(Cover picture courtesy of T. A. Barron’s website.)
Young Merlin has freed Fincayra—the enchanted isle between earth and sky—from the terrible blight, taking the first steps on a path to discover the power within him. But the mystical land is still in danger and his true trials are just beginning…
To save his ailing mother, Merlin must master the Seven Songs of Wisdom passed down from his grandfather, a legendary wizard. Only then can he journey to the spiritual Otherworld to obtain the elixir he needs. But the quest involves a task Merlin must perform—defeating a vile ogre whose merest gaze means death. And even more difficult for the young wizard, he must discover the secret of seeing not with his eyes but with his heart…
After saving Fincayra in the first book, you would think poor Merlin would get a break and be able to safely bring his mother, Branwen (whose real name is Elen), back to him. Alas, the evil Rhita Gawr had other plans for the boy. When an illness strikes his mother down, Merlin must master the Seven Songs of Wisdom to save her. Did I mention that this requires him to travel all over Fincayra? And in only one month?
The Seven Songs of Merlin is a wonderful fantasy book by T. A. Barron, who has put quite a bit of effort into developing the magical world of Fincayra. He takes Celtic mythology and blends it with more familiar fantasy elements to create this wonderfully written, thought-provoking novel. It is T. A. Barron who first introduced me to the concept of hubris, the ancient word for too much pride. Alas, hubris is something that I suffer from, which makes me sympathize with Merlin even more. But regardless of whether you have hubris or not, I guarantee that you will find Merlin a very sympathetic character.
In addition to wonderful characterization and exemplary world building, the plot moves along very nicely. By nature of the time limit imposed upon Merlin, this is sort of a no-brainer and Barron brings a sense of immediacy to his writing throughout the entire novel. If you’re not already a T. A. Barron fan, you will be by the time you finish this novel.
I give this book 5/5 stars.