“The gods only go with you if you put yourself in their path. And that takes courage.”
"The Crystal Cave" recounts Merlin's story from the age of about six. He grows up at a Welsh king's court as the bastard son of Princess Niniane. It's a mystery who his father is, only known to Merlin as 'the prince of darkness'. Merlin finds out he has a special gift, known as 'the Sight' and he is instructed how to cope with that by the hermit Galapas. When the king dies and his son, Camlach, becomes the new ruler, Merlin suddenly finds himself in danger. He runs away and ends up in Less Britain (Brittany), where he meets Ambrosius, who, along with his brother Uther, is preparing to conquer Britain. Arthur himself doesn't appear yet in this first book, but Merlin's prescience of the coming of the 'once and future king' is present all through the novel.
"The Crystal Cave" is a great novel which mixes history, fantasy and legend in a very entertaining way. Usually Merlin is portrayed as a quite mysterious character, but seeing the events unfold from his point of view, makes for an original take on the myth. It's beautifully written, with an intriguing plot, a fantastic, mysterious atmosphere and great characters. An excellent read.
Author: Mary Stewart
Title: The Crystal Cave
Publisher: EOS, New York
Year: 2003 (orig. 1970)
Number of pages: 495 p.