Ultimate Magic (Merlin Saga Series #8)

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Avalon is on the verge of total destruction: an army of warriors, a swarm of fire dragons, and a lethal plague are all laying waste to Merlin's beloved land. But Merlin is nowhere to be found. Leading the fight in his place is Basil, the once tiny lizard who is now the most powerful dragon in Avalon.

But to restore peace, the mastermind behind this chaos, Doomraga, will need to be discovered and destroyed before his power grows stronger and Avalon and its inhabitants are beyond ...

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Ultimate Magic (Merlin Saga Series #8)

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Avalon is on the verge of total destruction: an army of warriors, a swarm of fire dragons, and a lethal plague are all laying waste to Merlin's beloved land. But Merlin is nowhere to be found. Leading the fight in his place is Basil, the once tiny lizard who is now the most powerful dragon in Avalon.

But to restore peace, the mastermind behind this chaos, Doomraga, will need to be discovered and destroyed before his power grows stronger and Avalon and its inhabitants are beyond saving. For Basil to triumph, he and his friends may need to make the ultimate sacrifice.

In this final book of the Merlin's Dragon trilogy, T. A. Barron brings this saga to a thrilling-if bittersweet- end.

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Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Rayna Patton
With this book, Barron begins a trilogy about a strange little creature called Basil. After an adventurous start as an egg, hatchling Basil is an insignificant lizard with rumpled, tiny bat wings. He spends the first decades of his life finding food (he is an omnivore) and narrowly avoiding being eaten. He remembers only one friend, a wind, present at his birth and soon gone. His constant need to escape leads Basil to discover a special talent, and he also learns that he can fly-albeit feebly. Mostly, though, he laments his small, powerless, and lonely state. Accidentally Basil stumbles into Merlin's wedding celebration, where he looks in vain for someone who can identify him. Later he dreams vividly of a terrible threat to Merlin. His friend the wind returns, and Basil enlists her help to find and warn the wizard. The pair have many adventures throughout the seven realms of the Great Tree of Avalon. Finally Basil finds Merlin right as he faces a seemingly unbeatable foe. Basil's selfless intervention gives Merlin enough time to triumph. In gratitude, Merlin fast-forwards Basil to his full-grown state-a mountain-sized dragon called Basilgarrad imbued with Tlano, the magical force of the Great Tree. Coming-of-age and self-discovery are recurrent themes in Barron's books. Unfortunately the writing and characterization, although imaginative, are not exceptional here, but middle school students will not care. For those who love the Merlin and Great Tree of Avalon series, Basil will be a welcome new friend. Reviewer: Rayna Patton
KLIATT - Deirdre Root
Just after the birth of the Great Tree of Avalon, a strange creature emerges from a tiny egg. This half-bat, half-lizard creature has an odd (and oddly useful) magical power: he can recreate any scent he has ever experienced. His heritage and his future are a mystery to him, until a powerful dream causes him to seek out Merlin and warn him about a deadly threat to his life and to Avalon itself. Aided by the Wind Sister Ailah, he searches all the realms of Avalon, learning about himself and his world in the process. But when he finds Merlin, will he be a help…or the one who causes his doom? This charming coming-of-age tale in the author's new Merlin series will be welcome where his other titles are popular. Reviewer: Deirdre Root
School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up

Set between Barron's "Lost Years of Merlin" and "Great Tree of Avalon" series, this book focuses on Basil, a unique lizard that sets out to understand his identity and his destiny. While small, Basil has a magical ability to create smells, and he uses his talent and his wits to escape a number of foes. After a series of encounters with the wizard Merlin, including attending his wedding, Basil learns from the good spirit Dagda that the evil spirit Rhita Gawr has entered the lands of Avalon and that Merlin is in grave danger. With the wind sister Aylah, he travels to all seven realms, learning about each one and about himself in his quest to save Merlin and all of Avalon from the magic-devouring kreelix. While this adventure starts out slowly and spans almost 40 years, the pace picks up rapidly during the second half. Basil is a prickly and entertaining hero, and his comments about life at the start of each chapter add tone and humor. Barron's return to Avalon will be welcomed by his many fans, who will have the patience to explore the lands with Basil and learn more about their history.-Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI

