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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

cover of The Merlin Conspiracy

Written in turns by young Roddy (short for Arianrhod) and a teenaged Nick Mallory, this book is a magical romp through the Isle of Blest (a parallel world version of the British Isles with both magic and technology, where the King and his court continually travel around the country, and where the chief magician holds the office of Merlin) along with a variety of other parallel universes, as these young people attempt to fight a magical coup that has nearly all the adults taken in or bespelled. At the same time, Nick & Roddy are (of course) discovering more about themselves and their magical abilities. The story is set in the same multiverse of Jones' novel Deep Secret, and features a few of the same characters (most notably Nick).

The book is clearly written from the point of view of Nick & Roddy, and towards the end the reader discovers that they were actually assigned the task, as a kind of homework, to help them make sense of the extraordinary events they lived through. Their stories intersect more and more as the book goes along, and they trade off telling parts of the story more and more rapidly towards the end, which is really quite fun.

Roddy and her friend Grundo are learning to be magicians in the King's court (of which their parents are members), so they travel everywhere with the King's progress. Almost by accident, they escape drinking ensorceled water and overhear a plot-- but nearly no one will believe them. Along their adventures, they end up traveling with various members of Roddy's family, who are quite interesting relatives in a variety of ways (one grandfather is a Magid, the other is the King of the Dead, and one grandmother is the head of a female-only three-witch household).

Nick, in turn, is really the son of an emperor from another parallel world who chose to give up any claims to the throne and is growing up on our earth, although his deepest desire is to be a Magid and travel the many different worlds. He is accidentally sent traveling through other worlds (for quite a while, he thinks it is a dream because he often daydreams about going to other worlds), and begins to learn some more magic and make some interesting acquaintances. He eventually connects with Roddy and her Magid grandfather, and becomes part of the group that attempts to avert complete disaster as all the magic in the world of Blest (and the many worlds closest to it) is about to come unraveled.

The Merlin Conspiracy is full of interesting lands with wonderful details that bring them to life and make them feel very different from each other and from our own world. The magic and history of Blest is also interestingly brought out-- from such creatures as the little folk, and nearly-invisible magic-enhancing and emotion-loving day creatures all the up to a huge white dragon slumbering under the hillside and an ancient King of Blest who is roughly equivalent to King Arthur in our world. Very enjoyable and plenty to interest, although the story tends to ramble a bit and does not always jump directly to the action that is most interesting at the moment (although this furthers the illusion that the book is written by two teenagers).

Title:The Merlin Conspiracy
Author:Diana Wynne Jones
Date published:2003
Genre:Young Adult Fantasy
Series:Magid multiverse of parallel worlds
Number of pages:468


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