“Mary Stewart, the British author of romantic thrillers who jumped genres in her 50s to create an internationally best-selling trilogy of Merlin books, reimagining the Arthurian legend from a sorcerer’s point of view, died on May 9 at her home in the village of Loch Awe, on the west coast of Scotland. She was 97.” (New York Times)
After reading the obituary in the New York Times, I spent Sunday reading The Crystal Cave, the first book in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian legend series. I’ve enjoyed many renderings of the story of Merlin, but I particularly enjoyed this one. The suspense and conflict she infuses into her scenes had me crossing my legs, not answering emails and turning pages like a madwoman.
Of course I knew what was going to happen next in the story, but that didn’t stop me, nothing stopped me. She had me, totally had me, rivetted with her skilled pen. Oh my…to write like that.
So here are two more quotes from The Crystal Cave:
When Merlin is asked about the many gods the people of their time believed in, he said,
“I think there is only one. Oh, there are gods everywhere, in the hollow hills, in the wind and the sea, in the very grass we walk on and the air we breathe, and in the bloodstained shadows where men like Belasius wait for them. But I believe there must be one who is God Himself, like the great sea, and all the rest of us, small gods and men and all, like rivers, we all come to Him in the end.”
When asked about politics, he said,
“But I have noticed this about ambitious men, or men in power, that they fear even the slightest and least likely threat to it.”
Unfortunately these quotes don’t capture her ability to gather the emotions and conflict in a scene. When Merlin’s mother in the court of a truly nasty and ruthless Medieval king fabricates the story of Merlin’s birth to protect him and Merlin says just enough to let her know, he knows the truth, the story leaps off the page. And she writes scene after scene like that. The tension builds and builds.
It’s a joy to find a new author. I know I have many great hours of happy reading ahead of me.