Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Merlin: The Dragon's Call by Various

September 2009, Bantam Books
200 pages, Hardback
Review Copy

Children's, TV tie-in

Cushions: 2
Smiles: 5
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥

The tale of Arthur and Merlin is currently running on BBC 1 in the series Merlin. Yes, I have been watching it. If I remember correctly, this installment follows Merlin in the first episode when he arrives at Camelot.

Merlin, a boy full of powerful magic and a fair amount of mischief is bewildered by Camelot. Compared to his mother's home, it is busy and full of life. He soon feels at home when he stands up for a servant being bullied by an arrogant youth. Poor Merlin, he wasn't to know that youth was Prince Arthur. Earning a stint in the stocks Merlin meets Gwen, the maid to Morgana who is King Uther's ward. This chance meeting saves Merlin from trouble when he ends up in Morgana's chambers: Morgana doesn't see him and thinks he is Gwen.

Merlin is taken in by the court physician, Gaius, who uses him for many tasks, including carrying medicines to patients. It is on such an errand that he enters the chamber of a visiting singer, Lady Helen. Unusually Lady Helen has her mirror covered up. Merlin didn't see the reflection in it as he left - a good thing too or Lady Helen would have killed him. She isn't the Lady Helen, but a wielder of magic who has a grudge against Uther - not that you can blame her, since he killed her son for using magic. Ah yes, magic. Merlin may be a wizard, but he can't show it to anyone in public or he too will die. During his adventures sometimes using magic is the only answer to save the day. He can't always hide what he does, which leads to various punishments, before and after Arthur makes Merlin his manservant.

This book follows the TV show closely. It was fun to relive the episode, seeing Merlin have the nerves to call Arthur names, recalling Arthur's arrogance and Gwen's sweet side. The story adds a new level to the TV show because it lets the reader enter the heads of all the characters. I have a deeper understanding of how trapped Morgana feels as Uther's ward, unable to make changes because her guardian sees life differently. Most importantly I got to delve into the fake Lady Helen's thoughts, showing how deep her desire for revenge was. I want to watch the episode again, to view it in a new light.

This book is currently up for grabs in competition #4

Liked this? The series continues in Valiant (soon to be reviewed).


Jo said...

Awesome review, Jess! I didn't really think I would enjoy the Merlin books as they would just be copies of the programme, but knowing we get into everyone's heads is awesome! I'll be entering your contest now!

GMR said...

Just entered your contest! (open to bloggers everywhere...YAY and thank you!) Usually I try to read the book first when it's about to be released in theaters, although it can be fun sometimes to versus that order. You have the characters faces in your mind already, thus allowing you to follow the story through without creating them from scratch. Plus you get to go through some of your favorite scenes once again. Great post!

Yunaleska said...

The books are definitely more than copying the programme. Glad you've entered.

Thanks GMR!