Author Rating: D

Celtika (read 12/15/09) forget about it

This is the first of Holdstock’s Merlin Codex series. The story covers the period before Arthur. Seven hundred years after Jason‘s death, Merlin discovers that Medea had not murdered Jason’s sons but had moved them forward in time. But Jason is not dead, he is still aboard his ship the Argonaut in the bottom of a frozen lake. Merlin rescues him and they set out to find Jason’s sons. It is through this adventure that Merlin first meets Urtha, an ancestor of Arthur, setting the stage for Holdstock’s version of the Arthurian Legend.

I was a bit impatient with the first third of the book but I think that is more my fault than the author’s. I have always found Merlin to be the more interesting character, and Holdstock does a pretty good job of bringing him to life.

The Iron Grail (read 1/18/10) forget about it

Merlin is in Alba (England) and finds Urtha’s stronghold, Taurovinda, has been taken over by ghosts of the dead and not-yet-born while Urtha and Merlin were off avenging the murder of Urtha’s family and to help Jason find his oldest son. Everyone eventually gets back to Taurovinda, the ghosts are cleared out and an expedition is mounted into Ghostland to find Jason’s second son.

The editing could have been much better. There are swaths that are confusing and/or contradictory, and too much that is repetitive. It would have been better had the first two books been combined and the filler left out.

The Broken Kings (read 2/9/10) forget about it

Reality finally came home to roost by page 65 of this, the third book in Holdstock’s “Merlin Coded.” Reading these novels is a complete waste of your time. Endless bullshit that signifies nothing, full of seemingly endless contradiction so that I could take no more and have thrown it over as a bad job.

Holdstock’s Merlin is unengaging, the action so slow and plodding that I couldn’t manage more than three or four pages before passing out.

If you like Arthur/Merlin stories, I highly recommend Peter David‘s very humorous series. Now there’s a “living mythmaker.” Holdstock? Meh.