WARNING-This is only the first part of a 3-part book.

Stewart, Mary. Merlin: The Crystal Cave. New York: William Morrow and Company,
Inc., 1980. 294 pp.
Mary Stewart is one of the most popular novelists writing today. She is a lecturer at the
college where she got her M.A. and B.A., Durham university. She had 15 books published,
and all of them became popular. Although it is accurate, she wrote it merely because she was
so fascinated, not because she was paid to write a textbook.
The Crystal Cave is a novel, a scholarly narrative, and the first book in her Merlin
trilogy. This book covers the period of Merlin's life from when he is six years old, up to when
he is in his twenties. She says her sourses were a ?semi-mythological, romantic account written
in Oxford by a twelfth-century Welshman,?(312) and Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the
Kings of Britain.
In the author's note at the end of the book she explains that the time period of Merlin,
the 470's, was ?as dark a period of Britain's history as we have.?(312) Her goal was to make
the book as accurate as possible. According to the author's note, most of the names and a little
of the dialogue were accurate, but the rest is just educated speculations. There is little written
about Merlin, so it is hard to tell if the story is truly accurate or not, and there is also a possibility
that he never existed in the first place.
In the beginning of the story, the king's brother, Camlach, had just died, leaving no one
to take the throne if the king dies. Merlin is the next in line after his uncle had died, being the
bastard son of the king's daughter. No one seemed to like this idea, Merlin isn't legitimate for
one, and he would never have been a good soldier anyway.
On a horse ride, he finds a cave and goes in for a closer look. The man who was living
there, Galapas, sees the bats fly out and goes to see why. Merlin hears him coming and hides in
a crevice hidden in shadows, but the man finds him quickly. Galapas is a doctor who works in
the town, and he convinces Merlin to be take some lessons from him.
Galapas becomes Merlin's best friend, and he sneaks out for his lesson whenever he
can. Galapas showed him something special about the crevice he hid in. He takes a candle in
there, and Merlin sees that it is lined with crystals. He tells him to sit inside and fall asleep.
While he is sleeping he has a vision of slaves mining in a cave with a large pool of water in the
When Merlin is on a trip with his grandfather, he finds the cave. He is lead to it by a
bird, a merlin, that was chasing a smaller bird, and when the merlin catches up to it, they fall in
the brush near the mouth of the cave. He and his servant go in, but the mine had been
abandoned years ago, but it was definitely the one. He still didn't know why he had been
brought there.
Later in the story, Merlin returns from Galapas's cave to find that his grandfather is
dead. Merlin's servant had spilled lamp oil on the stone steps, and his grandfather slipped on it,
and broke his neck. The king's men quickly murdered the servant, and then all hell breaks
loose. Merlin finds his dead friend, grabs all the valuables he can carry, and breaks the lamp,
now filled, starting a fire, and runs away.
Some spies from the enemy king, Ambrosius, kidnap Merlin, not knowing who he was,
or what he had just done. They take him to their king, where he is treated better than he had
ever been at home.
He had another vision of a man killing a white bull with a dagger. When he meets the
king, Merlin thinks that Ambrosius was that man. The king later explains that what he had seen
was the myth of the man that was the first king of his family. The king realized that Merlin can
be of great use to him as a wizard.
Ambrosius later tells Merlin that he is his son. Merlin realizes that the clues were always
right under his nose. His mother had named him Merlin Emyrs, which is really just a short form
of Ambrosius.