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The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart (1973)

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This second entry in Stewart's Arthurian series picks up the story in more familiar territory. In many ways, when you put down The Crystal Cave and pick up The Hollow Hills, it is simply a straight continuation. This covers from the birth or Arthur to his becoming king. All the seeds are sown for the politics behind the continuing story, including Mordred. What is different in this book is the focus on Merlin -- where he goes, what he does while Arthur is growing up. There are different takes on iconic objects -- the sword in the stone is quite different, but so logical, for example.

If you enjoy Arthurian literature and haven't read this series, you really should. I think you'll love it. ( )
  Jean_Sexton | Apr 2, 2016 |
This novel covers the time from when Arthur Pendragon was conceived to when he was crowned a king.

In this version, Merlin's father is Aurelius Ambrosius, the Roman war leader, Uther Pendragon's brother, making Merlin Arthur's cousin. Merlin is depicted as twenty-two years old at the beginning of the book, which opens on the morning after the conception of Arthur. This conception has taken place as a result, not of illusion or shape-changing as in the legends (and as Merlin would like people to believe), but of ordinary human disguise and misdirection. Duchess Ygraine is said to have known who she was mating with and whose son she bears from the moment Uther came to her. Merlin goes into hiding, to avoid trouble. He learns that Uther wishes the child to be hidden, until another (legitimate) son is born.

In later chapters, Merlin travels from one place to another, arranging for the upbringing of Arthur. He gives the child first to his own nurse Moravik, who after some years sends the boy to Count Ector of Galava to be trained as a man. Merlin sets off for Constantinople, accompanied by a small retinue of servants. In Constantinople, he learns from his host Adhjan that Magnus Maximus (also known as Macsen Wledig) possessed an especially beautiful and well-made sword, which was taken back to Britain after Macsen Wledig's death. Inspired by a dream which he believes to be prophetic, Merlin returns to the North in search of this sword.

In Britain, Merlin finds the sword in a deserted temple or chapel, hidden beside a Greek drinking-vessel. He takes only the sword.

In order to hide from overly curious people, Merlin becomes a hermit in an obscure shrine, providing healing to the injured and advice to the insecure. He commits himself to no religion, but "allows" whatever god is willing to receive the offerings at the shrine.

Later, Merlin becomes Arthur's tutor and that of two other boys, those being Arthur's foster-brother Cei and his friend Bedwyr. Out on a ride, Arthur discovers the sword of Macsen -- his ancestor and Merlin's -- hidden in a cave on an island in the center of a lake. With it, he fights his first battle and proves his right to succeed Uther as High King before all of the assembled kings and chieftains.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Book two of three of Mary Stewart's Arthurian legend. It picks up exactly where the previous book left off, as if you had merely turned the page and begun a new chapter. In this installment Merlin awaits the birth of Arthur, accompanies the baby to its place of hiding for the first four years, and Merlin then journeys north to convince a loyal lord to secretly house and raise the royal "bastard" until he is 14 and old enough to fight. Meanwhile, Merlin 'disappears' by going to the Mediterranean and traveling for 7 years so he can retun to Arthur as a teacher. A very satisfying read. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Jan 30, 2016 |
2nd book in the Merlin trilogy - _The Crystal Cave_ being #1, _The Last Enchantment_ bringing up the rear. Stewart has created a lovely Arhurian history of how Merlin influenced everything that happened. A unique perspective. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/11868374
  JosieRivers | Dec 28, 2014 |
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To the memory of my father
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There was a lark singing somewhere high above.
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To remember love after long sleep; to turn again to poetry after a year in the market place, or to youth after resignation to drowsy and stiffening age; to remember what once you though life could hold, after telling over with muddied and calculating fingers what it has offered; this is music, made after long silence.
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Book description
The Hollow Hills takes place in a fifth-century Britain fraught with superstition and fear, where no life is safe, no law is stable, and where a king risks accusations of murder and adultery to get himself an heir. For his own safety, the boy Arthur, rejected as a bastard by his father, is long kept ignorant of his parentage.
Dangerous rides through the deep forests of england and Wales, sudden battles amidst brooding mountains, and retreats into secret hollows in the hills provide the background for this tale of Arthur's growth in to manhood and his discovery of the strange sword that was to test his claim to power.
Behind and around Arthur always is the mysterious, strong, yet vulnerable figure of Merlin, who sees and knows so much but who, like Arthur, must also suffer for the sake of a nation being born. IN this world of embattled kings and courtiers, hurried journeys, whispered anxieties, and sudden death, we watch Merlin and Arthur follow their common destiny.

Merlin is the narrator, and his prophetic voice communicates not only the bristling atmosphere of the ancient setting but also the profound relevance of this age-old tale to our own time.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060548266, Paperback)

Keeping watch over the young Arthur Pendragon, the prince and prophet Merlin Ambrosius is haunted by dreams of the magical sword Caliburn, which has been hidden for centuries. When Uther Pendragon is killed in battle, the time of destiny is at hand, and Arthur must claim the fabled sword to become the true High King of Britain.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:32 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Spell-binding and powerfully realised portrayal of the young King Arthur from his birth to accession to the throne of Britain..

(summary from another edition)

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