Elitist Classic: The Crystal Cave

Posted: January 21, 2014 by in Elitist Classics Meta: Mary Stewart, Fantasy, Elitist University

The first book of Mary Stewart’s Merlin trilogy, THE CRYSTAL CAVE (Amazon), was written in 1970 and continues to be one of the most accessible novelizations of the mythos surrounding the Arthurian legends. Told in first-person PoV as though it were an autobiography, Stewart writes about Merlin’s childhood as he travels across Britain, the people he encounters, and the discovery of his magic–all in her lovely prose with detailed attention to the landscape and era.

I first read this series when I was in middle school and have read it several times since, including the two Arthur-focused books after the Merlin trilogy. The quality of the writing and storytelling hasn’t diminished with age, likely because of the care Stewart took to research her subject and the locales.

The books are still in print and are available in even small libraries due to their popularity. If you’re trying to introduce friends to fantasy, this is a benign first step.

THE CRYSTAL CAVE was ahead of its time when Mary Stewart decided to tell the Arthurian Legend from the point of view of Merlin.

  • Recommended Age: 10+
  • Language: None
  • Violence: Some, but Stewart often glosses over battles so they lack detail
  • Sex: Vague references

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