The Merlin Conspiracy

The Merlin Conspiracy

by Diana Wynne Jones

Paperback(First Harper Trophy Edition)

View All Available Formats & Editions
Usually ships within 6 days


When the Merlin of Blest dies, everyone thinks it's a natural death. But Roddy and Grundo, two children traveling with the Royal Court, soon discover the truth. The Merlin's replacement and other courtiers are scheming to steal the magic of Blest for their own purposes.

Roddy enlists the help of Nick, a boy from another world, and the three turn to their own impressive powers. The dangers are great, and if Roddy, Grundo, and Nick cannot stop the conspirators, the results will be more dreadful than they could possibly imagine.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060523206
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/11/2004
Series: Magids Series , #2
Edition description: First Harper Trophy Edition
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.96(d)
Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.

Read an Excerpt

The Merlin Conspiracy

Chapter One


I have been with the Court all my life, traveling with the King's Progress.

I didn't know how to go on. I sat and stared at this sentence, until Grundo said, "If you can't do it, I will."

If you didn't know Grundo, you'd think this was a generous offer, but it was a threat, really. Grundo is dyslexic. Unless he thinks hard, he writes inside out and backward. He was threatening me with half a page of crooked writing with words like inside turning up as sindie and story as otsyr.

Anything but that! I thought. So I decided to start with Grundo -- and me. I am Arianrhod Hyde, only I prefer people to call me Roddy, and I've looked after Grundo for years now, ever since Grundo was a small, pale, freckled boy in rompers, sitting completely silently in the back of the children's bus. He was so miserable that he had wet himself. I was only about five myself at the time, but I somehow realized that he was too miserable even to cry. I got up and staggered through the bumping, rushing bus to the clothes lockers. I found some clean rompers and persuaded Grundo to get into them.

This wasn't easy, because Grundo has always been very proud. While I was working at it, Grundo's sister, Alicia, turned round from where she was sitting with the big ones. "What are you bothering with Cesspit for?" she said, tipping up her long, freckled nose. "There's no point. He's useless." She was eight at the time, but she still looks just the same: straight fair hair, thick body, and an air of being the person, the one everyone else has to look up to. "And he's ugly," she said. "He's got a long nose."

"So have you got a long nose," I said, "Lady Sneeze." I always called her Lady Sneeze when I wanted to annoy her. If you say "Alicia" quickly, it sounds just like a well-behaved sneeze -- just like Alicia, in fact. I wanted to annoy her for calling Grundo Cesspit. She only said it because Sybil, her mother, called Grundo that. It was typical of the way they both treated him. Grundo's father left Sybil before Grundo was born. Ever since I could remember, Sybil and Alicia had been thick as thieves together. Poor Grundo was nowhere.

It got worse when Grundo started lessons with us and turned out to be dyslexic. Sybil went around sighing, "He's so stupid!" And Alicia chanted at him, "Stupid, stupid, stupid!" Alicia, of course, did everything well, whether it was maths, magic, or horse riding. She got chosen as a Court page when she was ten.

Our teachers knew Grundo was not stupid, but his inside-out way of going on baffled them. They sighed, too, and called Grundo "our young eccentric," and I was the one who taught Grundo to read and write. I think that was when I started calling him Grundo. I can't quite remember why, except that it suited him better than his real name, which is Ambrose, of all things! Before long the entire Court called him Grundo. And while I was teaching him, I discovered that he had an unexpected amount of inside-out magical talent.

"This book is boring," he complained in his deep, solemn voice. "Why should I care if Jack and Jill go shopping? Or if Rover chases the ball?" While I was explaining to him that all reading books were like this, Grundo somehow turned the book into a comic book, all pictures and no words. It started at the back and finished at the front, and in the pictures the ball chased Rover and Jack and Jill were bought by the groceries. Only Grundo would think of two people being bought by a huge chunk of cheese.

He refused to turn the book back. He said it was more fun that way, and I couldn't turn it back into a reading book whatever I tried. It's probably still where I hid it, down inside the cover of the old teaching bus seat. Grundo is obstinate as well as proud.

