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The Last Enchantment

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Arthur Pendragon is King! Unchallenged on the battlefield, he melds the country together in a time of promise. But sinister powers plot to destroy Camelot, and when the witch-queen Morgause -- Arthur's own half sister -- ensnares him in an incestuous liaison, a fatal web of love, betrayal, and bloody vengeance is woven.


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Arthur Pendragon is King! Unchallenged on the battlefield, he melds the country together in a time of promise. But sinister powers plot to destroy Camelot, and when the witch-queen Morgause -- Arthur's own half sister -- ensnares him in an incestuous liaison, a fatal web of love, betrayal, and bloody vengeance is woven.

30 review for The Last Enchantment

  1. 4 out of 5

    Candi

    "Here, away from lights and sounds of town or village, the night was deep, the black sky stretching, fathomless, away between the spheres, to some unimaginable world where gods walked, and suns and moons showered down like petals falling. Some power there is that draws men's eyes and hearts up and outwards, beyond the heavy clay that fastens them to earth. Music can take them, and the moon's light, and, I suppose, love, though I had not known it then, except in worship." There has been nothing mo "Here, away from lights and sounds of town or village, the night was deep, the black sky stretching, fathomless, away between the spheres, to some unimaginable world where gods walked, and suns and moons showered down like petals falling. Some power there is that draws men's eyes and hearts up and outwards, beyond the heavy clay that fastens them to earth. Music can take them, and the moon's light, and, I suppose, love, though I had not known it then, except in worship." There has been nothing more comforting to me than to sit curled up with Mary Stewart's Arthurian series these past several weeks. This holds true for this divine last installment of the trilogy as well. Reading this felt as if I was having my own little heart-to-heart by the fireside with Merlin himself. Merlin, as he is so deftly drawn by Ms. Stewart, has quickly become one of my favorite literary characters. Not a crazed wizard lurking in the shadows with his potions and wacky prophecies, Merlin is instead a very compassionate, charismatic, intelligent, worldly and very mortal human being. His love and devotion to King Arthur is steadfast and akin to that of a father for his son; this feeling is justly returned by Arthur. In The Last Enchantment, Merlin must come to terms with a shift in his power and have faith in the will of his gods. Loss speaks to him in a manner that parallels what he understands to be the retreat of those gods. Yet, there is a purpose and meaning to all things, and Merlin never fails to point this out to me as a reader, not by preaching but simply by showing. Now, veering away from my sentiments regarding Merlin, I must point out that this book has plenty of intrigue for those that prefer a dose of drama and adventure as well. A deliciously wicked villainess in the form of Arthur's half-sister, Morgause, seeks her revenge on Merlin and demonstrates her own knowledge of not just the black arts but the wiles of a seductive woman. Merlin must reach beyond his limited experience with those of the feminine sex to battle such deviltry. "It is easier to call the storm from the empty sky, than to manipulate the heart of a man; and soon, if my bones did not lie to me, I should be needing all the power I could muster, to pit against a woman; and this is harder to do than anything concerning men, as air is harder to see than a mountain." We are also introduced to the beautiful Queen Guinevere who is worshipped not just by her King but by all her subjects within the kingdom. We see the building of the famed Camelot, deception, kidnapping, forbidden love, and true, unadulterated love. It's difficult to express the joy I feel when reading what has become a treasured book series. I am actually not one to read a series – I have so many books on my list that I don't always get around to reading those that might follow a book that I enjoyed. But this Arthurian series has been an exception rather than a rule. They are so beautifully written that I can't help but savor each one and let myself disappear in this world for a short while. This is a true escape which I highly recommend if you ever feel bogged down by reality and sameness. "Magic is the door through which mortal man may sometimes step, to find the gates in the hollow hills, and let himself through into the halls of that other world."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂

