So I was quite excited when I was offered the opportunity to review Merlin's Blade, by Robert Treskillard.
"In a land of myth and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom will fall on the shoulders of a young boy. His name ... Merlin."
Oh wait. Wrong story.
Merlin's greatest weakness could become his greatest strength.
When a meteorite crashes near a small village in fifth-century Britain, it brings with it a mysterious black stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow -- a power the druids hope to use to destroy King Uther's kingdom. The only person who seems immune is a young, shy, half-blind swordsmith's son named Merlin.
As his family, village, and even the young Arthur, are placed in danger. Merlin must face his fears and his blindness to take hold of the role ordained for him. But when he is surrounded by adversaries, how will he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil ... without losing his life?
First off, check out the sword on the cover. Isn't it gorgeous? The author made it himself. Unbelievable, right? He's also offering you a chance to win a sword just like it in a contest over at his website.
Anyway, back to the book.
I love the setting that the story is placed in. Ancient Britain has always been ... and doubtless always will be near and dear to my heart. It is at once apparent that Robert Treskillard has done his research well.
Likewise, the concept of the stone is both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. And the druids, well, they're not exactly the sort you'd like to have for next door neighbors, if you catch my drift.
I also enjoyed the way that Robert Treskillard reimagined Merlin as well as several other characters, events, and concepts from the original legends. Here Merlin is no skilled warlock or wizard. He is the son of a swordsmith, half-blinded after saving his younger sister from wolves. From the start, Merlin's compassionate and self-sacrificial nature make him a character for readers to fall in love with.
As Merlin is half-blind and much of the story is written from his perspective, I can only imagine the difficulties Robert Treskillard faced when it came to describing what was happening. At times however, it felt forced. Characters would unnecessarily explain things in dialogue, or take time in the middle of the action to explain exactly what had happened. These conversations felt forced. They didn't ring true.
Perhaps it was also a result of trying to write from the blind Merlin's perspective, but the pacing oftentimes felt rushed and disjointed, skipping around from scene to scene.
All in all, I enjoyed reading Merlin's Blade and I look forward to adding it to my shelf of Arthurian legends, and reading the next book, Merlin's Shadow, when it is available!
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