I’ve been waiting for Merlin’s Nightmare to come out since I read the first two books in Robert Treskillard’s Merlin Spiral (Blade and Shadow). Merlin’s Nightmare is the conclusion to this trilogy, and it matches the other books well. Whether or not it rounds out the story is another matter, but Nightmare is still a great book — good enough that I devoured almost the whole thing in one four-hour sitting.
Nightmare throws us into medieval Britain for a third time, tracking the adventures of the soon-to-be man Arthur, and his father Merlin. Throughout the book, the two battle to save Britain from human and magical foes, but the kingdom continues to grow weaker. Arthur, newly-proclaimed High King, fights to be king over his kingdom as the Saxons press closer and Morgana, Merlin’s sister, begins to exact her revenge. Britain totters on the brink of destruction and she and her king battle for survival.
This book is set far ahead of Merlin’s Shadow. Merlin is grow and married, with two children and his adopted son, Arthur. Arthur is a headstrong 18-year-old, reckless and anxious to prove himself a man. That’s a far cry from the previous book, and it’s a tough transition. By the end of the book, Treskillard had saved his characters and I was back into them, but it took a while.
This transition made the whole book feel like a long set-up for the next book in Treskillard’s series. Even the ending, rather than closing out a long trilogy, foreshadows the next trilogy of books. The characters all end up alive, but little was accomplished. Arthur’s growth into a high-king of Britain (such that remains) is the closest thing to a unified plot for the book, but it just makes the whole book feel like a length windup for the Pendragon Spiral.
It’s not such a bad book, though. Treskillard’s characters are the best parts of his book, and we get to see a lot of them in Nightmare. Even so, they lack the same snap that Treskillard wrote with in book 2. That book featured strife between Merlin and Natalenya that felt so real, and in comparison, this book didn’t hit the same level of great dialogue.
I have conflicted feelings about Merlin’s Nightmare. I finished it in a few hours, and can’t wait to read the next series. But I finished the book without feeling the story advance, which makes me leery of diving into the next three — maybe they will be just as drawn out! All told, Merlin’s Nightmare is an okay, if unsatisfying, end to the trilogy. Here’s hoping the next trilogy will be as good as Merlin’s Shadow.
Published on 9 June, 2014. Last updated on