    It is a shame to rate this instalment the same as The Hollow Hills (as I found that book leaden in parts) & less than The Crystal Cave, but I do have good reasons. Bear with me. I found the first two parts of this novel absolutely enthralling, with Mrs Stewart's trademark lyrical language & description of place. But in Part 3, along with the waning of Merlin's powers, came the waning of the story. I know this was the story of Merlin the Enchanter. But my late parents were musical love It is a shame to rate this instalment the same as The Hollow Hills (as I found that book leaden in parts) & less than The Crystal Cave, but I do have good reasons. Bear with me. I found the first two parts of this novel absolutely enthralling, with Mrs Stewart's trademark lyrical language & description of place. But in Part 3, along with the waning of Merlin's powers, came the waning of the story. I know this was the story of Merlin the Enchanter. But my late parents were musical lovers & I grew up listening to; This was the part of the legend I had been eagerly awaiting, but Mrs Stewart sheds no light on Guinevere's apparent lack of interest in the most powerful man of his age - who was young, handsome & in this telling, treated her with unfailing courtesy. So Arthur & Guinevere came across like this; If possible, they were even more plastic. I really struggled to get through this & the start of Part Four. Merlin & Nimuë's relationship. (not a spoiler, these are well known legends) I just couldn't help a shiver of revulsion. This would be because I was picturing Merlin like this; I'm doing this as a buddy read & one of the other participants, Karlyne, puts Merlin's age at around 40. Maths isn't my strong suit but I was thinking 50. So... Better? When Merlin was (view spoiler)[ entombed in his beloved cave, I felt every moment. That was thrilling! (hide spoiler)] & I'm glad Nimuë wasn't portrayed as a total villainess, because the legend was starting to feel misogynistic. That did leave some of her motivation as quite baffling but that was better than having all the female characters cook, clean or betray. So all in all a most excellent read & I'm looking forward to The Wicked Day. I also had a lot of pleasure reading different Wikipedia entries & I recommend you do the same.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I have put down this book once more with a sigh and a feeling that I have been in the presence of greatness. I have been there with Merlin, with Arthur, with Ambrosius; and I am reluctant, as always, to have it come to an end. It was almost night, but over beyond Maridunum in the west, a lingering bar of light hinted at the dying sun. It threw a glint on the river skirting the palace wall where I was born, and touched a jewel spark on the distant sea. Near at hand the trees were bare with winter I have put down this book once more with a sigh and a feeling that I have been in the presence of greatness. I have been there with Merlin, with Arthur, with Ambrosius; and I am reluctant, as always, to have it come to an end. It was almost night, but over beyond Maridunum in the west, a lingering bar of light hinted at the dying sun. It threw a glint on the river skirting the palace wall where I was born, and touched a jewel spark on the distant sea. Near at hand the trees were bare with winter, and the ground crisp with the first frost. Arthur trod away from me across the grass, leaving ghost-prints in the frost. He reached the place where the track led down to the grove, and half turned. I saw him raise a hand. 4/13/20 ----------------- The Last Enchantment is Mary Stewart’s third installment in her Arthurian novels, and the last of the trilogy that centers around the character of Merlin. In her inimitable way, Stewart gives us the final days of Merlin and brings us full circle to the beginning of The Crystal Cave, in which we are introduced to an old man setting out to tell his tale of wonder in service to his god. Arthur, now King of all Britain, must deal with all the obstacles to his reign that have become so much a part of the legend of his life. Evil, in the person of Morgause, his sister and the mother of his only child, rears its head and bites into the fabric of his glory, and Merlin must help him to steer a course through the dangers she presents. Guinevere comes into his life and with her the seeds of a love for his best friend that is forbidden but impossible to ignore. Merlin experiences love and possible betrayal, and the hardest of all things, the waning of his power. The strength of this series for me has always been the perception of Merlin as a man and not a wizard, a tool of the gods but never a god himself. Stewart carries that theme right to the end in a way that makes you ache for Merlin and share his accomplishments and sorrows in a way that would be impossible if he were all-knowing or in control. The love he inspires in and feels for Arthur is palpable and his failure to understand women and their needs is evident as he deals with the female characters who become so important in his final days. I said to the ghosts, to the voices, to the empty moonlight: ‘It was time. Let me go in peace.’ Then, commending myself and my spirit to God who all these years had held me in his hand, I composed myself for sleep. This was the last thing that I know to be truth, and not a dream in darkness. This is not the end of Merlin’s tale, but which of us would not be satisfied to be able to lay our lives down with so little fear and such faith? I love this series so much and feel so much still when reading them, that I always feel the desire to be able to convey that feeling in some way and inspire others to pick them up and read. There is much of fantasy, history, and legend here, but there is more. There is love, betrayal, purpose, faith and the idea that a life that is lived for something other than self-service is a life worth living and full of reward. There is a sense that if you set yourself in the path of the gods they will guide you toward your true destiny, but that no man can ever go there by himself and without their help. There is the assurance that the encounters we have in life are worth having, even if in the end we must kiss them and let them go. And, perhaps that even in the lives that are touched with great doings and important events, it is the simple things, like the love of a man for his son, that are truly important. I lifted my head, remembering, once more, the child who had listened nightly for the music of the spheres, but had never heard it. Now here it was, all around me, a sweet, disembodied music, as if the hill itself was a harp to the high air. The music is there, all around us, and if we listen long enough we will hear it and it will be enough to satisfy us at last.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    The third in Mary Stewart's extremely enchanting and brilliant Merlin trilogy, this book is like it's predecessors extremely engaging, magical, thrilling, absorbing and holds you interest. The passion, intrigue, romance, emotion, and the panoramic sweep of events holds your attention throughout It begins at the beginning of Arthur's reign in Dumpeldyr in Scotland, where King Lot and Arthur's wicked half-sister Morgause reign and sexual encounter with Morgause.... Following the narrative through t The third in Mary Stewart's extremely enchanting and brilliant Merlin trilogy, this book is like it's predecessors extremely engaging, magical, thrilling, absorbing and holds you interest. The passion, intrigue, romance, emotion, and the panoramic sweep of events holds your attention throughout It begins at the beginning of Arthur's reign in Dumpeldyr in Scotland, where King Lot and Arthur's wicked half-sister Morgause reign and sexual encounter with Morgause.... Following the narrative through the eyes of Merlin the enchanter,Merlin's role as Arthur's right hand man and spy at large. It covers the events of the building up of Arthur's kingdom,the struggle against the invading Saxon hordes and Merlin's efforts to contain the ambitious lords who covet the throne. Central to the novel are the wicked plots of Arthur's half-sister , and most now contend with her bastard son Mordred, who the great clairvoyant Merlin has foreseen will be the death of Arthur. Finally the book takes us to Merlin's retreat at Applegarth and Bryn Myrddin where he apprentices a beautiful and intelligent young girl Niniane (Nimue) and finds love with her in his old age. Nimue is to be trained in Merlin's powers before Merlin retires the Crystal Cave and lives the happy life of a hermit. The total effect creates a compelling and spellbinding epic which serves as an imposing example of the author's enthusiasm for her subject as well as an intriguing look into 5th century Britain through the author's skill.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sotiris Karaiskos