You might say I adopted Grundo as my brother. We were both on our own. I am an only child, and all the other Court wizards' children were the same age as Alicia or older still. The other children our own age were sons and daughters of Court officials, who had no gift for magic. They were perfectly friendly -- don't get me wrong -- but they just had a more normal outlook. There were only about thirty of us young ones who traveled in the King's Progress all the time. The rest only joined us for Christmas or for the other big religious ceremonies. Grundo and I always used to envy them. They didn't have to wear neat clothes and remember Court manners all the time. They knew where they were going to be, instead of traveling through the nights and finding themselves suddenly in a flat field in Norfolk, or a remote Derbyshire valley, or a busy port somewhere next morning. They didn't have to ride in buses in a heat wave. Above all, they could go for walks and explore places. We were never really in one place long enough to do any exploring. The most we got to do was look round the various castles and great houses where the King decided to stay.

We envied the princesses and the younger princes particularly. They were allowed to stay in Windsor most of the year. Court gossip said that the Queen, being foreign, had threatened to go back to Denmark unless she was allowed to stay in one place. Everyone pitied the Queen rather for not understanding that the King had to travel about in order to keep the realm healthy. Some said that the whole magic of the Islands of Blest -- or maybe the entire world of Blest -- depended on the King's constantly moving about and visiting every acre of England.

I asked my grandfather Hyde about this. He is a Magid and knows about the magics of countries and worlds and so on. And he said that there might be something in this, but he thought people were overstating the case. The magic of Blest was very important for all sorts of reasons, he said, but it was the Merlin who was really entrusted with keeping it healthy.

