The Crystal Cave is Mary Stewart’s hallucinogenic tale of Merlin, the shadowy figure of Arthurian legends and post-Roman history.
Myrddin Emrys, later to become known as Merlin, is the bastard son of the daughter of the King of South Wales by an man whom the daughter refuses to name.
When the story opens, Merlin is six years old, has the vocabulary of an Oxford don and absorbs every word he hears.
Political intrigue abounds and Merlin hears more than is good for him.
In his early teens, Merlin is kidnapped and taken to Brittany where he has one of his first visions, which brings him to the attention of the man who turns out to be his father. Ambrosius is preparing to invade and make himself King of all Britain.
Merlin joins him.
Even the dust jacket writer couldn’t come up with a summary of the plot of Cave. I won’t even attempt one.
All sorts of implausible events happen to Merlin, all of which fit perfectly with Stewart’s implausible characterization of him.
Merlin is not only a seer, but a skilled engineer, astronomer, physician, diplomat, politician, and dirty tricks artist.
Cave is not an historical novel, nor a fantasy, nor a romance, but a mash of all of them.
This long, convoluted tale is best avoided by all but die-hard Mary Stewart fans.
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
William Morrow, © 1970. 514 p.
1970 bestseller #4. My grade: C-
© 2018 Linda Gorton Aragoni