Reviews for Fires of Merlin

Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 1998
Gr. 7^-10. With each book, Barron's Lost Years of Merlin saga just keeps getting richer in characterization, ambience, and Celtic lore. Taking up where The Seven Songs of Merlin (1997) left off, the third book sees young Merlin meet even more challenges, particularly as the dragon Valdearg, the last emperor of the dragons, awakens to once again threaten the entire land of Fincayra. Gulled into thinking that Merlin is the one who had slaughtered his dragon hatchlings, Valdearg searches for the young, unproven magician. Fire plays a heavy metaphorical role in the story, with Merlin facing the incomprehensible burning of his newly crafted harp, the fire of lava, and the awakening fire of passion within himself as well as the dragon's flaming breath--all of which leads to Merlin's eventual discovery of a power still higher. The plot is complex, involving not only Valdearg but also the treacherous enchantress Urnalda; the ancient sorceress Domnu, with whom Merlin becomes a reluctant ally; and an enigmatic, primordial oracle. Also, who has been breeding Kreelixes, unnatural beasts that feed on the magic of others, and has set them against Merlin? Fans will definitely be clamoring for more. ((Reviewed September 1, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

Horn Book Guide Reviews 1999
In this third book about Merlin's childhood, the young wizard embarks upon a quest to rid Fincayra of a newly reawakened dragon. He encounters friends and foes from his past and meets new adversaries who desire to strip him of his powers. Filled with action and adventure, the fantasy centers on Merlin's ever-deepening understanding of his capabilities and his character. Copyright 1999 Horn Book Guide Reviews

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October

Gr 7-9--When Jimbo hears that he might be expelled from school, his best friend has a plan to find out if the rumor is true. The two boys hide a walkie-talkie in the teacher's lounge, but end up hearing more than they planned on. Soon they are being pursued by people with amazing powers who lead them on a chase across England to places beyond their wildest dreams. The well-paced, rollicking story line vacillates between hair-raising and hilarious. The relationships between the three main characters, especially the love-hate relationship Jimbo has with his leather-clad, motorcycle-riding older sister, are realistic and charming. Even the secondary characters are unique and interesting. Julian Rhind-Tutt reads Mark Haddon's book (Random/David Fickling Books, 2010) with a pronounced blue-collar British accent. He reproduces the cadences and idioms of a London teen with delightful authenticity and makes each character sound unique. This book contains language that might be offensive to some, but the swearing is in keeping with the age of the characters and the setting. Some British slang might be unfamiliar, but the meaning is usually discernable in context. Jimbo's adventure is much lighter and less philosophical than Only You Can Save Mankind (HarperCollins, 2006), but has some Pratchett-like random spontaneity. A great choice for reluctant readers, especially boys, and anyone who is in the mood for a bit of fun.--Donna Cardon, Provo City Library, UT

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 March
Gr 6-9-This third installment in what is slated to be a five-book "epic" finds the still-untried Merlin battling the great dragon Valdearg, who was put to sleep by Merlin's grandfather many years ago. The young wizard hopes to save the magic island of Fincayra from the wrath of this creature who is awakened when someone destroys the eggs containing the last of his offspring. According to an ancient prophecy, Merlin will perish in the battle, but he persists with the help and hindrance of a varied cast of characters. To make matters worse, he seems to have lost his magic. Still, he perseveres. There are no surprises here, but that is precisely what will appeal to fans of the series. Sometimes the prose is overwritten in an attempt to sound properly grave and ends up reading a little like a parody of the genre, but the constant action and flow from one predicament to another keep the story going. Because the frequent references to prior events will confuse those who haven't read the previous titles, this book is best read in conjunction with the others.-Carrie Schadle, Beginning with Children School, New York City Copyright 1999 School Library Journal Reviews

VOYA Reviews 1999 February
Fans of Barron's first two Merlin volumes will welcome the further adventures of their reluctant hero. Having earned his staff in Seven Songs of Merlin (Philomel, 1997), the would-be wizard has undertaken serious training with the bard Cairpre. Hemust interrupt his efforts, however, when the sleeping dragon Valdearg awakens to threaten the isle of Fincayra again. Dwarf queen Urnalda demands his help-but unbeknownst to Merlin, she has struck a deal with the evil Rhita Gawr to steal Merlin'smagic in return for a promise of safety for the dwarves. Before he can confront the dragon, Merlin faces a series of perils including eluding the kreelixes, fearsome birdlike creatures once thought extinct, and decoding the prophetic Wheel of Wye, whose power can either help or destroy him. He is aided byhis twin sister Rhia and new allies Hallia and Eremon, sometimes human and sometimes deer, who share with him their power of transformation. Merlin must first conquer his own fear that, his magic lost, he is no wizard after all. Barron originally intended a trilogy but now projects five volumes in Merlin's saga. He certainly does not lack for inventive situations and characters. One adventure leads to another without a clear sense of dramatic arc or resolution, but theaction hardly pauses long enough for one to notice. Readers of Tolkien or Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series may find this a reworking of familiar material with a few twists thrown in, but the appeal of Merlin, Arthur's enchanter, is bound to drawothers who will appreciate Barron's clear, readable style and non-stop action.-Kathleen Beck. Copyright 1999 Voya Reviews