The Merlin Conspiracy. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

What People are Saying About This

Neil Gaiman

Diana Wynne Jones is, quite simply, the best writer of magic there is, for readers of any age. Her stories are funny, brilliant, twisty and all utterly different. Her characters are delightful. Pick up this book and she will take you somewhere wonderful.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Merlin Conspiracy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Neil Gaiman has it right: Diana is simply the best writer of magic there is, for any age. Without all the artificial and baggage-laden worldbuilding many other fantasy authors burden their books with, Diana's stories move quickly through fantastic realms and perfectly describes all the important facets in only a few sentences, things people would normally notice on arrival but normally overlook in their own descriptions. Her good guys are human (without excessive emotional baggage or mental problems), her bad guys are truly grotesque (not through exotic tortures, merely with their manners, which is more than enough), and she portrays animals and neutral characters in such a wide spectrum that it's impossible to list them all--you can only say that she KNOWS people and animals.
Katharine_Ann on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Once again Diana Wynne-Jones creates a fascinating world for her characters. I was intrigued by this unique perspective on the Merlin legend, and how Wynne-Jones combines present day London, Merlin, and the amazing world of Blest. Although I was a little disappointed by how quickly the climax of the story ends, and how neatly everything wrapped up in the final chapter, I still found this book a delight to read. I would say that The Merlin Conspiracy is a must-read for fans of Diana Wynne-Jones.
soybean-soybean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
quite how real dwj makes her stories!
kaionvin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hated The Merlin Conspiracy when I first read it in 2003. On re-read to decide whether or not to give my copy away, it's not as bad as I remembered. Maybe that's because now I've read the book it's the loose sequel to (the hilarious Deep Secret)? But I'm inclined to think it's not so bad because, well, I don't find The Merlin Conspiracy to be much of anything. It's action-packed and while I didn't take much of a shine to the characters (not even Nick who I enjoyed in the preceding book!), neither was I offended by them. There's lots of world-hopping and usual percentage of horrible relations, but I can't quite put a finger about what makes not have the usual Diana-Wynne-Jones flair.The best explanation I can come up with is when I tried to summarize the plot of Merlin, that there's really no concept behind the book. Despite all the free-style shenanigans that characterize a lot of her work, it's usually funneled toward some central idea. Even in simple terms such as in Deep Secret where it's as small as "Sci-fi/Fantasy stuff happens at a Sci-fi/Fantasy Convention"; or more deeply integrated as in Howl's Moving Castle which was "what happens to the eldest daughter in a world where fairy tales are real"; or more literally played as in Magicians of Caprona ("Romeo and Juliet but with more Italian-ness and magic"). I can't really sum up Merlin in the same way. Is it "British Isles but with more magic", or "timey-wimey, the cause happened after the effect, a butterfly flapping in Mexico" story, or, "heredity magic, it exists"? The story doesn't really have anywhere to lead to, no matter how imaginative the events on the way, and the result is a really tepid 'who cares' kind of story.
ed.pendragon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My previous acquaintance with Diana Wynne Jones was through her The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (Vista 1996), a thoroughly enjoyable tongue-in-cheek encyclopaedic tour of the conventions of post-Tolkien fantasy writing. This outing for the much-published children's writer includes much of that irreverant humour (we meet an elephant called Mini and a coffee-addicted SF-detective writer called Maxwell Hyde, for example, whose name seems to be a compound of a well-known instant coffee and a literary split personality). And it all starts with the title, which is about a conspiracy concerning the Merlin.From this we gather that the main setting for the plot is not Earth as we know it but an alternative world in a kind of Moorcock multiverse. Nick Malory (not his real name, by the way) is eventually propelled into this other Britain called Blest, a rather apt title not only for its Otherworld echoes in Greek and Celtic mythology but also because many of its denizens are witches and others adept at natural magic, such as the story's other protagonist Arianrhod. The conspiracy involves the replacement of the chief wizard of the country of Logres (England in our world) with a false Merlin, and the repercussions this has on Blest and it world and on parallel worlds. Oh, and did I mention time-travel as well?This is a very readable novel which you may well get through in very few sittings, right up to its apocalyptic conclusion. It's a given that reviews of this type of fiction will include favourable comparisons with J K Rowling and Philip Pullman, but in truth Diana Wynne Jones has a well-warranted reputation which needs no such hype. For those with a penchant for legends a lot of the fun comes from spotting both the overt and subtler Arthurian references, along with the overtones of, among others, William Blake. Then it'll be time to search out those other titles of hers, such as Deep Secret, this book's prequel.
katekf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Merlin Conspiracy is set in the same universe as Deep Secret but it can be read on its own. Nick Mallory appears in both books and the Magid universe is explained in Deep Secret but through Nick and others it is explained. The Magid universe is one of my favorites of Diana Wynne Jones' because it works upon the same principles of the Chrestomanci books, many connected worlds that need to be looked after. A main difference is that the Magid books are written for a slightly older audience, they fit more into the Young Adult and Adult Fantasy genre as they take on harder topics. The Merlin Conspiracy is about two young people who don't quite fit, Nick Mallory and Arianrhod, who come together to save the world of Blest. Throughout the book, we switch between their viewpoints and get to see them both see new opportunities in their future and understand how they fit best. For lovers of complex plots and fascinating characters in worlds where magic is normal, this book is a fantastic read.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Diana Wynne Jones, The Merlin Conspiracy: Multiple worlds linked by magic; teens struggling with big powers and fighting adult conspiracies and dismissals; barely a decent adult woman to be found (there is a wise old crone, at least); parents who are sometimes awful for no reason and sometimes busy running the world, which is not always that big a step above--it's reasonably standard Jones, with some people turning out to be very different from who they initially seemed to be. I can't say I was drawn in, but I think younger RT might have liked it more.
