The Young Merlin Trilogy: Passager, Hobby, Merlin
by Jane Yolen
A book review by Mark L. Olson
Harcourt, Brace and Co, 1996-97, 76, 90, 91 pp, $15.00
The Young Merlin trilogy is a pleasant set of YA books about Merlin's youth. As a child he is forced to flee his family and live as an 8-year-old feral child until he is befriended by a kindly farmer (Passager). The other two books follow his growth to a 12-year-old as his second family is killed by a fire and he wanders again, falling in first with a traveling (mostly fake) magician and then, fleeing Duke Vortigern, wild people who live in the woods.
I particularly liked Yolen's hints about Merlin's magic at this stage in his life it mainly manifests as dreams which foretell the future, but in a somewhat useless way. The dreams often have a clear message, but the obvious message is rarely the right one. Once the event has happened, however, the dream is seen to have correctly predicted it as Merlin himself notes, they have to be read on the slant.
I find myself wondering if Yolen plans to write more in this series. In the second book, Hobby, Merlin falls in with a fake magician Ambrosius and his assistant Viviane who appears to be the very same woman who many years later is responsible for Merlin's downfall.
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