips. As the vessel coastedquietly with the current, she listened to the trickle of water running down the ends of the paddle. Slowly, the sun ignited sea and sky with streaks of crimson. Just beneath the waves, a web of golden light shimmered.
A plover swooped past, barely a foot above her head, searching for a crab-meat supper. Meanwhile, two sandpipers, standing one legged in the shadow of the dune, chittered noisily next to the hissing, rushing waves. Kate drew in a deep breath, feeling the warmth of the fading sun on her face. At midday, it had struck with brutal force, yet now it soothed like a gentle massage.
As the current pulled her past the last dune, she scanned the line of whitecaps ahead. The breakers splashed and sucked, a stark barrier of volcanic rock. Yet the ocean beyond looked calm, serene, almost deserving of the name Pacific. At this moment, it was hard to believe all those tales of sudden squalls, murderous shoals, and swelling tides that had made this stretch of Mexican coast a sailor's nightmare for centuries. Not to mention the legendary Remolino de la Muerté, the Whirlpool of Death, discussed by the local people only in whispers.
True or not, those tales--along with the harshness of the desert landscape--had kept the population of this area to a few scattered fishing villages. Almost nobody came here by choice. That is, until her father plunked his research team at San Lazaro Lagoon.
With a flick of her paddle, she spun the kayak around to face the lagoon. At the far end sat the research camp, its white canvas tents washed in the rich colors of sunset. Behind them rose the flagpole, still sporting the purple T-shirt hoisted by her father when the official colors blew away, and the wind generator, its steel propeller spinning lazily. Close to the beach, the converted trawler Skimmer lay anchored. Not far away bobbed the silver-colored submersible, awaiting its next deep-water dive.
She shook her head. Dad was still working on the boat. Though she could not see him, she could hear the familiar sputtering of the aging trawler's engine. It didn't make any difference that the ship was almost beyond repair, that the project's days were numbered, or that a spectacular sunset was about to happen. He probably wouldn't budge to see a sea monster taking a bubble bath in the lagoon. Or the lost ship Resurreccíon, laden with treasure, rising out of the waves as the old legend predicted.
And the others on his team were no better. Terry constantly fiddled with his scientific equipment, whether in his tent, on the Skimmer, or on the team's two buoys. Isabella, for her part, divided her time between her makeshift laboratory and the submersible, which she pampered as if it were her own baby. She would be down inside its hatch right now, doing her evening maintenance, if she had not agreed yesterday to work the camp's radio constantly in a last-ditch attempt to get the project's permit extended.
During the past few weeks, Kate's job as cook and dishwasher for the team had allowed her plenty of time for exploring the beach, snorkeling, scaling dunes, or taking sunset kayak rides. None of the others had ever joined her, not even her father. So much for her high hopes of spending lots of time with him in this isolated lagoon. She had seen only a little more of him than she had of her mother, who was thousands of miles away at their home in New England.
For a while, she had at least been able to share supper with him when the group assembled in the main tent at the end of each day. Lately, though, even that tradition had suffered, as everyone worked later and later into the night. The specter of the project's permit expiring, with no results to show for the entire month, hung like a dark cloud over them. Especially her father. He had given up trying to learn anything useful from the villagers, and had spent the last twenty-four hours on the Skimmer, trying to adapt Terry's precious equipment to his own purposes. Outside of his increasingly tense arguments with Terry, his conversations had shrunk to a distracted thank-you to Kate whenever she brought him some food.
Not that this so-called team had much in common to talk about anyway. Isabella was a marine biologist, Terry a graduate student in undersea geology, Kate's father a historian. He was leader of the group in name only. About the only thing they managed to do cooperatively was to tow the submersible out to sea for Isabella's deep-water dives.
Kate dipped her paddle and heaved. The kayak spun like a leaf on the water. Once more she was facing the sinking sun. Its color had gone from gold to crimson, and it seemed squashed, as if a great boot were stepping on it.
With a start, she realized she had drifted out and was almost on top of the breakers. Rough water boiled just ahead. Quickly, she paddled a few furious strokes in reverse, then started to turn the craft around. Better to watch the sunset from inside the lagoon. That way she would be sure to get back in plenty of time to prepare supper.
Suddenly she halted. The breakers didn't really look so bad. Not nearly as dangerous as the rapids at Devil's Canyon where she had kayaked last summer. Sure, Dad had firmly cautioned her never to cross them. Yet he and Terry did it every day in the Skimmer to check the buoys. The white water would make a thrilling ride. She might not get another chance. And besides, she was thirteen now, old enough to make her own decisions.
Surveying the line of turbulence, she picked the best point to cross. Farther out, in the calmer waters of the sea, the team's two buoys floated, decorated with brightly colored equipment. The first buoy seemed surprisingly close; the second, much farther out. In the distance, beyond the second buoy, a spiraling tower of mist hovered over the sea, swirling slowly. For an instant, the mist thinned just enough to reveal an ominous pursing of the waves, rising out of the water like an undersea volcano.
Farther from shore, nearer to...
Kate bit her lip. It was probably nothing more than a reef. And even if it were something more dangerous, it was too far away to pose any risk. Whatever, it seemed to taunt her, daring her to cross the breakers.
She glanced over her shoulder at the research camp. No one would miss her. Absorbed as he was, her father wouldn't even notice if supper came a little late tonight.
Just as she raised her paddle, a lone gull screeched overhead. She hesitated, looked again out to sea. The distant mist had thickened once more, concealing whatever she had seen. Sucking in her breath, she propelled herself at the breakers.
The wind gusted slightly, playing with her braid, as she drove the kayak forward. Effortless as a frigate bird soaring on the swells, she raced across the water.
"Hooeeee!" she shouted aloud as the craft plunged into the whitecaps. She paddled even faster. The narrow boat almost seemed to lift above the waves.
With a final splash, she cleared the breakers completely. The water grew calm again. Breathing hard, she placed the paddle across her lap and glided toward the sunset.
It was nearly time. Rays of peach and purple mingled with the sky's brighter flames. The rippling crests around her quivered with scarlet light. Water birds fell silent. The sun pressed lower and lower, flattening against the sea. Then, in the blink of an eye, it dropped below the horizon.
She shifted her gaze to the strange spiral of mist beyond the second buoy. Was it only her imagination, or could she hear a distant humming sound from that direction?
Absently, she drummed the shaft of the paddle. A trick of the ocean air, perhaps? The local villagers claimed to have seen and heard many bizarre things off this coast. Isabella, who had grown up not far from here, had told Kate many of their tales during lulls in her lab work.
Too many, probably. One night last week, while paddling in the lagoon, Kate had heard what sounded like wispy voices, wailing and moaning in the distance. What was she to think? That she had heard the ghosts of the Resurreccíon's sailors, swallowed by the whirlpool nearly five centuries ago? She was too embarrassed to tell anyone about it, or about how poorly she had slept that night. She was too old for that kind of thing.
Yet...her father didn't seem to be. He had spent his whole career as a historian trying to prove that some pretty far-fetched stories could actually be true.
Jim Gordon had a reputation as an accessible man, one of the most approachable people at the university. People rarely bothered to call him professor. Just Jim would do. No matter that he was one of the world's leading scholars on the legend of King Arthur, that he had done more than anyone to prove that Merlin was not merely a fictional wizard but a real person, a Druid prophet who lived long ago in what is now Wales. His book The Life of Merlin had become not only a classic study of the links between myth and history but a popular best-seller as well.
Many, including Kate, wondered why a Spanish galleon wrecked off Baja California should be of any interest to him, a professor of early English history. But on that subject, he kept silent. Even to his colleagues. Even to his daughter.
Kate slapped the water angrily with her paddle. Jim this. Jim that. If he were so approachable, how come she found it so hard to get any time with him? Something had happened to the father she used to know, the father who used to enjoy nothing more than leaning back in his chair and telling a good story about ancient heroes and gallant quests.
A briny breeze blew over the water. Feeling a bit chilly, she reached under the kayak's spray skirt and took out a crumpled blue cotton shirt. As she unsnapped her life jacket to slip into the shirt, she looked back toward the camp. A band of pink shone in the sky above the tents. Although it was still light, a sprinkling of stars had started to appear overhead.
Then she saw the moon, rising out of the eastern horizon like an evening sun. At first only a wispy halo lifted above the desert hills, then a slice of gold, then a disc of dazzling orange. Higher the moon rose, climbing slowly into the twilight sky. It cast a fiery path across the water, a path that burned its way to her tiny vessel, flooding her with amber light.
Turning again out to sea, she followed the rippled path to the buoys and beyond. The waves glittered, as if paved with gold.
She took up her paddle. There was just enough time, if she hurried, for a brief sprint to the first buoy before dark. Kitchen duty could wait for once. She grinned, picturing the amazed look on her father's face when she would tell him what she had done.
She began to paddle toward the open ocean.
Copyright 1994 by Thomas A. Barron