    The third book of the series, essentially the book that closes Merlin's trilogy. In this we generally follow the well-known story, although because of the nature of the series so far we are following the events mainly from a distance, with the exception of some very important moments where the magician of our story is directly involved. On the one hand, of course, that does not mean very good things, since essentially very important pieces of King Arthur's story that have even some historical ba The third book of the series, essentially the book that closes Merlin's trilogy. In this we generally follow the well-known story, although because of the nature of the series so far we are following the events mainly from a distance, with the exception of some very important moments where the magician of our story is directly involved. On the one hand, of course, that does not mean very good things, since essentially very important pieces of King Arthur's story that have even some historical background are left out. On the other hand, however, the things that remain allow us to infiltrate still more to Merlin's character as the writer puts us deep into his psychology, showing us what his own desires are and the way he perceives all power games played. Perhaps in the end this is the main purpose of this series, to show us the perspective of a man who is part of this story but at the same time he keeps the necessary distance to see things more cool. In any case, there may not be the usual narrative in this series but certainly there is enough interest. Of course one book still remains, the one with the final battle, so there may be compensation for those seeking a more common approach.  So this book may not be something realy great, but it's definitely worth out appreciation. Especially when we reach the most critical points this value becomes greater as the writer delivers them in a very beautiful way that excites and moves. In contrast, with the two previous I found less points of it indifferent. That's why I think it's definitely the best book in the series so far and definitely the perfect finish for Merlin's story. Beyond that I expect to go to the next book and the big finale to make the final conclusions. Τρίτο βιβλίο της σειράς, ουσιαστικά το βιβλίο που κλείνει την τριλογία του Μέρλιν. Σε αυτό ακολουθούμε σε γενικές γραμμές την πολύ γνωστή ιστορία αν και εξαιτίας της φύσης της σειράς ως τώρα παρακολουθούμε τα γεγονότα κυρίως από κάποια απόσταση, με εξαίρεση μερικές πολύ σημαντικές στιγμές όπου ο μάγος της ιστορίας μας έχει άμεση εμπλοκή. Από τη μία, φυσικά, αυτό δεν σημαίνει και πολύ καλά πράγματα καθώς ουσιαστικά πολύ σημαντικά κομμάτια της ιστορίας του βασιλιά Αρθούρου που έχουν μάλιστα και κάποια ιστορική βάση μένουν απέξω. Από την άλλη, όμως, αυτά που μένουν μας επιτρέπουν να διεισδύσουμε ακόμα περισσότερο στον χαρακτήρα του Μέρλιν καθώς η συγγραφέας μας βάζει πολύ βαθιά στην ψυχολογία του, δείχνοντάς μας τι δικές του επιθυμίες που αναγκαστικά βάζει στην άκρη και τον τρόπο που αντιλαμβάνεται όλα τα παιχνίδια εξουσίας που παίζονται. Ίσως στο τέλος αυτός είναι και ο κύριος σκοπός αυτής της σειράς, να μας δείξει την οπτική γωνία ενός ανθρώπου που είναι μέρος αυτής της ιστορίας αλλά παράλληλα διατηρεί και την απαραίτητη απόσταση για να βλέπει τα πράγματα πιο ψύχραιμα. Όπως και να έχει μπορεί να μην υπάρχει σε αυτή τη σειρά η συνηθισμένη αφήγηση αλλά σίγουρα υπάρχει αρκετό ενδιαφέρον. Βέβαια μένει ακόμα το βιβλίο με την τελική μάχη οπότε ίσως υπάρχει εκεί η αποζημίωση για όσους αποζητούν μία πιο συνηθισμένη προσέγγιση. Οπότε αυτό το βιβλίο μπορεί να μην είναι κάτι συγκλονιστικό αλλά σίγουρα έχει την αξία του. Ειδικά όταν φτάνουμε στα πιο κρίσιμα σημεία αυτή η αξία γίνεται μεγαλύτερη καθώς η συγγραφέας τα αποδίδει με έναν πολύ όμορφο τρόπο που συναρπάζει και συγκινεί. Σε αντίθεση, μάλιστα, με τα δύο προηγούμενα βρήκα σχετικά διαφορά λιγότερα σημεία του. Για αυτό νομίζω ότι σίγουρα είναι το καλύτερο βιβλίο της σειράς ως τώρα και σίγουρα το ιδανικό τελείωμα για την ιστορία του Μέρλιν. Από εκεί και πέρα περιμένω να προχωρήσω στο επόμενο βιβλίο και στο μεγάλο φινάλε για να βγάλω και τα τελικά συμπεράσματα.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marci

    I've been reading this King Arthur series over and over since I was a teenager. I love it so much, I have a hard time reading any other version of the King Arthur tale. The series is written from the viewpoint of Merlin.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Hupe

    The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart is the 3rd book in the Arthurian Saga. This book pretty much picks up where the 2nd book left off. Arthur is King. While Arthur is learning to run the kingdom, protect his people, and keep out of danger, Merlin does his best to watch out for him. Merlin and Arthur do have one thing in common in this installment…love. On top of everything else, both have to navigate these emotions and the effect they have on their reality. “Not every king would care to start hi The Last Enchantment by Mary Stewart is the 3rd book in the Arthurian Saga. This book pretty much picks up where the 2nd book left off. Arthur is King. While Arthur is learning to run the kingdom, protect his people, and keep out of danger, Merlin does his best to watch out for him. Merlin and Arthur do have one thing in common in this installment…love. On top of everything else, both have to navigate these emotions and the effect they have on their reality. “Not every king would care to start his reign with the wholesale massacre of children.” THE LAST ENCHANTMENT What a killer opening line! Unfortunately…that is the most intense part of the book. Merlin’s character does get a bit better in this book. He was insufferable in The Hollow Hills. My main issue in this book is just the lack of plot and climax in this installment. The pace is slow. I know she is drawing from the legends but the love plotlines are not enough to hold this book. It needed more. I just felt so disconnected from the story and the characters. By far, my favorite in the series is book one, The Crystal Cave. The series just seems to keep going on without a focal point. It is just Arthur doing his kingly duties and Merlin going off and watching over Arthur. However, I do love that there are more female characters in this book. I am just saying, I would LOVE a book that focuses on Nimue. So I rate this book 3 out of 5 stars.

