Tomorrow's Magicby Pamela F. Service
have a lot in common. Both are misfits trying to avoid attention, and both are fascinated by Earl, a tall, calm, older boy with no recollection of his
It's 500 years after the nuclear holocaust that devastated the earth's population and left the few survivors dealing with unending winter. At their remote British boarding school, Wellington Jones and Heather McKenna
have a lot in common. Both are misfits trying to avoid attention, and both are fascinated by Earl, a tall, calm, older boy with no recollection of his past, but a remarkable knack for showing up when he is needed most.
When a blow to the head brings Earl's memory back, he claims that he is actually Merlin . . . a 2000-year-old wizard.
Originally published in two volumes in the mid-1980s, Pamela F. Service's creative, futuristic spin on the Camelot legend will appeal to Arthurian purists and fantasy lovers alike.
From the Hardcover edition.
Read an Excerpt
1 Summer Thaw
Wellington Jones awoke to the sound of dripping water. Drops fell from the eaves, then a whole patch of snow broke loose and rumbled off the roof. His eyes snapped open in excitement. They were having a June thaw!
He sat up, and the covers slid from his plump shoulders, letting a whoosh of cold air invade the bed. Hastily he pulled the coarse blankets around him and squinted across the small room. Of the two narrow windows set deeply into the stone wall, he looked eagerly at the one covered with real glass. The ice crystals that patterned it most of the year were gone.
If it was a real June thaw, this might be another mild summer. There had been one just four years ago when he first came to Llandoylan School, though he’d been too upset at the time to appreciate it.
Maybe Master Foxworthy was right. He’d said in geography class that in the five hundred years since the Devastation, the climate had been slowly warming again. Wellington had doubted, feeling that in his own twelve years he had seen no change worth noting. But if this summer proved like that other one, there might be another August with no snow on the ground.
Slipping a hand from beneath the blankets, he fumbled along the cold stone wall for the niche where he kept his glasses. Pudgy fingers grabbed the icy metal frames and yanked them into the warmth. He scowled. He wanted to see if the icicle hanging outside his window had shortened any. But, as every morning, he didn’t want to give in to these glass tyrants and put them on. They were responsible for so much of his misery.
If his eyes had been stronger (and he had been a little thinner and faster), he would be at the Cardiff Military Academy now, learning to be a warrior, as the son of a noble Glamorganshire family should be, as his parents had expected him to be when they named him for the ancient hero Wellington. Not that anyone called him that now. He was just “Welly,” like the name of high boots for slogging through mud.
Angrily he jammed the glasses onto his round face and glared around the bare room. So now instead of the yearned-for academy, he was at Llandoylan School receiving a “well-rounded” education, when he wanted to be learning to fight boundary raiders from Gwent or Angelsy pirates or perhaps the rumored hordes of muties from the South.
Of course, he’d been told often enough, he was lucky to get any education at all. Children of herders or farmers generally got none.
The muffled clanging of the ten-minute bell startled him. Hurriedly Welly slipped out of bed, yelping as his bare feet slapped against the cold flagstones. When he was an upperclassman, he’d at least have a rug in his room. He tugged on a pair of socks. Then, rushing to the washbasin, he broke the ice crusting its surface and splashed his face perfunctorily with water.
Anyway, he thought as he hastily pulled on his long underwear, this was an early thaw—a time for exciting things to happen. And this time, he would make the most of it.
Trousers and shirt on, he slid into his boots and, grabbing his fleece-lined jacket, rushed out the door into the narrow hallway. Still struggling with one sleeve, he rounded a corner and smashed into another hurrying body. Adjusting his skewed glasses, his heart sank. It was Nigel Williams, accompanied by several of his cronies.
“Watch yourself, Frog Eyes!” Nigel snarled. “If you don’t know how to act in the presence of your future duke, I’ll be glad to show you.”
“Aw, later, Nigel,” drawled Justin, the young lord’s chief lieutenant. “The pleasure of whipping a worm like that isn’t worth missing breakfast for.”
Nigel snorted agreement, and without another word, he and his companions turned disdainfully and descended the stairs. Welly, pale and shaking, stood on the landing until they were out of sight. Then he hurried down, slipping into the great dining hall as the final bell sounded and the ancient wooden doors closed ponderously behind him.
Hazily lit by narrow windows, the hall was noisy with pre-mealtime chatter. Welly scanned the long tables and benches for a free place, finally sliding into an empty seat across from one of the younger students, not a friend but at least one who hadn’t made fun of him yet.
