Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Am I Reading for My 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge?

I regret to say that I was disappointed with Mary Stewart's The Prince and the Pilgrim. Her mix of legend and history just didn't mesh well for me, among other things that just didn't "click" for me personally. (Although it did stir up my interest in learning more about the Merovingian kings of the Franks.) All of which surprised me, because I remembered how much I had loved her Merlin Trilogy, especially The Crystal Cave. I loved the Crystal Cave so much that I read it at least twice between Junior High and High School, and again while I was in college. But after reading The Prince and the Pilgrim, I began to doubt my memories. Had the Crystal Cave really been written in a similar style to The Prince and the Pilgrim, and if so, had I simply been too young at the time to find it similarly lacking? There was, of course, only one way to find out. After a lapse of over 20 years, it was time to pull out The Crystal Cave and read it again!

And so, I have begun my fourth reading of The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart, for my 2010 New/Old reading challenge. (The above is the cover on my ancient edition. It's not the same cover you'll find on the book today.) I am only 48 pages in (although the print is very small for my now aging eyes), but already my confidence in my former opinion has been reassured. Perhaps because I read this book at such a young age, the protagonist became, and has remained for all these years, the "definitive" Merlin of Arthurian legend to me. As I sink into prose and memory, I am once again with an old friend. To my mind and heart, The Crystal Cave will always remain a true classic.

Note: One reader on Goodreads said she'd heard (or read?) that The Prince and the Pilgrim was written by Mary Stewart before she became a published author. If that is the case, it might go a long way towards explaining the amateurish feel of the book for me. Heaven help me if anyone ever decides to pull out any of my "early novels" and publish them!

Back cover blurb:

Who was Merlin?

Was the famed magician of Camelot and King Arthur's court really a sinister, all-powerful being from another wold? Was he truly a Prince of Darkness?

Or was he a man with the loves and passions of other mortals? A man with unique intelligence and unusual gifts?

Why was he so feared? How did he come by his occult powers? Why was the crystal cave so important to him?

Mary Stewart's novel brings to vibrant life one of the world's greatest legends and sheds a fascinating new light on the turbulence and mystery of 5th-century Britain.

With its length and small print, this is likely to be a multiple Tuesday Teaser read for me. Stop by next Tuesday to get your first peek!

If you'd like to join my 2010 New/Old Reading Challenge, its not too late! Click here and here for more information. And remember, there are prizes involved if you join us! :-) 


Martha Eskuchen said...

Oh Joyce! Mary Stewart was my very first experience with romance! The Moonspinners, Airs Above Ground and yes, The Crystal Cave! I have to go into my high school box of books and see which Mary Stewart I have there.
Your blog is looking lovely!

Joyce DiPastena said...

Thanks, Martha! Happy hunting. I hope you find your old romance friends. :-)