Tag Archives: zondervan

Robert Treskillard’s Merlin’s Nightmare, more thoughts

merlinsnightmare Is the King Arthur saga so well-worn in our imaginations that we don’t have room for something more on it? Becky Miller has raised this question.

I say there’s room for new imagination. In Robert Treskillard’s trilogy The Merlin Spiral, concluding with Merlin’s Nightmare (which I reviewed here), the author has got some fresh new takes on the characters. Merlin is a blind, lovesick teenager, and Gwenivere is a gypsy. The sword in the stone … well, I won’t spoil it for you. There’s something really wild about that stone, too!

He is able to take us back to Britain in the years after the Romans withdrew, based on a vast foundation of historical research that makes the settings and situations ring true. His Britain is a far cry from the false medieval setting envisioned by early writers of these stories.

In Merlin’s Nightmare, we see a disaster for the Britons unfold. Where they had lived as a majority, many or most of them are overcome by enemies including the Saxons, leaving the survivors a rag-tag band. This group, we expect, will seek to regain their place under King Arthur in future books.

But we know how the story ends: the Anglo-Saxons took over all the Britons’ lands except for Wales and (in France) Brittany. That’s the thing about writing the Arthurian legend: we know the main characters, and we know how it all ends. But … do you have room for new imaginings here? I do.

Here are the two movie trailers for the first book (and thus the trilogy). The first is from Zondervan, the publisher; the second from the author:

Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, a review

merlinsnightmare Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard, Book 3 of the Merlin Spiral
Published 2014 by Blink, an imprint of Zondervan, 431 pages
Genre: Arthurian fantasy, suitable for young adult and up

Robert Treskillard concludes his terrific Merlin trilogy with this book, leaving some threads open for starting a new work focused on Arthur. Read my review of the first book. Read my review of the second book.

I’m really enjoying Treskillard’s re-imagining of Merlin as a non-magician. Merlin is a Christian who occasionally has visions. As the book opens, Merlin, in hiding in the North, has married his beloved Natalenya and has two children. They have also raised the young Arthur under a different name, withholding from him his true identity. But now that Arthur is 18, it’s time to tell him who he is and let him start making decisions.

The winds of war are blowing. Two summons to fight arrive. Where will they fight? The Britons (led by the traitor Vortigern) find themselves attacked by major enemies on three sides: the Picts from the North, the Saxons from the east, and Merlin’s witch sister Ganieda (Morgana) and her wolf-men from the west. Merlin is inclined to fight in the North, but Arthur slips away south to aid Vortigern against the Saxons, not knowing Vortigern will probably recognize him and kill him. Can Merlin reach him in time?

And how can Merlin protect his family in the North, if he isn’t anywhere nearby? Can he convince Arthur that the most important enemy is Merlin’s sorcerer sister, who orchestrates the others? And how on earth could they defeat her and her savage wolf-men?

I found this book to be quite the page-turner with plenty of unexpected plot points. Merlin’s character goes through a learning curve, which I won’t spoil for you. I enjoyed the fresh take on Gwenivere and the idea of a novel use for Stonehenge. It’s a terrific book; put it on your reading list, and be sure to give it to the young people in your life, especially the guys. Note: I am astounded at the amount of research Treskillard has put into these books, detailed in the appendix.

This review is in conjunction with the Christian Science Fiction/Fantasy Blog Tour. For more opinions, check out the other participants listed below. I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in conjunction with this tour.

Beckie Burnham
Jeff Chapman
Vicky DealSharingAunt
April Erwin
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rebekah Gyger
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Emileigh Latham
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Mirriam Neal
Joan Nienhuis
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jojo Sutis
Robert Treskillard
Phyllis Wheeler
Elizabeth Williams

Author website: http://www.KingArthur.org.uk

Captives by Jill Williamson, a review

Captives by Jill Williamson, Book One of The Safe Lands series, a review
Published 2013 by Zondervan, 381 pages
Genre: Dystopian suspense, young adult and up

Three brothers live in a tenuous settlement that shares a Colorado valley with a huge walled city called the Safe Lands. The year is 2088, and the Thin Plague has wiped out the population of the United States except for isolated pockets close to clean water sources. It’s a hard life for the brothers and their kin, surviving off the land and off what they can glean from the empty Denver City not far away.

Omar, a sensitive boy mocked and bullied by their father, decides to make friends with the people who live in the Safe Lands, although others warn him that those who go in never come out. Maybe there he will feel like he belongs. It turns out the Safe Lands desperately needs people like Omar and his clan, people uninfected by the Thin Plague who can help the Safe Lands repopulate. Omar decides his family will like the apparently easy life in the Safe Lands, and he arranges to have them taken there.

Levi, the oldest brother, is away on a trip when the Safe Landers arrive, and he returns to a village empty of life. As son of the village elder, he is elder now. He must go in to rescue the survivors, including his fiancee Jemma. But will he be able to control his temper?

Mason, the middle brother, is a gentle vegetarian who finds himself in a position of responsibility in the Safe Lands. He’s a medic, with access to the others from his village from time to time. Will he be able to make a difference for them? And can he begin to figure out what how to defeat the Thin Plague that is stunting the lives and eliminating the fertility of the Safe Landers?

Jill Williamson has delivered another impressive tale with believable, detailed characters and a strong plot line. Dystopia is a new genre for her, and she does very well in it. Her vision of 2088 Colorado has some similarities to the authoritarian world of the Hunger Games, of course, and a lot of differences too. The faith element is present but not center stage, and so I expect non-Christians will be comfortable reading this book (and hopefully thinking a bit about the faith part). There’s a clue at the very beginning: a verse from the book of Daniel. Is Mason a recasting of the Biblical Daniel, a vegetarian living in a hostile kingdom and working for the good of his people?

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series!