  8. 5 out of 5

    John Porter

    And now a happy story. I read the original Merlin trilogy pretty much when it came out...I was 10 when I read The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills, and had to wait until I was 16 before Mary Stewart put out this book, the final book of the (then) trilogy. And what I remember was being disappointed in The Last Enchantment. It seemed like an afterthought, and a muddled one at that. So, okay, fast forward--I couldn't sleep a couple of nights ago, and I wolfed down The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hil And now a happy story. I read the original Merlin trilogy pretty much when it came out...I was 10 when I read The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills, and had to wait until I was 16 before Mary Stewart put out this book, the final book of the (then) trilogy. And what I remember was being disappointed in The Last Enchantment. It seemed like an afterthought, and a muddled one at that. So, okay, fast forward--I couldn't sleep a couple of nights ago, and I wolfed down The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills in one massive, insomnia-fueled gulp. I was absolutely thrilled to find out that, unlike a lot of books, they were still as good as I had remembered...better in many ways. But the real surprise was this book, which I saved for today. It is different from the first two books in the series; it's a more adult book. And I can see now what I couldn't see at 16; that the narrative voice ages with the narrator throughout the series. In this, his final book, the narrator (Merlin, for those that don't know) slips into old age and gives up his story--and, in a sense, his life--with the calm and depth of a man who has lived a good life...and knows it. A terrific book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    I tried very hard to get into this book. It was so hard. I think that it ended up ending in a weird place and after going forward and reading “The Wicked Day” I really wish that Stewart had ended this book better to just stay away from continuing the Arthurian saga. There is really not much to say that I haven’t said in the other books. I like Merlin as a narrator, but everyone else is given very little development. The book starts to feel repetitive after a while. The only new thing in this one I tried very hard to get into this book. It was so hard. I think that it ended up ending in a weird place and after going forward and reading “The Wicked Day” I really wish that Stewart had ended this book better to just stay away from continuing the Arthurian saga. There is really not much to say that I haven’t said in the other books. I like Merlin as a narrator, but everyone else is given very little development. The book starts to feel repetitive after a while. The only new thing in this one is that Stewart throws Merlin a curve ball by having him fall in love. Now this character, Nimue ends up being very important to the story, and I do applaud Stewart for having her be a heck of a lot wiser and even stronger than Merlin. But other than that, it’s same old same old. Merlin rides around a lot looking out for Arthur while Arthur is elsewhere doing kingly things. I am being facetious but honestly I was so bored while reading this book. There is very little action. I was ultimately bored while reading this unfortunately. I think because Stewart didn’t really show me anything new here. We know that Morgause is evil (I say that while twirling my invisible mustache) but I honestly felt more bored by her than anything. I think it’s because Stewart does a lot of telling to the readers about what Morgause is up to so you feel like you are hearing this story from a random guy who tries to chat you up at the bar. You just smile politely hoping he moves on soon so you can go back to drinking your wine/beer/shot. Since I am really familiar with the legend of King Arthur, his queen, Guinevere, Lancelot, Camelot, etc. I didn’t see anything new under the sun here. I think this book paints Arthur more naive than anything rather than some paragon of virtue. The last part of the book is seriously Merlin just being told everything while he was “absent” from the story. I think it could have been interesting showing how Merlin’s ability to communicate with the gods was waning and how that left him feeling adrift. Instead this whole book was really about him I think the ending was abrupt and was lacking some oomph that for all it’s faults that I had with “The Hollow Hills” at least delivered on by having Arthur crowned king. Maybe Stewart should have just ended the book with the end of Camelot instead of trying to stretch that out into a fourth book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    The Last Enchantment really suffers the most from the fact that it’s written from the point of view of a supporting character. Merlin’s an epic, iconic figure, but he’s not Arthur — and this version emphasises this even more, with Arthur’s seemingly endless heroism, patience, temperance and sensitivity. I love the Arthurian story too, but it feels like Stewart shielded almost all the characters from harm — even, in this case, some of the female characters, despite the misogynistic to ambiguous t The Last Enchantment really suffers the most from the fact that it’s written from the point of view of a supporting character. Merlin’s an epic, iconic figure, but he’s not Arthur — and this version emphasises this even more, with Arthur’s seemingly endless heroism, patience, temperance and sensitivity. I love the Arthurian story too, but it feels like Stewart shielded almost all the characters from harm — even, in this case, some of the female characters, despite the misogynistic to ambiguous treatment in the rest of the series. She has surprising sympathy for Guinevere, particularly, considering she had no mercy for Morgause. Stewart weaves in an astonishing number of the disparate stories — the two Guineveres, Nimue/Niniane/Vivien, Melwas, etc — but, almost because of that, it lacks richness to me. It feels like everything-and-the-kitchen-sink, especially with the way she shields her characters from the consequences; we’ve got Nimue and Merlin in a love story, and Nimue does indeed bury Merlin alive, and yet she didn’t mean to. And Merlin is buried alive and ‘dies’ there, but… he doesn’t die. The writing is still good, and it was entertaining enough, but… this series falls short of excellence. Originally posted here.

  11. 5 out of 5

    debbicat

    Getting back to this with the Mary Stewart group. July 2018 Oooo! This is the best of the 3 for me. Full review to follow. Very satisfying read.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    I have to disagree with Landon's review of this novel, as I think it misses the point. This is not a series that's particularly interested in the great doings of Arthur and his knights. It is interested in depicting the way people relate to each other within a framework set by prophecy. The first three stories in this series are told from Merlin's perspective. Although Merlin cares about the outcome of the battles, his powers let him know that they will turn out alright. He's also not worried ab I have to disagree with Landon's review of this novel, as I think it misses the point. This is not a series that's particularly interested in the great doings of Arthur and his knights. It is interested in depicting the way people relate to each other within a framework set by prophecy. The first three stories in this series are told from Merlin's perspective. Although Merlin cares about the outcome of the battles, his powers let him know that they will turn out alright. He's also not worried about Arthur surviving them because he knows that Arthur won't die from those battles. The danger to Arthur resides in the child Arthur fathered with his then-unknown half-sister, Morgause. Thus, Merlin's chief concern in this book is to find out everything he can about the child's fate, and to protect Arthur as best he can. This book is not Arthur-centric in the sense that the narrator follows all of Arthur's achievements. It is Arthur-centric in the sense that everything Merlin does is prompted by his desire to protect Arthur and aid him. And for me, the greatest beauty of this series is the Merlin-Arthur relationship; the love and respect they feel for each other. There is no question that Arthur is the central figure in Merlin's life, but I believe that Merlin is the central figure in Arthur's, too. Arthur knows that Merlin is the one person upon whom he can absolutely rely, the one person who will never betray him. It makes Merlin's end more poignant, because we understand what Arthur is losing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    So much for this binge; now I'll have to settle down and catch up on required reading. But it's been lovely. This, like vols. 1 and 2, is a very satisfying retelling of the story of Arthur from Merlin's point of view. Such a nice rereading to start the year! Even if you've read the series, do listen to the audio. Story and narrator combine for a fabulous experience.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Thomas