RebeccaAnn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Deep Secret set the bar high but luckily, this didn't disappoint. In this book, we follow Nick and two children from, Roddy and Grundo, as they try to discover what the new Merlin and Sybil, Grundo's mother, are planning to do. They may not be able to figure out the whole picture, but they know the two are up to no good. Now if they can just get someone to listen to them!I loved this book. It was nice seeing things from Nick's perspective, though I did miss Rupert. He was hilarious and he didn't even earn a passing mention in this book. However, we did get to meet Romanov and I found myself loving him! The pace of this book was fast and exciting, and the ending was just intense! I never once felt like I was getting tired of the Magid story line, even though there wasn't much about Magids in here. That was another nice thing about The Merlin Conspiracy: I got to see how some other magic works. The more I read, the more I realize that the world building is very intricate and I really would love to know more.The only thing I wasn't too pleased with is it felt like there were quite a few loose ends in this book. I want to know if Grundo and Roddy ever patched things up. I want to know if they do go on to be the next Merlin and the next Lady Governance, respectively. I want to know how much raising the land and turning the magic ninety degrees affected everything. I hoping these loose ends really just mean there will be a third book in the Magid series. I would love to continue my adventures in this universe(s).
fyrefly98 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Summary: Roddy is a young member of the King's court, and she has been a member of the King's Progress (his continual trek around the Islands of Blest, an alternate England) for as long as she can remember. When she and Grundo, her young ward, overhear a magical plot to overthrow the king, they're taken away to Roddy's relatives - all of whom have some magical power of their own. In alternating sections, Nick Mallory, a young man, stumbles into an alternate dimension, where he meets some powerful wizards, and ultimately winds up in Roddy's dimension, where he must take what he's learned to help her save the kingdom.Review: I need to stop listening to Diana Wynne Jones's books. I don't mean I need to stop reading them, because they ones I've read have all been imaginative, fun, and well-done. I just need to stop consuming them in audiobook form.Jones is a huge fan of dropping readers right into the middle of a story without much (if any explanation), and of making readers piece together what the heck's going on as they go. That's fine, and probably part of what makes her books enjoyable, but it's not a format that's well suited to audiobook. So much is happening at such a fast pace that if your attention wanders even for two minutes (as it invariably does), you wind up irreparably lost. That was my problem here. I'm sure there was a really great book going on, but because I don't always listen to audiobooks with 100% of my brain (that's their point, after all), I never got my footing as to what was going on in the story, to the point where I spent the last hour or so thoroughly confused as to who several of the characters that kept getting mentioned even were. So, while the writing was good, and it was definitely funny, and imaginative, and I'm sure the story was great, I'm not really the best judge. From here on out, no more DWJ audiobooks for me (plus I might have to go back and re-read this one) - I hate feeling like there's a good story I'm missing! 3.5 out of 5 stars.Recommendation: I'm assuming, based on what I heard and understood, that it's worth reading... with the emphasis on the read.
rockycoloradan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Isles of Blest are in danger and it is up to an intrepid band of youngsters to discover the danger, cause the danger and resolve the danger. And resolve some personal problems along the way. And they just about successful.It is a well-told tale and, if you can get around the issue of maintaining an absolute monarchy that terrorizes its subjects/citizens into keeping the streets clean and the front doors painted, a fun read.
Larkken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three children are drawn together to fix the state of magic in Blest, beset by the usual problem of childhood: all the adults are under the impression they are either mistaken or not old enough to understand more adult magical dealings. This book is as entertaining as Jones always is and introduces a wonderful alternative reality full of odd characters and just familiar-enough sounding situations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read it again sometime.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I started this book before supper. I finished it about 3am. I was hungry, freezing, tired, etc. I finally finished every word, and went to bed hungry, dirty and cold. This book picks you up by the nape of the neck and doesn't pause for breath til it's done. Wonderful.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a amazing plot and really believeable characters! I do think that it really neds a sequel though.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was okay, but it had a few boring parts. The ending wasn't as good as I expected it to be. This book seriously needs a sequel.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Diana Wynne Jones is the best fantasy writer. I finished this book in less than a week and I could not put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome. I've read many of Diana Wynne Jones's books and they are all great. THE MERLIN CONSPIRACY is a fantastic book for anyone who loves fantasy stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ah man this book is awsome!It keeps suprising you down to the finall page!if you like mythology and harry potter youll love this!
Guest More than 1 year ago
it's okay theres a few bad turn but mostsly i like it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an absolutely amazing book!!! Diana Wynne Jones has done it again and created an absolutely thrilling book in her fascinating writing style and totally believable characters...Anyone who loves fantasy, or even if you don't, you should read this book.