cover image Merlin's Blade

Merlin's Blade

Robert Treskillard. Zondervan, $9.99 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-310-73507-6

Making his debut, Treskillard delivers a sweeping, deeply detailed fantasy that re-imagines the adven-tures of figures from Arthurian legend in a battle between "new" Christian ideology and the ancient rites of the druids. In his fifth-century British village, Merlin, a nearly blind teenager and son of a blacksmith, quickly emerges as the empathetic and courageous hero following the teachings of Jesu. Merlin is the only one who can resist the temptations and mystical enchantments that emanate from a glowing stone%E2%80%94part of a "Dragon Star" that had crashed in flames to Earth; he desperately encourages others to reject the stone's evil and take up his path under God's protection. A toddler King Arthur and the famous sword Excalibur are thrilling elements of the tale for fans of the genre. The author skillful-ly crafts intense action scenes and vivid settings. But the book's length, large cast of characters, and period vernacular tend to slow the pacing in places and may prove a challenge for some younger read-ers less keen about comprehensive detail. Those who follow Merlin to book's end, however, are re-warded by hints at what's to come in the sequel in the Merlin's Spiral series. Ages 13-up. Agent: Les Stobbe, Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency (Apr.)