HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Merlin’s Blade
Author: Robert Treskillard
Publisher: Blink, 2013
Related websites: http://www.epictales.org (author), http://www.kingarthur.org.uk (series), http://zondervan.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 13 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Treskillard, Robert. Merlin’s Blade (published in 2013 by Blink Young Adult Books, an imprint of Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 49530). There appears to be a great deal of interest in the Arthurian legends generally, and Merlin specifically, among modern writers of youth fiction including those that would be considered Christian. I have not read the five-book Merlin series by Thomas A. Barron nor the six-book Pendragon Cycle by Stephen Lawhead, but both are reputed to be good. In Merlin’s Blade, the first of the projected Merlin Spiral trilogy, author and Celtic enthusiast Robert Treskillar, a software developer and graphic artist who exhibited and I think even spoke at the Greater St. Louis Area Home Educators Expo last year, gives his take on the life of Merlin, and it is a distinctly Christian one that portrays the conflict between paganism and Christianity in fifth century Britain. When the book opens, Merlin is a fifteen-year old young man who is partially blind due to a wolf attack.
Merlin’s parents were Christians, but after his mother Gwevian drowned when he was but a child, his father Oswain, a swordsmith, married Monda, the daughter of a Druid arch priest, and turned away from Christ. However, under the tutelage of local monks, Merlin has become a believer. The Druids, led by Oswain’s father-in-law Morganthu, return to Merlin’s home village of Bosventor with a mysterious meteor stone that bewitches anyone who comes in contact with its glow. They hope to use it to destroy the high King Uthur who supports Christianity. Merlin, who seems immune to the stone, offers fealty to Uthur and his heir Arthur. When his family, village, and even the young Arthur, are placed in danger, Merlin must face his fears and his blindness to take hold of the role ordained for him. But how can he save the girl he cherishes and rid Britain of this deadly evil, all without losing his own life?
In the book, Merlin is pictured more as an up and coming prophet-bard than a magical “wizard.” There are some references to drinking mead and wine and one instance of a euphemism (“drat” which literally means “God rot”), but nothing with any major objections occurs. Of course, a lot of fighting and killing happen, so this might not be a good book for younger or rather sensitive children, and the length of the chapters and nature of the plot may not be the best for reluctant readers. However, most teenagers will likely enjoy the story, especially those interested in Merlin and Arthur. Treskillard and his wife have three children and are still homeschooling their youngest. Book 2, Merlin’s Shadow, in which Merlin finds himself to be a royal advisor without a king, so along with his friend Garth and Natalenya, his betrothed, he treks north with the orphaned Arthur in hopes of keeping the young ruler safe from soldiers misled by their turncoat captain Vortigern, was released in the fall of 2013. Book 3, Merlin’s Nightmare, will be available in the spring of 2014.