Reviews for Lost Years of Merlin


Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
After an altercation in which he loses his sight, twelve-year-old Emrys swears never to use his magical powers again, but his resolve is sorely tested during his subsequent journey to discover his true identity. Set on the legendary Island of Fincayra, this novel about the childhood of the wizard Merlin is imaginative and convincing. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1996 July
~ Barron (The Merlin Effect, 1994, etc.) transforms the early years of the mythical wizard's life into a vivid, action-filled fantasy, replete with deep forests, ruined castles, and evil spells: a promising first installment of a projected trilogy. Although Emrys, 12-year-old son of Branwen, has fantastic powers, he is also a charismatic and sympathetic character; many readers will no doubt empathize with his self-pity, awkwardness, and the tense relationship he shares with his mother, a witch. But Barron never forgets his hero's destiny, and so when Emrys defends his mother from the flames of an angry mob by telekinetically burning the town bully, he leaps into the fire to save the boy and loses his own eyesight. Recovering in an abbey from his burns, Emrys develops second sight, vows to never again use his powers in anger, and sets out to learn his destiny. Along the way, he meets Rhia, who is brave, intelligent, and resourceful, and who enlists his aid in the war that forms the final steps toward adulthood that Emrys--now Merlin--takes. While Barron is careful to show that Merlin is still physically a boy, readers are left with a vision of a more confident, compassionate hero, prepared to confront the joys and sorrows that await him in future volumes. (Fiction. 8-14) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1996 August #2
In this coming-of-age fantasy, Barron (The Merlin Effect) investigates what he perceives as the mystery of the great enchanter's little-mentioned childhood and adolescence. Merlin himself narrates, at first in realistic mode as a child called Emrys in a grubby village in Wales, where he had washed ashore five years earlier; he is haunted by his inability to remember his earlier life. After some misadventures when his supernatural powers develop, he decides to set about "finding my past, my identity." Somehow he makes his way across the ocean to Fincayra, a strange place not quite of this world. There he gets drawn into a great conflict between good and evil, and the story mutates into a high fantasy quest populated by weird and mythic creatures. This part of the tale draws heavily on the Welsh Mabinogion; some of Merlin's adventures thus resemble Taran's in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, which also uses that body of legend. Merlin learns of his Fincayran birthright, but in the clumsily handled conclusion he looks off into the future (and to the planned sequel), having decided that although he has found his past and his identity he has not found his "true home." Some readers?mostly teens or adults?will be looking eagerly with him. Others may find this attempt to create a biography for Merlin less of an organic novel than a showcase for the author's deft recycling of Welsh myth. Ages 8-up. (Sept.) Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 1996 September
Gr 5-8 This first installment in a planned trilogy about Merlin's shadowy youth takes some intriguing twists. Young Emrys washes up on a Welsh beach with a woman who claims to be his mother. For years, they share a hovel, but Branwen tells him nothing about his past. One day he discovers that he has some unusual powers; using them to kindle a fire in Branwen's defense, he is blinded by the flames. However, he learns to see without eyes using his "second sight." Desperate to know about his past, Emrys, now 12, sets off on an ocean journey. He lands on Fincayra, where he plunges into a dangerous quest to rescue the island from the destructive blight caused by a pact between its king and an evil power. In the process, he befriends a young Fincayran girl and a dwarf who becomes a giant through a brave deed. Emrys also learns the truth about his origins. The Fincayran portion of the story is very much like Lloyd Alexander's "Prydain Chronicles": a young boy and girl team up with a cute non-human to save a kingdom from the force of evil, with Welsh-style names abounding. Also, while the characterization of the hero is excellent, the portrayal of some minor figures is fair at best. However, the fast-moving plot is sure to keep readers turning pages. The tale is compelling enough to ensure that they will anticipate the next book in the series to learn how the events ultimately tie in to the more familiar body of Arthurian legend. Mary Jo Drungil, Niles Public Library District, IL Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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