Sunday, July 16, 2006

A Dream of Eagles: The Sorcerer Review

With the conclussion of The Sorcerer, the Dream of Eagles comes to a close, and I can honestly say that I've completed one of if not the most engaging novel series I have ever read; it's that good.

It should be noted that The Sorcerer is split into two volumes, The Fort at River's Bend and Metamorphosis. Jack Whyte, the series' author, originally intended The Sorcerer to be published in its entirety, however the publisher disagreed, and for this reason The Fort at River's Bend ends rather abruptly. Because both volumes of The Sorcerer are really one book, I decided to wait and finish both volumes and review them as one complete piece.

At the end of The Saxon Shore, Merlyn had fled north to Ravenglass with his young charge, Arthur Pendragon, to safeguard him from further assassination attempts. There, Merlyn seeks the aid of the man who killed both Arthur's father and mother, King Derek, and an understanding forms between these two great men, and the desire to see a dream fulfilled.

Much changes in The Sorcerer as Arthur grows up and begins approaching the destiny that will see him become the High King of all Britain and ultimately, in order to do what he must, Merlyn must set aside his sword and become the sorcerer that many have whispered him to be.

The Sorcerer ultimately takes a very dark turn as war once more begins to ravage Britain, and as with the rest of the series, it is all very character driven. The main perspective is, of course, Merlyn's, as ultimately this is Merlyn's tale, his hopes, dreams, and fears in the Arthurian legend.

Thus, in the end, when Merlyn does what he needs to and becomes what he must, you can't help but feel bad for him, to know that he embraced such darkness willingly to achieve that which was the greater good.

The Sorcerer will make you think and empathize as it is filled with what everyone dreams of: Purpose, love, hope, and adventure, all wrapped up in a realistic version of the legend that is everlasting. It is a beautiful rendition of such a unique period in Britain's history, and the fact that Whyte puts aside the fantasy and takes a factual approach is such a nice perspective as to be as gripping as it is refreshing.

The only shortcoming in The Sorcerer would be that it is simply too short, and there is one important thing that happens to Merlyn that, to me, wasn't explained thoroughly enough. However, that is a minor complaint for such an engrossing series.

If you've been reading A Dream of Eagles, then you know what I'm talking about, and you already know if you're going to pick up The Sorcerer or not. If you haven't begun reading the series and you have an interest in historical fiction, in military tactics and evolution, and in Rome and its effects on the world, then you should not miss this literary masterpiece.

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