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The Crystal Cave summary

Crystal Cave image

Book I of the Merlin Trilogy

Almost everyone knows Merlin as the dark, brooding figure mysteriously associated with Camelot and King Arthur’s court.

But who, really, was Merlin? Was he the enchanter of fairy tales, the magician in the black robe and pointed hat and wand? Or was he the king and prophet of old legends of Brittany and Wales? How did a man reputed to be the bastard son of the Prince of Darkness, and condemned to death as a child of the Devil, become the chief architect of the first united Britain?

Mary Stewart’s answers to these provocative questions form a spell-binding novel that catapults the reader into fifth-century Britain – a land uncertainly emerging from Roman rule and divided by conflicting loyalties, political and spiritual; a land riddled with rumor real and planted, and spear-alert with superstitious fear.

Into this strange world was born Merlin, bastard son of Niniane, daughter of the King of South Wales, and an unknown father. The novel opens in Wales when Merlin is seven, and closes in Cornwall, at Tintagel, with the begetting of Arthur.

Mary Stewart is one of the most widely read novelists writing today. Her great gift as a storyteller, her enviable flair for making places and action come alive have never been more clearly defined than in The Crystal Cave.

This is not a story to be read once, however eagerly, and then forgotten. Its imaginative truth will stand the test of time.

--jacket, William Morrow edition, 1970