NESFA Members' Reviews

PassagarThe 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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