    This third book of Mary Stewart's "Merlin Trilogy", The Last Enchantment has proven to be my favorite of the set. I tend to judge the books I read by the style of book it is and how well it meets my expectations for the genre. For example, a really good adventure/thriller novel makes me want to keep reading faster and faster to get to the, hopefully, satisfying conclusion. A good mystery may make me read a bit slower to make sure I'm not missing some vital clue along the way. The Last Enchantmen This third book of Mary Stewart's "Merlin Trilogy", The Last Enchantment has proven to be my favorite of the set. I tend to judge the books I read by the style of book it is and how well it meets my expectations for the genre. For example, a really good adventure/thriller novel makes me want to keep reading faster and faster to get to the, hopefully, satisfying conclusion. A good mystery may make me read a bit slower to make sure I'm not missing some vital clue along the way. The Last Enchantment was one of those fantasy novels that made me want to really take my time, just to savor the story itself, relishing not only in the classic Arthurian mythos that I love but also in the writing style of Mary Stewart. And I did take my time, nearly a whole week for just one novel! I enjoyed the first two books in this trilogy quite a bit but this one was one notch better still. Both of the preceding novels were fine on their own but, I think, served largely to set the stage for this third volume. We start with Arthur just having been proclaimed King after Uther's death, and get to watch him through Merlin's eyes as he grows into his role. All of the pageantry of the Arthurian legends comes to the fold here but not always as we are used to seeing it. The author's note at the end explains how she used many historical texts as well as the original Arthurian works by Mallory (Morte d'Arthur) to keep to the more authentic legend. Merlin, of course, takes center stage in these novels, telling the story from his first person POV. Ms Stewart does a masterful job of keeping him honest, showing his foibles along with his genius. Not much in the way of description of battles is to be found here; Arthur is often away leading one battle or another but that is all done off stage. Rather the book concentrates more on the relationships of those around Merlin himself such as Nimue, his student/lover/wife and ultimate successor. Other prominent characters such as Morgan, Morgause, Lot, Bedwyn and a host of allied kings and queens all make their appearance. This trilogy is among the best fantasy I've read and will take an honored place on my shelves.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette

    For me this was 3.5 stars rounded up for the beautiful imagery and ponderous beauty of Merlin's thoughts and "hibernation" period quite after Arthur's reign has started. It covers numerous events in the Arthurian saga from "outside" Merlin eyes- which is often for/from great distances and context misty. And also it follows Merlin's teaching and mentoring the next "seer" and enchantress. It was enthralling in parts and also an extremely, for me it was, a difficult read. Because there is so much t For me this was 3.5 stars rounded up for the beautiful imagery and ponderous beauty of Merlin's thoughts and "hibernation" period quite after Arthur's reign has started. It covers numerous events in the Arthurian saga from "outside" Merlin eyes- which is often for/from great distances and context misty. And also it follows Merlin's teaching and mentoring the next "seer" and enchantress. It was enthralling in parts and also an extremely, for me it was, a difficult read. Because there is so much travel and with Camelot, the building of that core placement along with Merlin's Applegate- so much detail. And also at several levels dozens of moving under characters and always colored within natural and poetic language embedding. It also covers the outcomes and the progressions of Morgan, Morgause, Mordred and the love affair of Arthur's own Queen. This is a decade or more of historic battles and defense/ uniting of Britain as a unit too against the Saxon invasions. Cador's death and all of the Cornwall faction particulars also within this period nearing the ending of Merlin's "after arising again" period. For some reason, I grasped Merlin as a mind and spirit of power use far more in his youth. Lots of the other events that were of such core importance to a central British identity were lost more in this book than in the first two in the series. As Merlin relinquishes more and more of his control and power hierarchies and abilities "owned"- I just feel he is less and less Merlin. The aging in the way he does it, for me it seems sad. Arthur is THE KING and holds that ability of practical applications controls over all other human parlance in his life. Wisdom!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Oliviu Crâznic

    Entertaining and beautifullly written, quite true to the legend, but...: 1. Like the other volumes, there is no climax. There is suspense, yes, but a mild one. 2. Not often, but disturbing enough, Mary Stewart`s feminist (and inaccurate) ideas harm the story: the women`s treachery is justified, „normal” (because they are opressed!), while men are beasts, ready to forgive their children`s murderer if they are paid for their loss. Sad, could have been the best Arthurian Saga, the author being a real Entertaining and beautifullly written, quite true to the legend, but...: 1. Like the other volumes, there is no climax. There is suspense, yes, but a mild one. 2. Not often, but disturbing enough, Mary Stewart`s feminist (and inaccurate) ideas harm the story: the women`s treachery is justified, „normal” (because they are opressed!), while men are beasts, ready to forgive their children`s murderer if they are paid for their loss. Sad, could have been the best Arthurian Saga, the author being a real talent.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    I don't think this is the correct edition. Mine isn't abridged, but I didn't see the correct one. I think the reader is correct & very good. An excellent end to the trilogy. I know Stewart added another book years later & while I have read it once, I don't really want to listen to it. This is plenty. I don't think this is the correct edition. Mine isn't abridged, but I didn't see the correct one. I think the reader is correct & very good. An excellent end to the trilogy. I know Stewart added another book years later & while I have read it once, I don't really want to listen to it. This is plenty.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Wayne Barrett

    This is part III of the series and a re-read for me. Arthur has revealed himself and begun to establish himself as King and his half-sister Morgause and established herself as the witch she truly is. Still a great story and I am off to part IIII.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Donihue

