A ship sits at the bottom of a north European lake in winter screaming. Merlin hears the screaming and travels to the frigid winter place to raise the ship. This is how the mythic fantasy trilogy by Robert Holdstock called the “Merlin Codex” begins. The series is a fascinating blend of Greek, Celtic and Arthurian mythology with interesting characters and a gritty, memorable plot. Mr. Holdstock provides another intriguing addition to the mythic fantasy sub-genre.
Celtika is the first book introducing readers to an ancient Europe of Celtic tribes before the rise of Rome. Merlin is a traveller on a long path in life. He has magic and has lived a long time. In his travels, he has met important people like Jason from the golden fleece Greek myth. After many years, Merlin travels to a northern European lake where he raises the ship Argo from the depths and revives Jason. Merlin begins a quest with Jason to find Jason’s missing sons. The quest involves travel with interesting characters through strange lands on the living ship Argo. Merlin meets Urtha from Alba, which sets up the next book. The mystery of Jason’s oldest son is resolved by book’s end. Readers will have a satisfying experience and be eager for the next book in the trilogy.
The second book, The Iron Grail, begins with Merlin emerging from hiding on Alba. He encounters the Fates who tell him four people are looking for him. Merlin moves through this story encountering the prophesied people while helping Urtha restore his kingdom and helping Jason find his second son. More details of the story are told in a gritty dark presentation of a Britain with an active supernatural influence. Mr. Holdstock furthers the story of Merlin in the second book and his dealings with Jason, Medea and the ship Argo as Merlin grows on his long journey.
In The Broken Kings, the final book of the series, Merlin must solve the problem of why the Ghostlands are expanding into Urtha’s kingdom. This book focuses on Merlin’s character while Jason fades mostly into the background. The ship Argo still plays a role in helping Merlin with the problem. A journey to Crete and other strange places occurs in their travels a Merlin helps Urtha save his kingdom and children, setting the sage for the future King Arthur. The book brings the series to a fulfilling close.
The “Merlin Codex” trilogy by Robert Holdstock is a fascinating mythic fantasy. Mr. Holdstock’s use of Arthurian, Celtic and Greek mythology mixed together brings a transformed ancient world to life. Following his character Merlin through this world and his trials provides readers with a dark, compelling adventure that resonates on many levels. Readers will find a thought provoking, entertaining journey through the series.