I’ve been thinking vaguely of rereading this one soon, and rereading my review has convinced me of it! A fun note I’m not sure I knew when I wrote this–the author Peter Dickinson was married to Robin McKinley, a long-time favorite author of mine. I love connections like that!
There’s an old legend that Merlin never died–that he’s imprisoned beneath a stone somewhere on the moor, sleeping through the centuries. And while he sleeps, what might he dream?
This is the frame-story for Peter Dickinson’s wonderful book, Merlin Dreams. He tells eight stories, eight dreams of Merlin beneath his stone. Between each story Merlin half-wakes, remembers his life or senses what goes on above him, then drifts back into sleep…and has another dream.
I’m fascinated by the frame story, and the short stories are excellent too. Several have a vaguely Arthurian flare, although I don’t think any retell an actual legend. But there are dashing (and not so dashing) knights, brave damsels and many unexpected heroes. There’s a king, fallen from honor and strength who needs a little girl to show him the way back. Another little girl befriends a unicorn in the woods, only to be threatened by men who want to exploit the opportunity to hunt a unicorn. Two stories feature tricksters who put on shows for country folk they hold in contempt, only to be undone by their own tricks. There’s a young prince who fights a dragon, and another, particularly ugly young man, who fights a sorceress. And woven throughout, Merlin remembers his own life, and strange fragments of other scenes and stories. Continue reading “Classic Review: Merlin Dreams”