Friday, 16 January 2015

Review: 'The Hollow Hills' by Mary Stewart

The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart, 1973, Eos, $15.99, softbound, 475 pages. Cover: good, but Arthur looks a bit too much like a model. Category/genre: fantasy. Where we got it: publisher. Where you can get it: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million. 

This, the second installment in Stewart's Arthurian saga, takes place the morning after the events in The Crystal Cave. Merlin returns to his cave and discovers his magic is gone. But he is still needed in Arthur's life even this early on: the queen, Ygraine, wants Merlin to take the child and raise him once he is born. 

But it's decided that until the boy is weaned, he will be cared for by Moravik, Merlin's old nurse, and Ralf, Merlin's assistant. Then he will be raised in secret by Count Ector, a friend of the king. Merlin will meet Arthur when it is time. 

When it's time for Arthur to come into his own, Merlin will have to face an old enemy and see that Arthur is declared king before it's too late. 

Stewart's imagining of the Arthurian legend is one of the best you'll ever come across. Her historical accuracy and rich characters, coupled with a rather mundane take on Merlin's skills as a magician make this an unusual read. 

If you like this one, try: The Last Enchantment, by Mary Stewart. 

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