    The third of five books in the series and I am thoroughly enjoying them. The writing is poetry and magic abounds. The young king grows into a man.....The young queen, innocent and wise, dies....and another rises in her place......Friends are enemies and enemies are friends........The spider sucks the last of the life from Merlin but...... Oh, and the love! Light and airy and heavy and filled with wisdom.......And polyamory......Acceptance.....No jealousy. Just love.... "Rest here, enchanter, while The third of five books in the series and I am thoroughly enjoying them. The writing is poetry and magic abounds. The young king grows into a man.....The young queen, innocent and wise, dies....and another rises in her place......Friends are enemies and enemies are friends........The spider sucks the last of the life from Merlin but...... Oh, and the love! Light and airy and heavy and filled with wisdom.......And polyamory......Acceptance.....No jealousy. Just love.... "Rest here, enchanter, while the fire dies. In a breath, in an eyelid's fall, he will see them - the dreams: The sword and the young king, the white horse and the running water, the lit lamp and the boy, smiling. Dreams, dreams, enchanter! Gone with the harp's echo when the strings fall mute. With the flame's shadow and the fire dies. Be still and listen! Far on the black air blows the great wind, rises the running tide, flows the clear river. Listen, Enchanter! Hear through the black air and the singing heir, The music."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Terence

    The Last Enchantment covers the first decade or so of Arthur’s reign. While I found myself enjoying it more than The Hollow Hills, it suffered from the same flaws I found in that book – namely, the second-hand nature of much of the narrative. Nearly everything is related to Merlin by a third party with the exception of Melwas’ abduction of Guinevere and Merlin’s tutelage of Nimuë, whom he believes is a boy in the beginning. Yet even in the latter episode, Merlin spends much of the time in a drea The Last Enchantment covers the first decade or so of Arthur’s reign. While I found myself enjoying it more than The Hollow Hills, it suffered from the same flaws I found in that book – namely, the second-hand nature of much of the narrative. Nearly everything is related to Merlin by a third party with the exception of Melwas’ abduction of Guinevere and Merlin’s tutelage of Nimuë, whom he believes is a boy in the beginning. Yet even in the latter episode, Merlin spends much of the time in a dreamlike trance, then falls into a coma and is buried alive in his hermitage at Bryn Myrddin; and, in the former, he’s the rower who takes Bedwyr to where Guinevere is held, he doesn't do anything. I can’t blame Stewart entirely for this. In the Arthurian romances and in many modern interpretations, Merlin is not the focus (if he’s incorporated into the tale at all). Traditionally, he’s the power behind the throne, the advisor to the crown, the uneasily tolerated enchanter of an ostensibly Christian king, and it’s hard to make him the center of any tale. Thus, in this series, most of the great tales of Arthur’s court are narrated after-the-fact by couriers and visitors to wherever Merlin is: The 12 battles that secure Arthur’s kingdom, the massacre of the innocents when Mordred is born, Guinevere and Bedwyr’s adultery, Accolon and Morgan’s plot to murder the king, etc. Reflecting on my comments in my review of The Hollow Hills, I had decided I was unfair in criticizing Stewart for her depiction of women. It was told from the POV of a man of 6th century AD Britain, a period not noted as a highpoint in feminine empowerment. The author was reflecting the reality of the times – women were seen as irrelevant except in their capacity to breed boys. Yet I was again astonished at the level of misogyny in The Last Enchantment, and I’m leaning back toward my original assessment. All of Arthur’s serious problems stem from the machinations of women – or they do in Merlin’s eyes – primarily his sisters, Morgause and Morgan, both of whom are "corrupted" by their flirtations with witchcraft (a suspect manifestation of the Power that acts legitimately through Merlin). Alternatively, women are silly creatures who let themselves be swayed by emotions (like compassion or fear), e.g., Guinevere. And then there’s Nimuë. In The Hollow Hills review, I suggested that Merlin is a supremely unreliable narrator, and I raise it again based on the wizard’s account of his affair with the Lady of the Lake. It’s too fairy-tale like and sentimental to ring true, and one can only wonder how delusional Merlin is when he so calmly accepts Nimuë’s explanation of his interment: She lifted her head. Her face was tragic. "Yes, and how you gave it! I only pray that you cannot remember! You had told me to learn all that you had to tell me. You had said that I must build on every detail of your life; that after your death I must be Merlin.... And you were leaving me, slipping from me in sleep ... I had to do it, hadn’t I? Force the last of your power from you, even though with it I took the last of your strength? I did it by every means I knew – cajoled, stormed, threatened, gave you cordials and brought you back to answer me again and again – when what I should have done, had you been any other man, was to let you sleep, and go in peace. And because you were Merlin, and no other man, you roused yourself in pain and answered me, and gave me all you had. So minute by minute I weakened you, when it seems to me now that I might have saved you." She slid her hands up to my breast, and lifted swimming grey eyes. "Will you tell me something truthfully? Swear by the god?" "What is it?" "Do you remember it, when I hung about you and tormented you to your death, like a spider sucking the life from a honey-bee?" I put my hands up to cover hers. I looked straight into the beautiful eyes, and lied. "My darling girl, I remember nothing of that time but words of love, and God taking me peacefully into his hand. I will swear it if you like." Relief swept into her face. But still she shook her head, refusing to be comforted. "But then, even all the power and knowledge you gave me could not show me that we had buried you living, and send me back to get you out. Merlin, I should have known, I should have known! I dreamed again and again, but the dreams were full of confusion. I went back once to Bryn Myrddin, did you know? I went to the cave, but the door was blocked still, and I called and called, but there was no sound –" "Hush, hush." She was shivering. I pulled her closer, and bent my head and kissed her hair. "It’s over. I am here. When you came back for me, I must have been drugged asleep. Nimuë, what happened was the will of the god. If he had wanted to save me from the tomb, he would have spoken to you. Now, he has brought me back in his own time, and for that, he saved me from being put quick into the ground, or given to the flames. You must accept it all, and thank him, as I do." (pp. 490-92) Contrary to what one might think given all these negative things I’ve had to say about the series, it is reasonably engaging, and Stewart is a fine writer. My disappointment arises because I think she could have pushed the envelop a bit more in developing more interesting characters or letting Merlin be more engaged in the events he narrates. It’s on now to the final book – The Wicked Day – which is told from Mordred’s point of view, and I’ve always been sympathetic to him (e.g., “Chichevache”).

