Merlin's Mistake

Merlin's Mistake

by Robert Newman

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Overview

Merlin's Mistake by Robert Newman

Brian and Tertius set out on a quest to find a wizard and save a kingdom from an evil knight

All his life, Brian has craved a grand adventure. On his sixteenth birthday, he meets the young traveler Tertius and knows it's a sign that his adventure is about to begin. Tertius is on a mission to find a wizard to teach him magic, and Brian promises to help him. But before they can begin, the two must pass through Meliot, a small kingdom with a terrible problem: every year, it must pay tribute to the wicked Black Knight, or else he will cut off the king's head. When Brian falls in love with one of the king's twin daughters, he's ready to do whatever it takes to win her hand in marriage, even if it means finding the one knight prophesied by Merlin to destroy the Black Knight and rid Meliot of his evil forever.
 
With the help of a mysterious old woman, Brian and Tertius set out from Meliot, both swearing to help the other with his mission. But they know their journey will be far from easy. If the two boys can persevere, they may discover that sometimes, what you seek is right in front of you all along.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781497686052
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 12/30/2014
Series: Merlin's Mistake , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 351
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

About the Author

Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin's Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.

Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.
Born in New York City, Robert Newman (1909–1988) was among the pioneers of early radio and was chief writer for the Inner Sanctum Mysteries and Murder at Midnight—forerunners of The Twilight Zone that remain cult favorites to this day. In 1944 Newman was put in charge of the radio campaign to reelect Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also one of the founding members of the Radio Writers Guild, which became the Writers Guild of America.

In 1973 Newman began writing books for children, most notably the Andrew Tillet, Sara Wiggins & Inspector Wyatt mysteries. The series takes place in Victorian London and follows the adventures of two teenage amateur detectives who begin as Baker Street Irregulars. Newman has also written books of fantasy, among them Merlin's Mistake and The Testing of Tertius. His books based on myths and folklore include Grettirthe Strong, and he has published two adult novels.
Newman was married to the writer Dorothy Crayder. Their daughter, Hila Feil, has also published novels for children and young adults. Newman lived his last days in Stonington, Connecticut.

Read an Excerpt

Merlin's Mistake


By Robert Newman

OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA

Copyright © 1970 Robert Newman
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-8605-2


CHAPTER 1

Altogether it had been a strange spring. About Candlemas one of the kitchenmaids became convinced that the cook was the devil and fled screaming into the great hall where the Lady Leolie boxed her ears and poured a goblet of cider over her head to quiet her. This had so upset the cook that he had not been able to bake a proper pasty until after Lent. During Whitsuntide the alewife's brindle cow had a calf with two heads, and shortly after that a strange, bearded comet appeared in the midnight sky and burst into a flaming shower directly over the castle. Disturbing as these portents were—and since it would soon be Midsummer Eve there would probably be more of them—the worst part about them was that no one, not even Father Bernard, could tell what they meant. Only Brian thought he knew.

On this particular morning the sun had awakened him. Slanting in through the narrow window of the tower room, it shone full on his face. He stirred, blinked and finally sat up. But even before he remembered what day it was, he was filled with an odd excitement. It was of course a very important day: his birthday. He was now sixteen and a man. Or almost a man. But he had a feeling that there was more to it than that.

Staring at the shaft of sunlight, he seemed to see his mother, the Lady Leolie, standing in the courtyard with Sir Guy beside her. They watched as he mounted his horse and—at long last—rode through the gatehouse and across the drawbridge out into the world. Was that why he felt as he did? Had he been dreaming about it just before he woke? It was very vivid, very real. But then he had had that same dream so often when he was awake that he could not be sure.

The straw of the pallet rustled as he got up and hurried across the stone floor to the window. The villeins' cottages, the fields and the pastures all lay west of the castle, on the other side of the tower. On this side there was just the forest. And since his room was on a level with the tops of the trees, he looked out on a sea of green that steamed as the summer sun burned off the early morning dew. The forest began a bowshot beyond the moat and extended as far as the eye could see. Even from the top of the tower, he could not see its end. It looked more like a sea than ever from there, with the castle and its land an island lapped by the living green.

Leaning out the window, he looked to his left. He could not have said who or what he expected to see. But possibly because most of those who visited Caercorbin—an occasional knight, monk or chapman—came from the North, for some time now he had been convinced that it was from that direction that the harbinger of his freedom—and his great adventure—would come. Nothing stirred on the forest track. But since he could see only a short distance because of the trees, that meant nothing.

