I walked into the middle of a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, and I almost couldn’t put the book down. It’s too detailed a story how I came to a trilogy of books by reading the third, and it really doesn’t matter.
Merlin’s Nightmare by Robert Treskillard is better than a good book. It’s a great story, a believable story, one written for young adults but it can be read and enjoyed by almost all ages.
It is the 490s in Britain. The Romans have been long gone. The Britons are having to defend themselves against what turns out to be an invasion by the Picts in the north and the Saxons in the southeast. Merlin has been raising his family – his wife, Natalenya, and their two natural children and their adopted son, Arthur, who is 18 and is known as Artorius. Arthur, the son of the slain high king Uther, is supposed to be dead. Arthur does not know his lineage. The family lives with others in a secluded, rather secret valley, not far from the northern border.
Quickly Treskillard develops three story lines – war with the Saxons, the siege of Merlin’s valley by the Picts, and the plans of Merlin’s sister Morgana, who is seeking to reinstall the supremacy of the Druids and employs magic, bewitched men and large wolves to attain her ends. Within the three story lines are two interrelated themes – the Arthur legend before it was a legend and the battle between pagan Druidism and Christianity.
Treskillard excels with the battle scenes (of which there are many). The reader is right there on the field, splattered with the blood and gore of often ferocious battles and smelling the hot breath of the wolves on the back of one’s neck as they do Morgana’s bidding.
The characters are recognizably human. Merlin is not the Hogwarts-like wizard of The Sword in the Stone or Camelot; he is a flawed man of middle years, a devout Christian eventually forced to take the sword and fight. Arthur is a rather reckless youth of 18 who is forced to grow up very quickly. Morgana is pure evil, and the skin crawls as she manipulates men and events.
Merlin’s Nightmare is volume three of The Merlin Spiral Trilogy. The first volume is Merlin’s Blade, and the second is Merlin’s Shadow. A summary of the first two volumes is included in the third, and the entire set is available on Kindle as The Merlin Spiral Trilogy. A successor trilogy is planned, entitled The Arthur Spiral Trilogy. The books are published by Blink YA Books, an imprint of Zondervan.