This modern classic embraces its epic roots along with a dash of humor and a down-to-earth sensibility in the tale of a young Merlin and a captivating magical island.
Recommended grade level: 4-7
Pages: 326 (for ISBN 9780399230189)
Summary: A raging sea tosses a boy upon the shores of ancient Wales. Left for dead, he has no memory, no name, and no home. But it is his determination to find out who he is—to learn the truth about his mysterious powers—that leads him to a strange and enchanted land. And it is there he discovers that the fate of this land and his personal quest are strangely entwined. (Source)
Who will like this book?: This is a classic-style coming-of-age fantasy epic incorporating elements of myth. With its tried-and-true formula, it is likely to appeal to any reader who enjoys fantasy (particularly epic fantasy) and myth.
Who won’t like this book?: It’s fantasy through and through, so don’t recommend it to someone who isn’t on board with that. Readers looking for something especially different or daring in their fantasy may find this old hat.
Other comments: Full disclosure: I love love loved this book when I was young. Does that mean kids now love it? Not necessarily. But it may have influenced the contents of this entry.
Sequel(s): The Seven Songs of Merlin (1997) (aka The Seven Songs), The Fires of Merlin (1998) (aka The Raging Fires), The Mirror of Merlin (1999) (aka The Mirror of Fate), The Wings of Merlin (2000) (aka A Wizard’s Wings). See also the related series the Merlin’s Dragon trilogy and the Great Tree of Avalon trilogy.
Readalikes: Point readers toward classic high fantasy like Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Also try Tamora Pierce’s books (particularly for girls), The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan, and Eragon by Christopher Paolini.