Kirkus Reviews
A new series opens in Barron's trite version of Avalon. Basil is a tiny, unique creature, batlike and lizardlike, ignorant of his purpose but destined for greatness. His name commemorates the day he hid in a patch of basil plants, which was the same day he realized he could magically emit smells. The herb reference and scent talent are rare creative details in this morass of overwritten and unclear tropes. As Basil travels through Avalon's "seven root-realms," seeking kin and identity and trying to warn Merlin that evil's invading, Barron's artificial pacing (unrestrained use of "suddenly" and "instantly") and preachy faux-wisdom ("Memory can be hot as molten lava, or cold as a frozen glacier") preclude momentum. The prose is swollen with superlatives, and Avalon's basic conceit is confusing: The Great Tree is an actual tree, but also "a world between worlds," with "fires" and "rivers" inside. Rather than offering "a world profoundly rich in both wonder and mystery," as it boasts, this overindulgence delivers readers nothing but smugness. (Fantasy. 9-11)
Children's Literature - Leah Hanson
Basilgarrad is in the fight of his life. With his dwarf, elf, and animal allies, Merlin's great dragon leads the forces of Avalon against the dragon Lo Valdearg and his army of flamelons. Just when victory seems at hand, a ghastly cloud of flying leeches descends upon the loyal band of fighters. With death imminent, Basil prepares to fly to his death for the Avalon he so loves. Suddenly Merlin appears and with his magic staff keeps the leeches at bay. But Basilgarrad and Merlin both soon realize that this fight is only the beginning of the battle to end all battles. Deep in the Haunted Marsh lies a monster who serves Rhita Gawr, a monster so terrible that it is known only as "darker than dark." As Merlin and Basil journey to the Marsh, Merlin's estranged son Krystallus grapples with the knowledge that Avalon, his father's dream, is in peril. Should he join the fight despite the bitter feelings he has toward the father who left him? As both parties face the marsh and its monsters, they will have to make great personal sacrifices to save Avalon. In this final installment of the "Merlin's Dragon" trilogy, Barron spins a tale of adventure, magic, and above all, hope. Faithful readers will find the ending satisfying and true to the tale. Reviewer: Leah Hanson
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142419267
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 6/9/2011
  • Series: Merlin Saga Series, #8
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 121,438
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

T. A. Barron

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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Interviews & Essays

