Merlin’s blade is a unique take on the Arthurian legends. Told mostly from the perspective of Merlin as a young man on the cusp of adulthood, the story has a decidedly historical feel. One gets the sense that considerable research went into the writing of this book. And yet the characters are what really shine here.
Merlin is the scarred son of a blacksmith in this version of the tale. Though he has trouble seeing as a result of his injuries (he’s half blind, really) he is a genuine hero. He struggles, yes. He fails many times as well. But he longs to stand against evil and do what’s right. And though the dark influences which threaten his village and really England itself seem far beyond him through most of the novel, we see his perseverance and bravery pay off in the end which is extremely satisfying.
Merlin’s romantic aspirations are quite underplayed in the story, but very noble and tender and I appreciated the author’s deftness in handling these elements. His relationship with his father has its ups and downs, but ultimately resolves in a very meaningful and moving way.
The one aspect of the story which is somewhat troubling are the pagan elements. They are very dark. Maybe a little too dark at times. And it didn’t seem like the evil forces got quite as much as they had coming to them in the end. This of course is because this is only the beginning of Merlin’s journey, and there is more to be told. Still, beyond just the inherent tragic elements of the Arthurian legend itself, the level of evil here does go a few degrees past the pale over all, I’d say.
All things considered, this is a frightfully good story and I look forward to reading more from this author about Merlin’s further adventures in the future.