  21. 5 out of 5

    M.L.

    This book has some wonderful descriptions. It was very enjoyable and did not take me long to read. The characters are interesting, and there are enough twists and new details to give a fresh spin on the legends. Merlin's general distrust of women is an interesting aspect, and in this book we do get Nimue who has a larger role. Again this book could be read as a standalone without the reader feeling too lost, though some familiarity with the Arthurian legends probably helps. I will be reading the This book has some wonderful descriptions. It was very enjoyable and did not take me long to read. The characters are interesting, and there are enough twists and new details to give a fresh spin on the legends. Merlin's general distrust of women is an interesting aspect, and in this book we do get Nimue who has a larger role. Again this book could be read as a standalone without the reader feeling too lost, though some familiarity with the Arthurian legends probably helps. I will be reading the next book in the series.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nisa

    Wow, what was that :))), after first-half finished, Mary Stewart make me feel all joy, sadness, happiness, and excitement. Until half of the book, I was thinking I loved this book too, but something was missing if I compare with the first two book and after finished half of this book she gave all the things that was missing and more and more... I was busy, tried, it was late and I knew I should wake up early after the day but I did go on reading until I finish it because even if I would take a br Wow, what was that :))), after first-half finished, Mary Stewart make me feel all joy, sadness, happiness, and excitement. Until half of the book, I was thinking I loved this book too, but something was missing if I compare with the first two book and after finished half of this book she gave all the things that was missing and more and more... I was busy, tried, it was late and I knew I should wake up early after the day but I did go on reading until I finish it because even if I would take a break I think I couldn't have slept with all excitement :)). If I tried to stop reading, this would happen, for sure :D Even though I thought -every time I finish her books in this series- I can't love this story more. She always changes my mind. Now, I give up to think I can't love this more but I can't wait to see how she will make me more fascinated :))) (view spoiler)[(Well, even though I feel sad that I won't read story Merlin's view anymore and he is gone :(( well if we don't have any more surprise :))) (hide spoiler)]

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bish Denham

    I know I read this trilogy when it first came out, but that was long, long ago in a place far, far away. I had forgotten I loved Mary Stewart's writing. Reading the third book as a stand-alone was easy. I didn't need to know Merlin and Arthur's history to enjoy this book of the last years of Merlin's life as told from his POV. I loved the detail, which to some might be too much, but to me was beautiful. Every sentence it seems, is packed with nuance of color, sound, smell, sight, feeling, giving I know I read this trilogy when it first came out, but that was long, long ago in a place far, far away. I had forgotten I loved Mary Stewart's writing. Reading the third book as a stand-alone was easy. I didn't need to know Merlin and Arthur's history to enjoy this book of the last years of Merlin's life as told from his POV. I loved the detail, which to some might be too much, but to me was beautiful. Every sentence it seems, is packed with nuance of color, sound, smell, sight, feeling, giving me a deep sense of place and time. The story moves at a pace that fits the times. People moved and traveled about on foot or by horse or by wagon and though it may seem slow, I was pulled along as if floating on a languid tide. I felt like I was Merlin, observing and experiencing everything through his eyes. Lovely.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bobbie

    July 2018 group read for the Mary Stewart group. I really enjoyed this trilogy but wish I had read them straight through because it is hard for me to decide which I preferred. I did not at first realize that it was so focused on Merlin and had hoped for more on Arthur and Guinevere, but now I am happy that it was focused on Merlin. I see him and the Arthur legend much differently now and I love the way Mary Stewart weaves all the many characters and events together. She was a master. Now, I am r July 2018 group read for the Mary Stewart group. I really enjoyed this trilogy but wish I had read them straight through because it is hard for me to decide which I preferred. I did not at first realize that it was so focused on Merlin and had hoped for more on Arthur and Guinevere, but now I am happy that it was focused on Merlin. I see him and the Arthur legend much differently now and I love the way Mary Stewart weaves all the many characters and events together. She was a master. Now, I am ready to move on to her tale of Mordred, The Wicked Day .

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Not bad. Stewart makes her characters likeable even the baddies. Merlin is telling the story and so he lets you see every side of the story. I think these books were written in the 70's, however they don't seem dated and I really enjoyed my time with them.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Landon

