Merlin’s Shadow continues the imaginative reworking of Arthurian legend begun in Merlin’s Blade. While it makes no pretense of being a historical account, the cultural background of cultural structure adds depth and a fresh perspective to a familiar tale. I especially appreciated the tension in Ganieda’s subplot; the author skillfully walks the line between the reader’s expectations and the girl’s devotion to her druid grandfather.
I was especially impressed by the scenes where druidic powers are used. Magic powers are common in fantasy, but they are most often portrayed as inept or totally under the user’s control—scenarios where the magic overpowers the magician are rather rare in my reading experience, and increase the stakes. If no one knows what the magic can do, then it cannot be used to resolve situations without first making them worse.
Likewise, the conflict between the druids and the Christians avoids flanderizing both sides (though I know less about the Druids), and tries to include honorable characteristics in both leaders. I also enjoyed seeing the knights of Arthur slowly gather.
I’d recommend this book not only for YA readers, but also for anyone wanting a new approach to Arthurian legend.
I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson in exchange for an honest review.