The lost years of Merlin

Author Barron, T. A.
Language English
Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers $5.99., 2002


A young boy who has no identity nor memory of his past washes ashore on the coast of Wales and finds his true name after a series of fantastic adventures.

Subjects :

  • Juvenile fiction
  • Wizards
  • Fiction
  • Merlin (Legendary character)
  • Fantasy

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Best Books :

  • YALSA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults, 2003 American Library Association
  • Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Thirteenth Edition, 1997 National Council of Teachers of English
  • Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 H.W. Wilson
  • Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 H.W. Wilson
  • Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 H.W. Wilson
  • Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 H.W. Wilson
  • School Library Journal: Best Books for Young Adults, 1996 Cahners
  • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 1997 American Library Association

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Awards, Honors & Prizes :

  • Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2001 Honor Book Massachusetts

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State & Provincial Reading List :

  • Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award, 2000; Nominee Colorado
  • Georgia Children's Literature Awards, 2000; Nominee Georgia
  • Lone Star Reading List, 1998-1999; Texas
  • Massachusetts Children's Book Award, 2001; Nominee Massachusetts
  • South Carolina Young Adult Book Award, 1999; Nominee South Carolina

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Reading Measurement Programs:

Ace Books (New York:) 1999.

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Accelerated Reader Points 19

9780399230189, 0399230181
Philomel Books (New York:) 1996.

Accelerated Reader
Interest Level Middle Grade
Book Level 5.1
Accelerated Reader Points 12

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.

Lexile Measure 770
Accelerated Reader Points

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Interest Level 6-8
Reading Level 5
Accelerated Reader Points 19

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Reviews :

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Readers may find this attempt to create a biography for Merlin less of an organic novel than a showcase for the author's deft recycling of Welsh myth, said PW. Ages 9-12. (Oct.)
(PUBLISHER: Ace Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: [1999] c1996.)

Ann Ritchie (Audiofile, April/May 2001)
In this first book of T.A. Barron's trilogy, a young boy, washed ashore and nearly dead, embarks on a quest to solve the mysteries of his true name and where he spent his earliest years. The imagery of water and waves, the powers of nature and the past, and the strength of tradition all cycle through this gripping story. With his Second Sight, Emrys explores the mythical land of Fincayra and discovers the Lost Treasures. Through Michael Cumpsty's skillful narration, the many characters of the saga are distinctly and vividly portrayed. While it can be difficult to imagine Emrys as a 12-year-old boy, Cumpsty delightfully gives voice to Shim, the small giant; the Grand Elusa , an all-knowing white spider; Stangmar, the dreaded ruler of the Shrouded Castle; Rhia, the leaf-covered and loyal companion; and Branwen, the sorrowful healer and mother. Listen and be wonderously transported to the mist-covered land of the ancients! A.R. (c) AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine Unabridged. 2000 (orig. 1996), Listening Library, Six cassettes, 9.75 hrs., Retail pak, $30.00.
(PUBLISHER: Listening Library, PUBLISHED: 2000.)

Sarah Beasley (Children's Literature)
T.A. Barron asked the question, "What was the great Merlin like as a child?" and from that sprang this first book of a five-book series that explores the answer. The author has created a world rich in characters and settings, which allows young Merlin to begin his journey to great power. As the novel opens, a boy without a name, without a home, and without a memory is determined to find all three. Emrys, as he calls himself, discovers that he possesses a magical power stronger than himself. When he uses this power for hate, he suffers by losing his eyesight. He soon discovers that he has a second sight that allows him to see in a different way. Because he is determined to continue his quest to find the three things he desires, Emrys goes to the land of Fincayra, an island thought to exist only in myth. There Emrys finds some answers and a purpose to his quest. This book is wonderful because the conflict facing Emrys is not only from outside forces but also from within. The plot line is convoluted, detailed, and gripping. This is a great read-aloud book for late elementary and middle school students. 2002 (orig. 1999), Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $5.99. Ages 10 to 14.
(PUBLISHER: Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers $5.99., PUBLISHED: 2002 (orig. 1999))

