Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Seven Songs

Rating: 8 of 10


Merlin’s defeat of the evil king at the Shrouded Castle has brought about a Council around Estonahenj, one that will decide what is to be done with the restoration of Fincayra. The Council, somewhat grudgingly, allows young Merlin to take the magical Flowering Harp into Fincayra, where by a mere pluck of the string the Harp will create flourishing life in the valleys and hills. But Merlin has let pride get in the way of his task—and he decides that his own desire (bringing his mother to Fincayra) is more important than his promises to mend Fincayra’s desolation. His folly produces a wild string of events in which his mother Elen is befallen with a horrible sickness which will kill her within a month—and Merlin must learn “the essential soul” of the Seven Songs of wizardry, created by his grandfather Tuatha, and then pass into the Otherworld to find the Elixir of Dagda, in order to save her—all within that month’s time.

You can see the rating I gave the book above, but while it was a gripping story, I don’t know if it fully deserves the equivalent of four stars. Like its predecessor, it tended to be overly dramatized and its “comic relief”—a sorry “jester” who couldn’t make anyone laugh if he deranged him or her first—was stupid, not funny. Still, I think this book had more profoundness than The Lost Years, particularly because “the essential soul” of each song is an everlasting truth. I especially like “every living thing is precious somehow.” (I got to relate that to Martin Eden, by Jack London, today.) Another thing I liked about the book was its several references to Stonehenge—first in the ruins of the Shrouded Castle, then when Merlin learns that he’s been prophesied to build an Estonahenj in a land near Gwynedd (or in a land which we now call England!). Since recently for my anthropology/introduction to archaeology class I was assigned to look around the Internet to find myths/theories about the erection of Stonehenge, this part was even more interesting to me. Also, the sword Merlin carries will be called Excalibur in the future. I’m a lover of parallels and plot lines that all tie together, so all of these references were pretty cool.

Should you read it? I liked it, but I would recommend it, in general, for a younger age audience—maybe fifteen and under. Though it holds truths that even adults won’t hold in contempt, it is definitely not written for them.

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