He pulled on his hose, tunic and shoes, buckled his belt and went quietly down the stairs. Though his mother was an early riser, she was not yet awake; and Agnes, his old nurse who slept in the solar outside her room, did not see him as he went by. Two serving wenches, still lying near the hearth, looked up sleepily as he hurried through the great hall and out into the courtyard. At that moment he heard the rattle and rumble of the drawbridge as it thudded down, the creak of the heavy outer doors. The doors were only partly ajar when he reached them and slipped through, startling the two men-at-arms who were pulling them open.

"Ho there, Brian," called Simon, Sir Guy's squire, from the gatehouse. "Where are you going?"

Brian waved to him without answering, then he was over the drawbridge, running across the open ground that surrounded the moat and into the forest.

For a space the underbrush had been cleared away so that there would be no cover for an enemy. The grass was still wet with dew, and it soaked his shoes as he loped under the branches of the huge oaks. A rabbit started up ahead of him and fled to his hole, and off to his right a partridge rose drumming and flew low and straight into a tangle of bracken. He was in a copse of beeches now, trotting along an almost invisible trail. Then there was the knoll, covered with grass and patches of gorse. He climbed up it quickly and, when he reached the top, he paused for the first time since leaving his room.

This was one of his favorite spots in the forest. Lying hidden among the rocks on its top, he could watch the comings and goings of the animals: the deer, the wild boars, the badgers and the foxes. But even better, from here he could see far more of the narrow track that led to Caercorbin than he could from the castle's highest tower. Shielding his eyes, he again looked north. Still nothing. He was about to turn away when he saw a glint of metal far up the road where it began to curve. Then, as he watched, three figures came into sight. The first, mounted on a gray palfrey, seemed rather small, but he was richly dressed in a blue tunic and cape. Two varlets in steel caps and leather jacks rode behind him; it was the gleam of the sun on their helmets that had first caught Brian's eye.

He continued watching as they drew nearer. The two varlets wore the Ferlay blazon, and all three of them rode slowly as if they were weary. Suddenly Brian stiffened. Something moved in the underbrush on the near side of the track. There were other movements on the far side. They would have been invisible from the road, but they could be seen clearly from the top of the knoll, and Brian knew what they meant: Long Hugh and some of his men were waiting there to waylay the travelers.

Scrambling up the nearest rock so he would be visible against the sky, Brian put his fingers to his lips and whistled shrilly. Then, as the lurking figures turned, he waved his arm like a falconer calling off a hawk. For a moment the men below him hesitated. Then the tallest one waved back and they melted into the bushes.

When they heard his whistle, the three riders reined in their horses and looked up also, the two varlets reaching for their swords. Brian waved again, reassuringly this time, then went running down the knoll toward them.

They were still waiting when he reached the narrow road. The gray horse shied when Brian appeared out of the underbrush, and his rider had to check and quiet him. He was a somewhat solemn-looking, dark-haired boy, two or three years younger than Brian.

"Greetings," he said. "You startled us. We did not know that there was anyone about."

"That was partly why I whistled," said Brian. "Because there were others about besides me."

"What do you mean?" asked the boy. Then he glanced into the underbrush, looked at Brian again and said, "I see. May I ask who you are?"

"I am Brian, son of Sir Owaine of Caercorbin."

"Caercorbin? I told you it could not be much farther," he said to the varlets.

"That's what you've been saying since sunset last night," said one of the varlets sullenly.

"And, as you can see, I was right. But since we are so close now, you need not come any farther."

Immediately the varlet who had spoken, a red-bearded man, turned his horse. But the other one hesitated.

"We can't leave you yet, master. Sir Gerard told us to see you safely there."

"It is only about a mile," said Brian. "And I will be with him."

"Very well, then," said the second varlet, and he turned his horse also.

"Wait," said the boy, reaching into the pouch on his belt. "Take this for your trouble." He gave him some coins. "With my thanks."

"Thank you, master," said the varlet, raising a knuckle to his forehead. Then the two spurred their horses and went cantering off back the way they had come.

"A surly pair," said Brian. "At least the one with the red beard was."

"They were uneasy," said the boy. "We lost our way last night, had to sleep in the forest.

They didn't like that. But," again he glanced at the bushes that bordered the track, "I gather that there was reason for them to be uneasy."

"Yes," said Brian.

"Outlaws?"

"Yes. Long Hugh and his men."

"I suppose they rob the rich and give to the poor."

