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Publisher's Summary

It was a time of legend, the last shadows of the mighty Roman conqueror faded from the captured Isle of Britain. While, across a vast sea, bloody war shattered a peace that had flourished for 2,000 years in the doomed kingdom of Atlantis.

This is the remarkable adventure of Charis, the courageous princess from Atlantis who escapes the terrible devastation of her land, and of the fabled seer and druid prince Taliesin, singer at the dawn of the age. It is a story of an incomparable love that joins two astonishing worlds amid the fires of chaos, and spawns the miracles of Merlin, and Arthur the king!

This is the first book of The Pendragon Cycle.

©1987 Stephen R. Lawhead (P)1995 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Highly recommended... Reminiscent of C.S. Lewis." ( Library Journal)
"A fine storyteller, he brings the Arthurian characters to life without sacrificing any of the haunting pleasures of the legends." ( Omaha World Herald)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Great story at a very slow pace.

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the legends of Merlin and King Arthur. This story provides an incredible amount of background for Merlin. My only complaint is that the story moves at a very slow pace.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Taliesin?

One of the most memorable moments in Taliesin is when Taliesin is converted to Christianity. This was surprising in a book about the father of Merlin. In other Arthurian books, Merlin is always portrayed as one who is dedicated to the Druids and the Old Religion, but Lawhead puts Taliesin and later Merlin in the roles of helping Christianity flourish in the British Isles.

Which scene was your favorite?

One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Taliesin prophesys of the great accomplishments the will be done by his newly born son, Merlin.

Do you think Taliesin needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

This book is a great lead-in to the next book in the Pendragon cycle, Merlin. I highly recommend starting this series by reading Taliesin. It provides a lot of the background and motivation for characters in the next book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • John
  • Albuquerque, NM, USA
  • 03-16-13

Wonderful story! Excellent narrator!

What made the experience of listening to Taliesin the most enjoyable?

Lawhead's spins a great story. You can truly imagine imagine the settings in your minds eye with his rich prose. He develops each character well. I found myself looking forward to my long walks just to be able to listen to the story unwind.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Charis. At times tough as iron, at times soft and sensitive. Nadia May's voice was perfect for her character.

What does Wanda McCaddon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Narrated by Nadia May, not Wanda McCaddon. Nadia was perfect for this story. Her accents for each character were perfect. Amazaing how she was able to keep the voice for each character throughout the whole story.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

The ending was tragic. But it set up the next book in the series well.

Any additional comments?

I heartily recommend this audible book. Listen. You won't be disappointed.

  • Overall


What a wonderful beautiful book, I was sorry to have it end. Such beauty, faith, love and adventure still burn in my heart from it.

  • Overall

good story

I really enjoyed this "back story" of the Arthurian legend. Less political/ethnic slant than so many retellings that try to make the legend "relevant." The people give the story heart and make the story relevant, just the way the people have always made the legend relevant.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

5 star book, 1 star narrator

I'm a huge fan of Lawhead books and Taliesin in particular. But, this audible version of Taliesin is hard to listen to (having read the book so many times) because of the narrator. She has an English accent, but for some reason gives the Briton characters an Indian/Hispanic sound. Any time a Magi (and many other characters) speaks, she draws out each word for fiiivvveee seconnnddddssss. And, there's hardly any variation in voice between different characters. I haven't heard the narrator for the rest of the books in the series, but my suggestion is to read this great book and skip the audio. I hope the rest of the books get a better reading.

  • Overall
  • Eric
  • San Leandro, CA, USA
  • 01-24-08

Good story

This is a very good story with A bit of Magic and Reality. The Story of the Rise of Britons Greatest Bard. Can get a bit long winded for short periods but was always enjoyable to read.

  • Overall

The worst series ever

This book is (and all the other books in the series are) absolutely awful. They are plodding and boring. There is no intricacy or cleverness of plot. Everything happens sequentially and more or less predictably. The prose is repetitive and unimaginative. On average Lawhead uses the word "thrust" 762 times per battle (and there are many battles).

The books glorify the Christian faith to an extent that you feel that you are reading propaganda. Oddly enough the religious descriptions lack detail and depth.

The character of Morgian (sp?) is constantly built up to be evil, but the source, nature and extent of her power is never explained to the reader. Consequently her actions in the books seem more or less random. Moreover she is always beaten very easily, which fact severely undermines her ability to lend any tension at all to the plot. (Tension? What's that?) When she and Merlin finally have their big confrontation it happens offstage. We find out that Merlin is ok, before he relates the story--which, again, sort of eliminates any TENSION the episode might have promised. When he does offer a description of the confrontation, it once again lacks detail, depth, imagination and coherence.

The books are full of anachronisms and do not display an understanding of, or even interest in, the period in which they are set.

The reading of the first book is tolerable, but the others are irritating. The overall tone used for the narrator is hauty. The reader consistantly makes odd choices about which word in each sentence he should emphasize. It gives one the sense that the reader is profoundly bored by his task--for which I don't blame him.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Good Story, but Hard on the Ears

As other reviewers found, I thought the narrator was an unpleasant listen. However, I've wanted to 'read' the Pendragon books. I'm glad I did, because the story is good! The characters are well developed, and realistic. It always takes me a while to properly place the characters in their settings when two branches of the story are developed in parallel (a common way of writing novels), but it worked well in this story.
In short, I recommend this story. Once you get past the relatively flat narration, the characters take over, and talk to you directly.

  • Overall

the book I couldn't finish

++-- love historical novels but I was unable to finish this one due to its slow pace. I also feel the the narator read too slowly thus adding to the long drawn out tediouness of this book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Listen to the sample first

The book sounds interesting from the description, but I couldn't listen to it because the narrator's voice grated on my ears so badly. Imagine an elderly English woman with a high-pitched, nasal voice and affected upper-class accent who sounds like her corset's too tight and you get the picture.

9 of 19 people found this review helpful