Write Well, Live Fully

An essay for aspiring writers

by T. A. Barron

The wise and wonderful writer, Madeleine L'Engle, once told me: "There are three essential rules for writing a novel." She paused, then added, "Unfortunately, no one knows what they are." That sums up the situation! But after more than twenty years of writing books, I can also add these thoughts: Writing is the most joyous — and also the most agonizing — labor that I know. And it is by far the best way to travel — in our world or any other. Every author has an individual approach to the creative process, and every author's experience is different — except for the essential elements of hard work, inspiration...and magic. Whenever people (of whatever age) ask me about the writing process, I start by telling them how much I still have to learn. This is, after all, a craft — and no matter how much someone knows, there is always more to learn and explore. That's one of my favorite qualities of the writer's craft: The horizon of excellence is ever receding. We can always improve, which means we can always grow as people. Before I give you my best advice on writing ... here is a bit of wisdom from that well-known sage, Snoopy: My own advice to new writers boils down to three words: Observe. Practice. Believe. From: The T. A. Barron Official Website www.tabarron.com Let's look at them one at a time: Observe. Notice the world around you, in deep detail. How do different people speak, with their voices, faces, hands, and posture? How do different types of trees' leaves fall to the ground, each with a singular sort of flight? How do different ideas stir your passions, fears, hopes, and dreams? And don't just notice the surface of things, the sights and sounds that first strike your senses. Go deeper. Ask yourself how something would feel; wonder what is that person's deepest, darkest secret. If you truly observe the world ... it becomes a fruitful source of writing ideas and elements. Then just add a little drop of your imagination, bend the rules of reality, and anything is possible! On top of helping your writing, observing the world closely has one more advantage. And it's a big one. This is a good way to live, to be more wholly alive. Being a writer encourages you to live more fully. Practice. Write every chance you can. Keep a journal. Write poems, whether you prefer haiku poetry, sonnets, or enormous epics. Write letters, plays, short stories, blogs, novels — whatever gets you excited. Writing is hard, full of struggle, and greatly demanding ... but it is also deeply rewarding. And practice makes you better, just as practice makes you more skillful at everything from baking a pie to piloting a spacecraft. A lot of this comes down to discipline. Sometimes the last thing I want to do on a particular day is sit at my desk at home in Colorado and write. I'd rather be playing with my kids, baking bread, or hiking on a mountain trail. But I stay with my writing because I know that's the only way it will ever happen. So … if you can find the discipline to practice, the magic of language will become more present and familiar over time. And your powers as a writer will surely grow. Believe. This is, perhaps, the most challenging part about writing. To succeed, you must truly believe in your story — in each of its characters, in its place, and in its underlying ideas. And then, even more difficult, you must believe in yourself. What can I say to encourage you? Just this: Know that you have valuable things to say, and the skills to say them. Know that your song is unique, that your voice matters. Think of writing as growing a tree. In the soil of your writer's heart, you have an idea—a seed. But it will need plenty of sunlight, air, and nourishing soil to grow. How does this happen? I can only tell you how it works for me, but for every writer the process is different. When I sit down to start a novel, a process that will take between one and three years, I begin with that seed. It helps me to sketch it out, in longhand, just to get to know it better. In time, I will write an outline of its growth, though I'm always aware that outlines are only a beginning, a rough concept. As the seed sprouts into a sapling during the first draft of the manuscript (which, old fashioned that I am, I also write longhand), the outline is abandoned. For by now the tree itself is guiding my work. I believe in it, and listen closely to its inner voice — to its soul. Several more rewrites help me shape the growing tree. I try to develop characters, places (which are much more than merely backdrops to the story, deserving all the depth and subtlety of characters), plot lines, and the story's underlying ideas. When at last I feel satisfied that it is truly formed, I show a manuscript to my editor. Her comments and questions are sometimes not what I'd hoped to hear, but they are always valuable. After all, she is my ally, my fellow gardener. From: The T. A. Barron Official Website www.tabarron.com Now come more rewrites. People often ask me how much rewriting I do. The answer is, quite simply, as much as it takes to get it right. You see, there is no substitute for the integrating and deepening that happens in a thorough rewrite. Quite often, I am also doing research at this stage, to make the story's characters and places feel true. That, indeed, is the ultimate test. Paradoxical as it may sound, good fiction is true on many levels. That's right! Fiction must feel true. On the levels of the senses, the emotions, the intellect, and the soul, a story ought to win the reader's belief. Characters, if well developed, become so real that they can walk right off the page — for both writer and reader. That is true regardless of whether the character is a man, woman, child, tree, mountain, or magical snow crystal. Sometimes I stop writing the story I am crafting and write a brief biographical sketch of one character — just to get to know that character better. How do I know when a character is fully formed? When I can, at last, hear his or her voice. No aspect of a character's description is as revealing as the voice. And then, if that voice is true, the newly-created character will lean over to me and whisper his or her deepest secret. Now, at last, the book is a thriving young tree, though it has yet to bear fruit. I still need to do more revising — but at this point the work is quite delicate, just trimming a few branches. Neuroscience is just beginning to illuminate how our brains work. But we do know this about writing: Connecting with both the left and right halves of the brain is crucial, for the creative process is both rational and metaphorical, logical and mysterious. Finally, the tree stands fully grown. It reaches high and has surprisingly deep roots. Maybe it also holds a wondrous crop of fruit. And perhaps, when the wind whistles through its branches, it brings to mind some secret, half-remembered song. Best wishes from your fellow writer, T.A. Barron

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Average Rating 4.5
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    Talk about merlin?

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    Di Lo


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    Posted January 14, 2012

    Is it a good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2011


    Merlin rocks!

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