"Why, no," said Brian. "They rob everyone, rich and poor, and keep what they take for themselves."

"Very sensible," said the boy. "It's what I'd do if I were an outlaw." He dismounted. "I take it this Long Hugh is a friend of yours?"

"Let's say we have an understanding," said Brian. "But you have not told me who you are."

"I am Tertius, son of Sir Baldwin of Bedegraine."

"Tertius?"

"I have two older brothers. It means the Third."

"I know," said Brian.

"Oh? Then perhaps you can guess what my brothers' names are."

"Primus and Secundus."

"Well," said Tertius smiling, "a scholar."

"I have a little Latin," said Brian. Since he was older than Tertius, he should have been annoyed. But he was impressed, in spite of himself, by the boy's assurance and the fact that he was not only traveling alone, but carrying his own money. Besides, he liked his directness and his smile. "You come from Ferlay?"

"Yes. I have just finished my service there as page."

"You are fortunate. Sir Gerard is a brave and worthy knight."

"You did your service with him too?"

"No," said Brian somewhat awkwardly. "I have not done service, never been anywhere but Caercorbin."

"How is that?" asked Tertius. "Oh, you are an only son."

Brian nodded. "My father was killed some ten years ago fighting the paynim in the Holy Land. When word of it came to my mother, she would not let me leave. Of course Sir Guy has schooled me in the use of arms—he was my father's comrade and is now the castle steward. And Father Bernard taught me a few other things besides Latin."

"I see."

"Will you be staying with us for long?"

"No," said Tertius. "I think not."

"You would be welcome. But I suppose you are anxious to get home."

"No."

"What then?"

Instead of answering, Tertius reached inside his tunic and drew out a strange object that hung around his neck. It was round, slightly curved and made either of crystal or the clearest glass that Brian had ever seen. Holding it up, Tertius peered at him through it.

"What are you doing?" asked Brian, drawing back a little.

"It's my eyes," said Tertius. "Hyper metropia. I can see well enough at a distance, but not up close. I'd wear spectacles if they were available, but of course they're not."

"Spectacles?"

"Yes." He dropped the glass. "I think I can trust you. I'm not going home. That's why I got rid of Sir Gerard's varlets. I'm going on a quest."

Brian drew a sudden deep breath. He'd been right then in his reading of the signs and portents, and also in his feeling that this was to be the most important day of his life so far.

"What's your friend's name, Brian?" said a voice behind him.

He and Tertius turned. Not a leaf had rustled or a twig snapped but there, on the edge of the track, stood Long Hugh and three of his men. Long Hugh was tall and lean with a short golden beard and sharp gray eves. He and his men wore deerskin jerkins. They each carried a yew bow and had half a dozen arrows thrust through their belts.

"Tertius," said Brian. "He's the son of Sir Baldwin of Bedegraine."

"Ah," said Long Hugh. "Too bad he is a friend. Pickings have been lean these past few weeks and if he had silver for those varlets, he might have had some to spare for us too."

"Since you ask me so courteously," said Tertius, reaching for his purse.

"No, no," said Long Hugh. "We try not to trouble our friends unless our need is great. And our need today is not for silver but for something else."

"Salt again?" asked Brian.

"No. It was Hob's turn to cook and watch the fire yesterday. But when we got back to camp last night, we found that he'd slipped off to see his wife and the fire had gone out."

"Cold meat for supper," said a short, stocky outlaw. "Lucky it wasn't winter. I'll have his ears for it."

"I'll bring you some fire," said Brian. "Can you wait until vespers?"

"No need to wait," said Tertius. "I can build you a fire now."

"You?" said Long Hugh. "I had not marked you as such a seasoned traveler. You carry a flint and steel?"

"No," said Tertius. "But I have something just as good."

Tying his horse to a tree, he pushed his way through the underbrush to a clearing that lay just beyond. Brian, Long Hugh and his men followed, the outlaws exchanging grins as Tertius collected dry leaves and twigs into a small mound. Then, glancing around to find the sun, he took the glass from inside his tunic and held it so it caught the sun's rays. A bright, white spot of light appeared on the pile of leaves. They all waited a moment.

"Look 'ee, master," said the stocky outlaw. "'Tis clear you wish us well and that warms us to our umbles, but ..."

He broke off. A wisp of smoke was curling upward from the pile of leaves and suddenly they were burning.

"Saint Michael defend me!" said Brian.

"Are you a magician?" asked Long Hugh, clutching his dagger.

