Monday, October 04, 2004

Book Review: "Merlin's Legacy: Dawn of Camelot" by Quinn Taylor Evans

As you well know, dear bloggies, I am a big Arthurian fan (see my post on "The Curse of King Arthur on Film"). I read many, many Arthurian books, both fictional and non-fiction. From time to time, when I'm desperately bored (as I am now), I'll share my latest find with you. On to the review.....


( Note: this book is a historical romance, which I usually avoid like the plague. If I want something that sickeningly sweet, I'll walk to IHOP and drink a pint of maple syrup. My husband, however, did not know this when he bought the book; he just buys me anything with "Merlin" or "Camelot" in the title. I was bored, so I read it anyway. Point being: don't expect many historical romance reviews on THE ZEN PRETZEL TRICK. I'm trying to watch my sugar intake.)

The plot revolves around Meg, the sister of the wizard Merlin (although he has never seen her). Meg grows up among the faerie people on the isle of Avalon, but soon decides to follow a changeling friend into the "real world," even though she knows it is forbidden for a magical creature such as herself to do so (Merlin, for reasons unknown, is the exception to the rule). She soon finds herself shot through with an arrow, then rescued, by the handsome Connor of Lyonesse (this, naturally, sets the stage for the prerequisite bosom-heaving love scenes). Connor is a childhood friend of Arthur, but has little love for him. In this telling of the Matter of Britain, Arthur flees England to travel with Merlin to the Holy Land, and returns to a land being ripped apart by greedy barons and maurading Saxons. Connor can't bring himself to forgive Arthur for leaving Britain to sink or swim on its own (and I can't blame him; Arthur never really gives a good reason for why it took him so long to return). Meg is taken to Arthur's castle, where she helps heal a sick Merlin (poisoned by an evil Morgan le Fey) without revealing who she is (this would be very bad, for some reason). Merlin, apparently, is too dumb to recognize his own sister or see through her very thin facade of "normalcy" in the castle. Battles ensue, bosoms heave and in the end, Meg chooses to stay with Connor in England and forever leave behind the magical world of Avalon.

This book has some interesting premises. The faerie people are interesting and lively characters. Morgan is a deceitful bitch; I saw her betrayal coming a mile away, and yet it was still mildly shocking when it finally occured. Connor's followers are colorful, particularly the evil Simon the Wise.

However, there were some lame-ass (for lack of a better word) concepts in this book as well. Arthur comes off as a weak-willed, petty brat, who is more of a follower than a leader. Merlin never really shows, in any form, the magic or wisdom he's renowned for. The idea that he could be fooled so easily by Meg is disturbing. Meg seems to be more powerful, in many ways, than Merlin...a laughable idea at best. And the romance scenes are contrived and boring; it's difficult to understand what Meg, this powerful faerie creature, would see in a man who both shot her and hates her beloved brother. And why Connor would risk all for a child-like imbecile is beyond me as well. There doesn't seem to be any real, meaningful connection. And yet, the book is supposed to revolve around this "great love." It isn't believable.

In the end, this book isn't bad, as far as historical romance goes. The actual history is pretty well-researched (the lives of the common Britons are very close to reality), and the world of Avalon is well-written and enthralling. But in the end, those two elements aren't enough to overlook the weak central characters, silly dialogue and ridiculous sexual situations.



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