Sally Estes (Booklist, Sept. 1, 1996 (Vol. 93, No. 1))
This is the first volume in a planned trilogy about Merlin's youth, an area generally ignored in traditional Merlin lore. Barron has certainly come up with an intriguing perspective of what he calls Merlin's lost years, as told by the future wizard himself. A boy, hurled on the rocks by the sea, regains consciousness unable to remember anything--not his parents, not his own name. He is sure that the secretive Branwen is not his mother, despite her claims, and that Emrys is not his real name. The two soon find themselves feared because of Branwen's healing abilities and Emrys' growing powers, and when they are attacked, Emrys strikes out, causing an inferno that blinds him when he plunges into the fire to rescue his antagonist. Branwen and Emrys are taken in by nuns, and as Emrys despairs and heals, he discovers yet another talent--that of second sight--which enables him to embark on a quest to find his true name and heritage. His journey leads him back across the sea to the isle of Fincayra, a mysterious land "not of the Earth, nor of the Otherworld." There he joins forces with the forest girl Rhia and the heroic little giant Shim to battle the evil Rhita Gawr, whose blight is destroying the isle. Barron has created not only a magical land populated by remarkable beings but also a completely magical tale, filled with ancient Celtic and Druidic lore, that will enchant readers. Category: Older Readers. 1996, Putnam/Philomel, $19.95. Gr. 7-10.
(PUBLISHER: Philomel Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1996.)

Judy Silverman (Children's Literature)
This book traces the legendary wizard's life from the moment he finds himself washed up on a beach with no memory of his past. He's even lost his name. He's picked up by Branwen, who wants him to believe he's her child. He finds his way to the magical island of Fincayr, where his powers are tested. By hard work and great good fortune, he finds all that was lost. This is a good read for older children and adults who haven't given up the magic of Arthurian legends, and a great read-aloud for younger kids. 1996, Philomel, $19.95. Ages 9 up.
(PUBLISHER: Philomel Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1996.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1996)
Barton (The Merlin Effect, 1994, etc.) transforms the early years of the mythical wizard's life into a vivid, action-filled fantasy, replete with deep forests, ruined castles, and evil spells: a promising first installment of a projected trilogy. Although Emrys, 12-year-old son of Branwen, has fantastic powers, he is also a charismatic and sympathetic character; many readers will no doubt empathize with his self-pity, awkwardness, and the tense relationship he shares with his mother, a witch. But Barron never forgets his hero's destiny, and so when Emrys defends his mother from the flames of an angry mob by telekinetically burning the town bully, he leaps into the fire to save the boy and loses his own eyesight. Recovering in an abbey from his burns, Emrys develops second sight, vows to never again use his powers in anger, and sets out to learn his destiny. Along the way, he meets Rhia, who is brave, intelligent, and resourceful, and who enlists his aid in the war that forms the final steps toward adulthood that Emrys--now Merlin--takes. While Barton is careful to show that Merlin is still physically a boy, readers are left with a vision of a more confident, compassionate hero, prepared to confront the joys and sorrows that await him in future volumes. 1996, Philomel, $19.95. © 1996 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Philomel Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1996.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this coming-of-age fantasy, Barron (The Merlin Effect) investigates what he perceives as the mystery of the great enchanter's little-mentioned childhood and adolescence. Merlin himself narrates, at first in realistic mode as a child called Emrys in a grubby village in Wales, where he had washed ashore five years earlier; he is haunted by his inability to remember his earlier life. After some misadventures when his supernatural powers develop, he decides to set about "finding my past, my identity." Somehow he makes his way across the ocean to Fincayra, a strange place not quite of this world. There he gets drawn into a great conflict between good and evil, and the story mutates into a high fantasy quest populated by weird and mythic creatures. This part of the tale draws heavily on the Welsh Mabinogion; some of Merlin's adventures thus resemble Taran's in Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, which also uses that body of legend. Merlin learns of his Fincayran birthright, but in the clumsily handled conclusion he looks off into the future (and to the planned sequel), having decided that although he has found his past and his identity he has not found his "true home." Some readers--mostly teens or adults--will be looking eagerly with him. Others may find this attempt to create a biography for Merlin less of an organic novel than a showcase for the author's deft recycling of Welsh myth. Ages 8-up. (Sept.)
(PUBLISHER: Philomel Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1996.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
Philomel Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers $5.99., 2002

Media Type:

Listening Library, 2000

Media Type: Nonmusical Sound Recording
6 sound cassettes
Sound cassette.
Read by Michael Cumpsty.
New York: Ace Books, 1999

Media Type: Language Material
xiv 284 p.:
PZ7.B27567 ([Fic])
Originally published New York: Philomel Books c1996.
New York: Philomel Books, 1996

Media Type: Language Material
326 p.:
PZ7.B27567 ([Fic])

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