Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess, Myrdden Emrys - or as he would later be known, Merlin - leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man's-son, taking him from prophesying before High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon, and the conception of Arthur, king for once and always.
©2016 Mary Stewart (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Timeless, enthralling, mesmerizing.
The Crystal Cave tells the story of Merlin unlike any other version. Mary Stewart brings Merlin to life in a way that is not just magical and mystical, making them real-life figures in a way that other Merlin tales have not been able to do.
Excellent narrator who drew me into a story that I am extremely familiar with. I first read this book in 1972 and have reread it more times than I can remember. I've been waiting for the audible version for decades and was thrilled that Perkins narration did not detract from the voice of Merlin that has been in my head for over 40 years.
I am anxiously awaiting the second and third books in this series for a complete telling of the story! Please bring on The Hollow Hills and The Last Enchantment.
Genre fiction, trashy to literary--mystery, action, sci fi, fantasy, and, yes, even romance. Also history. Listener reviews help a lot!
“The Crystal Cave” is the first and best of Mary Stewart’s classic trilogy that recasts the Arthurian legend from the point of view of Merlin. In these books, Merlin Emrys--the first-person narrator of this and the second book, "The Hollow Hills"--is not the shape-shifting wizard of “Camelot” and “The Once and Future King,” but a small (even rather weak) mortal boy, the bastard grandson of a minor Welsh king. But he does have certain paranormal gifts, notably "the Sight."
Merlin's gifts are augmented with guidance from Galapas, a hermit who guards the secrets of the Crystal Cave, an ancient shrine hidden in the hills. Immensely curious, he also studies healing arts and engineering sciences, and is eager to learn all he can of different gods and religions. By the end of the book, the young man Merlin has made use of his knowledge and gifts in ways that would certainly render him magical to his contemporaries.
Set in 5th century Britain and Normandy (Less Britain in those days), this terrific novel is neither romance (despite the brief opening scene) nor fantasy (despite Merlin's gifts of fire and prophecy) nor historical fiction (despite the presence of some historical figures such as Vortigern and Hengist). This is Britain in the 5th century AD; the Romans have left, Christianity is trying to consolidate its foothold, and the land is besieged by the Norse and the Saxons. It is a unique story that melds legend and mysticism with history as it very well could have been.
The characters, even the minor ones, are heartrendingly real. Merlin and Aurelius Ambrosius are magnificent. Derek Perkins, a narrator I’ve always enjoyed, outdoes himself. It's a rendition I didn’t want to stop listening to. Like other reviewers, I’ve been hoping to see these books come to Audible for a long time, and I’m grateful Mr. Perkins agreed to perform this one. I hope he does “The Hollow Hills” and “The Last Enchantment” as well.
"The Crystal Cave" ends with the famous story of Merlin contriving to allow Uther (who is now High King of Britain) to satisfy his obsessive passion for the married Ygraine--thus leading to the conception of Arthur. This book is an immensely satisfying read (or listen) by itself, although you'll probably want to go on to "The Hollow Hills" and meet the young Arthur.
Some listeners may object that there are few female characters, and those that do appear are much in the background, but that is not really a flaw; it is both true to the period and (as you'll understand if you listen to it) intrinsic to the story as Mary Stewart tells it. It might be seen as the flip side to the feminist "The Mists of Avalon," but "The Crystal Cave" (with apologies to "Mist's" many fans) is the better book.
Mesmerizing, beautiful adventure!
Merlin's most intense meeting with Ambrosias was so packed with emotion I had to listen three times.
His voice lends magic and pulls back the curtain on a time and people long passed. He is now a favorite narrator, alongside Donada Peters and Davina Porter. I will be looking for his other works, and pray that he continues with this saga. He deserves more than five stars as a wizard of the spoken word!
Oh yes! I listen to audio books when going to sleep. This is so enthralling I have to turn it off to get to sleep. I also listen while driving long trips, and may listen to this again in the car.
I read all of Mary Stewart's books when first published, but that was many decades ago, and it is just lovely to rediscover her mastery, especially in Audible format! I remember The Moon Spinners as a favorite among her many stories, and would love to see other books from other eras, such as the excellent recording of Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White.
Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!
My husband and I have long been admirers of the King Arthur sagas - by Jack Whyte, Bernard Cornwell, and Marian Zimmer Bradley among others. We were so pleased to see Mary Stewart's interpretation come to Audible in unabridged form.
And she stands tall with the best of the Arthurian storytellers! Hadn't read "The Crystal Cave" in years, so we weren't quite sure what to expect but ended up eagerly listening to this during a couple of long car trips.
More recent versions such as those by Whyte and Cornwell (which we also very much enjoyed) have a more modern, curse and violent style, and we found "The Crystal Cave" to be lyrical and refreshing. Stewart's writing is so good and her vision so imaginative that the settings (including the crystal cave of the title) truly come to life, and the characters are beautifully realized. Merlin is presented as both a real and understandable man and as a mysterious, otherworldly creation. We have happily started the newly-available, unabridged "Hollow Hills."
Derek Perkins proves to be a perfect narrator for this material. So pleased to confirm that Mary Stewart's version of this classic tale has stood the test of time! If you are at all interested in King Arthur and Merlin, invest in this!
I read this book as a child, and have long wanted to listen to it. Derek Perkins -- who I first heard reading Martha Well's "The Element of Fire"-- is a great choice as a narrator for this title, too: good timing and timbre, no weird pronunciations, well-paced.
I've always loved this series by Mary Stewart and I have been waiting anxiously for an unabridged version. (Please tell me the other 3 books are coming.) This books gives the most detailed, fleshed out history and character of Merlin I have ever encountered.
I also love The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Merlin appears in that novel as the Merlin we know, expect and love. The Crystal Cave is an account of how Merlin became Merlin. It's a great story which enriches any other concept of Merlin we may encounter.
I wasn't familiar with the narrator before this book. He does a great job.
Yes. But alas, it's too long for that.
I really hope that Derek Perkins will finish this incredible series which wonderfully recounts the rest of the Arthurian Legend. UNabridged, please!
This story and the two that follow are among the finest stories ever told. When I first joined audible 13 years ago I requested this many times. I wrote emails, I sent letters, I researched rights holders. Eventually they wore me down and I gave up. But look! Here it is. I can't write anymore, I need to go visit the cave. Thanks to whoever released this .
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