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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Merlin's Harp - Anne Eliot Crompton

Read for the Once Upon a Time IV Reading Challenge.

Niviene is of the Fey, and unlike most of those mysterious people, lives with her family: her mother Nimway, the Lady of the Lake, and her brother Lugh, on the magical island of Avalon. The mage Merlin is a frequent visitor to the island, where he plays his harp for them, and tells them tales of the human world.

There is one other resident of the island, Mellias, and when he kidnaps the human queen Gwenevere, it changes the life of everyone on the island forever. Lugh is eventually charged with bringing Gwenevere back to her husband, where he remains, and becomes the great knight Lancelot. Niviene eventually also journeys to the outside world to help Merlin defend the king with magic, and her interactions with King Arthur prove fateful.

My copy of the book (an older copy I bought used – they’ve since repackaged it with a glossy modern style Twilight-esque cover) blurbs that this book is like The Mists of Avalon, and seeing that, I suspect I came to this book with higher expectations than I should have. The Mists of Avalon was a seminal book in my younger reading career – one of the books I could not put down until it was done, and the one that led me to read other books about King Arthur. This book does not hold a candle to TMOA. It’s an interesting twist on the Lady of the Lake story, and the language is lovely, but it skips over such large parts of the Arthur-mythos is comes out in the end as a bit hurried and disjointed. However, I do realize that I’m coming to his book after having read quite a bit of Arthuriana, so I wonder if that has jaded my views a bit. I’m certainly not sorry to have read this book, but it ultimately left me wanting more.


DesLily said...

very interesting.
I have admired the cover of the newer printing of this book and came close to buying it.. not sure I want to now, but the cover pulls me to it! I think my favorite Arthur/ Merlin books were Mary Stewarts trilogy.

I saw this on other people's lists it will be something I will watch with interest! Thanks for the review!

Megan said...

You should pick it up if you have the chance. I do think I would have liked it more had it not been immediately linked to the Mists of Avalon in my mind.