"No," said Tertius, adding twigs to the fire. "At least, not yet. But if I do become one, it will be a white one. Do you have a pot for the fire?"

"No," said Long Hugh, looking at him closely. He glanced at Brian as if for reassurance, then said, "Wat, cut a torch."

The stocky outlaw had been clutching his dagger too, holding iron to ward off evil.

"'Tis true we need fire, Hugh," he said. "But ..."

"I give you my word it's all right," said Tertius. "It's not magic. Anyone could do it."

"Not I," said Wat. "It's unnatural." Muttering, he went over to a fir tree, cut and trimmed a branch and brought it back to Long Hugh. "Here. You do it."

Drawing his dagger, Long Hugh cut the bark on the butt end of the branch into long shavings and thrust it into the fire until it was burning briskly.

"It looks like any other fire," he said.

"It is," said Tertius.

"Well, thanks." He studied him for a moment. "I see I misjudged you in many ways."

He nodded to him and to Brian then, as suddenly and silently as they had appeared, he and his men were gone.

"There are some who would think that there was something magical about that too," said Tertius, treading out the fire. "The way they appear and disappear."

"It's only good woodcraft," said Brian. "About your quest ..."

"Yes?"

"Does what you said about becoming a magician have anything to do with it?"

Tertius glanced at him. "You're quick," he said.

"Then it does?"

"Perhaps."

Brian sat down with his back against a tree.

"Tell me," he said.

Again Tertius looked at him—a long, searching look.

"All right," he said. "I will." He sat down also. "Who was the greatest enchanter who ever lived?"

"I don't know if he was the greatest ever, but in our time ...—Merlin?"

Tertius nodded. "He was a friend of my father's. Not that they had anything in common— all my father's ever been interested in is jousting and hunting and such. But apparently father saved his life during the fighting on Mortlake Moor, and Merlin was grateful. He not only gave him a balas ruby, but said he would be godfather to his sons."

"He knew he would have sons?"

"Yes. Father wasn't even married yet, but Merlin told him he would have three of them and what their names would be. Well, when Primus was born, father sent word to him, but Merlin never came to the christening."

"How is that?"

Tertius shrugged. "By that time he was already involved with Nimue and was traveling around the country with her. Perhaps he never got the message. But I think he forgot. Father said he always had been absentminded. He didn't come to Secundus's christening either. But he did come to mine."

"And?"

"He apparently felt bad about missing the other two christenings. Not that father cared by then because Primus and Secundus were turning out just the way he had hoped they would. But, to make up for it, Merlin worked his most potent magic and endowed me with all possible knowledge."

"Then you are a magician."

"No," said Tertius. "As I said, he was already infatuated with Nimue—she came to the christening with him—and he didn't have his mind on what he was doing. As a result, he made a mistake. The knowledge he endowed me with was all future knowledge."

"Future?"

"Yes. Do you know what a nuclear reactor is? A computer or a laser?"

"No," said Brian. "Should I?"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Merlin's Mistake by Robert Newman. Copyright © 1970 Robert Newman. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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.

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Merlin's Mistake 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
This is a "Lost Treasures" book, with some five others by different authors listed in the series. It is an Arthurian-era adventure in which sixteen year old Brian of Caercorbin, whose father had reportedly been killed while fighting in the Crusades, teams up with Tertius of Bedegraine to go on a quest. Tertius is "Merlin's mistake" because after his father had saved Merlin, Merlin tried to bestow a gift on the baby of all knowledge but it turned out it was only all future knowledge, and Tertius is now seeking someone to teach him present-day magic. Setting off on their quest, they come to Meliot where Brian, who falls in love with one of the king's daughters, tries to defeat the Black Knight who holds the city in terror but fails and decides to go off on his own quest to find the Knight with the Red Shield who can defeat him. Upon leaving Meliot, Brian and Tertius meet up with an old woman named Maude who asks to join them because she has a quest too. All three quests end up being intertwined, and there are many surprising twists and turns in the plot. Along the way, Brian and Tertius both learn some important lessons about courage and wisdom. This is a fantasy, and if you do not like books that make reference to "magic" in mythical situations, you will not want to read it. However, if you enjoy books related to the Arthurian legends, you should find this one interesting. There is a lot of dry humor (Tertius with his future knowledge is somewhat like the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's court), but I found nothing specifically objectionable. I do not even recall seeing any euphemisms. The book is well written and was difficult for me to put down.