I recently read Taliesin by Stephen Lawhead. It was the first book I finished this year. Taliesin, in the Celtic mythology, was Merlin’s father. The book tells the story of his birth and of the lady Charis, princess of the lost island of Atlantis. Here’s the summary from Amazon:
While the druids of the Isle of the Mighty predict the coming of one whose song will change the world, a young priestess in Atlantis foresees the destruction of her homeland. The love story of the bard Taliesin and the Princess Charis begins a new series for Lawhead (“The Empyrion Saga” and the “Dragon King Trilogy”). This graceful combination of Atlantean legend, Celtic myth, and Christian message reminiscent of C.S. Lewis is highly recommended. JC
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It sounded romantic to me and it’s about Merlin’s parent’s. What could be bad about it? (spoiler alert: the rest of this review contains excerpts from the book and potential spoilers)
It wasn’t all bad, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Charis is anywhere from seven to ten years old when the book starts (it isn’t made clear) and Taliesin is found in the river as a babe and adopted by a Celtic king. The majority of the book goes back and forth between Taliesin and Charis. Charis has the ability to see into the future. Taliesin is trained to be a druid king (a bard, who can see into the future). Charis goes and dances with bulls for the god Bel. Taliesin continues his training. It goes back and forth until the third part of the book, when they finally meet.
Charis and most of her family made it off Atlantis before it sunk and they have settled in Britain. Taliesin and his father have brought there tribe away from the war of the savages (who are driving the Romans out). The love story is quick. He sees her and is intrigued. He follows her to a pool and calls her the “Lady of the Lake.”
The book was good and I enjoyed the storyline, Taliesin’s particularly. Charis seemed really whiny most of the book, up till she marries Taliesin. He grows into a wise and loving man and it is he who recognizes that Christ is the one true God. I liked his character immensely.
Though both characters face adversaries and trials; the character of Morgana is introduced to the series. Merlin is born as well, and the meaning of the name explained. However, as mentioned above, this was not the book I was expecting. I wasn’t expecting Christianity to be so explicitly intertwined with plot. THe book is advertised as a romance and so I expected it to play out like one, but the book really was about two people, their lives, and it touches on the point where they met. It’s setting the stage for the rest of the series; for Arthur and Merlin to enter. I wasn’t expecting the Atlantis angle either. Merlin is then a descendent of Atlantis, and I really like that idea.
Also, I enjoyed that Taliesin, after he recognizes Christ as the true God, continues in his own traditions. He was a magician and a seer, and he tells other druids that he no longer goes to the place where he can see the future, but many of the rituals stay the same and I can only assume that Merlin learns many of them. I’m excited to read the next book in the series, Merlin.