The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Merlin’s Wood echoes themes from, but is not really a part of, the author’s popular Mythago Cycle, consisting of Mythago Wood (1984), Lavondyss (1988), and The Hollowing (1993). Merlin’s Wood is at its heart an attempt to evoke a “vision of magic” (as the book is subtitled) quite different from standard fantasy fare, based more on a foundation of animism and shamanism than on pseudo-medieval sorcery and enchantment. A variation on a story first told in The Hollowing, where it appeared in much briefer form as the background of the character Arnauld Lacan, it is here expanded into a short novel. Two short stories (“Earth and Stone,” 1980; and “The Silvering,” 1992) that reflect similar themes but are otherwise unrelated to the novel are contained in the same volume.

Martin and his adoptive sister Rebecca grew up near the edges of Broceliande, a forest haunted by an evil buried at its heart and that legend claims is the last resting place of Merlin, the legendary enchanter of King Arthur’s court. At the age of sixteen, fleeing from the shadow that lay over the area, Martin left his home.

As an adult, Martin returns to the village to attend the funeral of his mother. Rebecca returns, too, and the two renew the relationship they had begun as young adults, eventually marrying. Their son Daniel is born shortly thereafter. He is born without the powers of hearing, sight, and...

(The entire section is 508 words.)