Excerpted from The Merlin Effect by Barron, T. A. Copyright © 1996 by Barron, T. A.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are saying about this

Natalie Babbitt
Another remarkable achievement.
Madeleine L'Engle
Here is a story to celebrate! Readers young and old will savor this tale.

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 Merlin Effect (Adventures of Kate Series #3) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have loved T.A. Barron ever since i read the Lost Years of Merlin. I started the series in 6th grade and stopped for a while because i got hooked on the Inheritance Series (Eragon, eldest, TBA). I picked up the series again this yeah,(8th Grade) and finished the entire series, finished the Great tree od Avalon series, finished this, and started reading the Ancient One. This is a Great middle school series for anyone who loves fantasy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Merlin Effect book was great, and one of my favorites. Actually, I have a lot of favorite books, but oh, well. Anyways, don't they have a continuation of this, or something, and I wish so. It's interesting. It makes me want to check out the author's other books, and he sounds cool.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was great, and I enjoyed it alot, I noticed some similarity in between this book and other T. A. Barron's other books, such as how everything started slow and picked up speed. Also that, as is his style, alot happened at the end of the book and everything added up only at the end of the book. I particularly liked the way he tied real world science into the book and used real places in the book. He also blended fact into fiction well enough that they match in a belivable way, it was one of his better novles, though I am still a fan of hit The Lost Years of Merlin series, and was somewhat disapointed that The merlin afect did not tie into the plot of that series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best books i have ever read! It takes you into the book, its a great book for a rainy day.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this book an intersting tell takes place the plot changes, many times. And has many turns Kate the main charactor gets tricked by the caractor Nimue. Merlins evil enemy. To find out more read on. But if you don't have a good imaginationdont even try reading this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book creates suspense, mystery, magic, and fun-no doubt. T.A.Barron is the best author for great thrillers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book my senior year in college and it became my favorite book. I am now a librarian and I recommend this book to all my students. It is perfect for all ages. It deals with history and fantasy, intertwinning the two so perfectly that both young and old can grasp the ideals of this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book for an assignment for school, I read this in about 4 weeks. Tom Barron is the man for books that keep you coming back for more. It includes suspense, thrill, mystery, and magic. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book i'm looking to buy my own copy because i checked the book out of my school library , my reading teacher (Mrs.Read) recommended it because she knows I love to read.