Not, he thought glumly, that he had any real friends here. Except, perhaps, Heather McKenna. But he wouldn’t sit next to her here. Nigel or his sort might trot out one of their taunts: “Horseface Heather and Frog-eyed Welly, ugly as muties and equally silly.” When they did, Heather usually pointed out that the rhyme stank and that, anyway, frogs were extinct, so how did they know what frog eyes looked like?
At last, bowls of steaming porridge were being passed down the long wooden tables. When Welly’s bowl reached him, he clamped his hands around its rough pottery sides, letting the warmth seep into them. Up and down the table, the students’ breath rose in white puffs.
At the head table, old Master Bigly rose and mumbled the usual invocation. “We remnant of Man thank the Creator for his mercy. As life is preserved and sustenance preserved, so hope is preserved. World without end. Amen.”
Welly began eating in silence and avoided looking at his tablemates by staring into the dim cobwebbed recesses of the vaulted ceiling. His thoughts were on how to avoid Nigel’s promised punishment, though he might forget. The bully probably made too many threats in one day to keep track of them all.
Nigel had been here for less than a year and would return to the Cardiff Military Academy after a stint at rounding his education. But already the big, hulking boy had made his mark at Llandoylan. Welly wondered if Nigel’s boast was true, if when he became Duke he’d change the title and declare himself King. Dukes of some of the larger shires had done that already. It added zest to the regular border clashes. Not that any of the shires had populations big enough for real wars. But it sounded better to fight for a king than a duke, even if Britain had a dozen of them.
From the Hardcover edition.
Meet the Author
Pamela F. Service grew up in Berkeley, California, and spent three years in England studying archaeology. She has published over 20 children's books, works as a museum director in Eureka, acts in community theater, and is still writing.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I first discovered the first part of this excellent futuristic fantasy duology in a box of paperbacks my uncle was giving away and, having a long standing interest in all things Arthurian, had to rescue it. I loved the story and its engaging protagonists immediately, and spent the next two years tracking down the sequel before it lapsed out of print. So, as you can imagine, the prospect of being able to own these books new and in hardcover is very exciting to me! While they are very much a product of their time--written during the Cold War, it takes place 500 years after a nuclear holocaust that is appropriately known by survivors as 'The Devastation'--sadly we are entering into a global political climate where that fear of our own destructive power once again becomes timely. The story itself, though, is not about fear but about hope and survival and coming of age. Set in a Britain that mostly escaped the destruction but has reverted to feudalism under the burden of centuries of nuclear winter, it begins with three outsiders at a boarding school for minor nobility. Heather is the unwanted child of her mother's first marriage to a commoner, overweight Welly is considered an embarrassment to his martial family, and the mysterious Earl is a charity pupil with no memory of his life before the age of seven, who has skills he can't explain and around whom strange things tend to happen. Events are set in motion when a strange and sinister woman appears at the school claiming to be Earl's aunt. In the process of escaping her clutches, Earl finds the key to his past and with it begins a quest to find the world's best hope for a better future--King Arthur. Heather and Welly insist on coming along at first more out of stubborn loyalty than the belief that they have anything real to contribute, but discover their own true worth along the way. In the second volume, Arthur has returned and Earl, Heather and Welly are helping him to establish his kingdom. However, both Heather and Earl discover they still have some doubts about their place in it--Earl because some of the power he once had still eludes him, and Heather because she's starting to feel the first stirrings of a power she's not sure she wants. Welly's part in this one is smaller, but no less significant, as he is the one who believes in them throughout and helps them start to believe in themselves again. The apocalyptic setting is vividly painted and the quest narrative is both faithful to its roots and fresh enough to hold the younger generation's interest. But it is the very believable, identifiable internal struggles of the three adolescent protagonists finding their place in the world that really set it a cut above a lot of better-known children's fantasy.
I have to say that this is one of my favorite books.Service brings the Camelot legend 500 years inro the present which, in my opinion, is pretty exciting. In this heart pumping, jaw dropping book, you will experience life after the Devistation, or will you experience life in the Midevil period. Read this exciting book to find out!
This is both book 1 and book 2.
The book Tomorrows Magic will reveal to you the next sequel in the King Arthur story. It brings interest and fasicination to the reader. The book will actually take you into another world with the great many visualations. It will be a page flipping,adventurous, and worth best selling book to be read!