    The third installment of the Arthurian Saga tracks the beginning of Arthur’s reign as king and the ending years of Merlin. The pace is quite different than the first two, and the story is sort of away from most of the action going on in Britain. This is due to the fact that Merlin is our main character, and it is told from his perspective, and Arthur is the one going off and making things happen, and while Arthur tells Merlin what is going on when he comes back, we are no longer there first hand The third installment of the Arthurian Saga tracks the beginning of Arthur’s reign as king and the ending years of Merlin. The pace is quite different than the first two, and the story is sort of away from most of the action going on in Britain. This is due to the fact that Merlin is our main character, and it is told from his perspective, and Arthur is the one going off and making things happen, and while Arthur tells Merlin what is going on when he comes back, we are no longer there first hand like we have been for a few of the battles throughout Merlin’s lifetime. To be quite honest, this makes for the weakest installment of the series. Book III: The End of an Era The tale told within The Last Enchantment is sort of the one that nobody likes to hear, but the reader has to read the book because they simply want to know how the story ends. Stewart is very realistic with the declining of Merlin with age with the fading sense of magic and will to fight. It is sort of like the pro athlete who won’t let the game go. Nobody likes to see their childhood hero take the field and just absolutely shatter his near god-like image in your mind with his talent completely absent in his performance. The main problem is that Stewart doesn’t even try to hide the decline in our protagonist. It is clear that the main plot and storyline seems to go with Arthur if we are interested in the happenings around Britain. Instead, we get to see the near magic-less enchanter Merlin, traveling instead of prophesying, advising instead of seeing. However, since this book follows right after the previous, a little catch-up may be required. Uther took the throne from his brother Ambrosius after his death, and shortly thereafter he conceived Arthur with the Duke of Cornwall’s wife, Ygraine. Arthur is then shipped away to be raised without any knowledge of his heritage. Years later, when Uther’s health begins to fail him, Arthur is summoned to the King’s court at the battlefield against the Saxons. Before the King could tell Arthur who he really was, Arthur helps lead the troops to victory, earning the respect of his fellow soldiers in the process. Uther then names Arthur his heir, before dying at the feast. Characters: Same Old Problems If you have read my previous reviews on this series, then you know that I have an issue with Stewart’s lack of respect to her characters, excluding Merlin. It is quite irritating to develop an admiration towards a character, or even just a liking, to have their end in the book explained in a single simple sentence. Important characters in the past books without a respectful ending include Ambrosius, Ninaine, Golorios, Galapas, and Cador. It wouldn’t be a problem if it was just one. So here we are in the third book of the Arthurian Saga (and final book of the Merlin Trilogy) and Stewart is back to her same character ways. Stewart does a wonderful job of introducing new characters, such as Lot, the king of North Eastern Britain whose loyalty in question. Morgause, Arthur’s sister who tricks Arthur into incest in order to conceive a child with him for her claim to the throne. We are also introduced to Nimue, Merlin’s late life love. The problem is that after the introduction to these people, we are either given a lack of detail or upkeep, or they meet their doom soon after, without any sort of needed conclusion. It clearly shows a flaw in Stewart’s writing style, and therefore a gapping hole in the plot. Plot: A Dreadful Ending So we are whisked away with Merlin, who has seen Arthur raised to the throne, and therefore, fulfilling his own prophecy. So instead of keeping the reader next to the man of power, Merlin decides it’s a good chance to travel to keep an eye of Morgause. How is this relevant? Or, one step further, how is this even interesting? Yes, Morgause is an evil, sorceress wannabe, but Merlin’s part in even doing anything if she tried to do something interesting? Well it’s a good thing I guess that… nothing happens. Merlin, whose magic has left him, instead just goes and watches over Arthur’s sister, and does nothing interesting, nor productive. This is by far the least interesting plot in the series. Yes, there are a few twists that come in at the end, but those are not anywhere near what is needed to make the concluding times of Merlin’s life at all interesting. Stewart takes unformulated ideas that could be made interesting, and makes them boring and bland, all the while ruining the characters that she has built up in over 1000 pages of prose. Recommended For: I have to admit, that I do not recommend this book to anyone, even if you are dying to know the last days of Merlin’s life. To be completely honest, it would be better if the reader was left to wonder Merlin’s part in the reigning time of Arthur, or even if the reader was to look to other stories (as there are many) to find out what happens. The interesting parts of the plots are to see the conception of Arthur and his ability to get on the throne, but all from Merlin’s prospective. This loses its glamour once Merlin is out of the limelight, as there is even a part of this book where not even the general public fears the legend of Merlin, which is the single most interesting part of the 2nd book. Stewart really bombed in her attempt to conclude the life of Merlin, just as she bombed the conclusion of about every character in the series. There is not enough carry over between novels, as it is in the end when those things are most important. If nobody is around from the beginning, it makes the ending nearly meaningless.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    This is my least favorite of the Arthurian Saga.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I had a harder time getting through this book than I did the earlier two books on Merlin. Stewart switches gears in this book, and makes it just on Mordred, the bastard son of ARthur and Morgana who was to become Arthur's bane. The book is very good, and the plot is much better than any I've read on Mordred...he isn't a bad man, he doesn't 'plan' Arthur's demise or to betray his father...it's just that fate and mistakes of man have made it so the two men are destined to destroy one another. In s I had a harder time getting through this book than I did the earlier two books on Merlin. Stewart switches gears in this book, and makes it just on Mordred, the bastard son of ARthur and Morgana who was to become Arthur's bane. The book is very good, and the plot is much better than any I've read on Mordred...he isn't a bad man, he doesn't 'plan' Arthur's demise or to betray his father...it's just that fate and mistakes of man have made it so the two men are destined to destroy one another. In some places the book dragged more than the other two books did, and maybe because it was more 'dark' than the first two books due to the subject matter, it was hard to get as involved in. I missed any information on Merlin either...he just disappeared from the entire story, even though he wasn't dead. Again, this history was great in this book. The time period between the collapse of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages is pretty bare, and this kind of fills in the gaps. There is information about the Celts and those who had taken over in Rome and Byzantine, and their attempts to influence Britain. I enjoyed the book and the story, it just wasn't as good as the first two books in the series...

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Johnston

    Stewart's ability to portray Merlin as a real person makes for delicious reading, but I think her descriptives of simple scenes is what touches me the most. The herbs he smelled, the lighting, the arc of a raven, the ghost of footprints in the frost... All so evocative and effortless. Even though my life has been crazy busy and I haven't been able to read my book a day as in times past (gods, have I ever taken this long to finish a book series?), every time I sat to read this, I fell effortlessl Stewart's ability to portray Merlin as a real person makes for delicious reading, but I think her descriptives of simple scenes is what touches me the most. The herbs he smelled, the lighting, the arc of a raven, the ghost of footprints in the frost... All so evocative and effortless. Even though my life has been crazy busy and I haven't been able to read my book a day as in times past (gods, have I ever taken this long to finish a book series?), every time I sat to read this, I fell effortlessly into where I left off. This last sitting of 75 pages or so hit me as hard as anything, and I'm still tearing up at what I know comes next. Who says you can't go home again? I feel like an idiot waiting so many years to reread this. It's so much better than I remembered.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lori

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It would seem that Mary Stewart practiced her own subtle alchemy while writing The Last Enchantment. She has turned Arthurian Legend into a golden trilogy using some magical writing process that I could almost envy, if I did not admire it so. I highly recommend this book! Stewart's creation will transport you back in time with beautiful prose that is rich in detail. Merlin comes to life and takes you on a wonderful journey you will never forget!

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