Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks

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Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Fun and enjoyable book taking characters from the Arthurian legends and recasting them. Here, Guinevere is a sorcerer! Perfect for reading together or for reading alone.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 158 Date: March 2015
Publisher: CreateSpace
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1505689740

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Merlin is both ordinary and special. He is living a quiet, ordinary life with his father in his quiet, ordinary village. Murrow is a fisherman and he and his son have a great relationship, supportive and loving. So far, so ordinary, right? But Merlin isn't like the other boys. While they are raucous and social, Merlin is quiet and contemplative. His best friend isn't another boy; it's Happenstance, his cat. Murrow and Merlin might not realise it but the reader will - there's something special about Merlin.

And then, one day, a sorceress comes to the village. She has strange, hooded attendants with blue skin and a beautiful ship that skims the waves. The villagers don't know quite what to make of her and regard her with a mixture of awe, fear and respect. Her name is Guinevere.

The next morning, Happenstance starts behaving strangely. He leads Merlin out of his home and his village and into a peculiar darkness in which balls of light appear. Following the path the lights describe, Happenstance takes Merlin to meet Guinevere. She is looking for a special person to become her assistant.

And that's where the adventures begin.

Oh, I thought Merlin and Guinevere was a delightful story. I love Arthurian tales and am always on the lookout for interesting new angles on the myths and legends. And Shanks has a new angle here - I've never read another Arthurian story in which Guinevere is the source of Merlin's magic. If you're hoping to meet Arthur himself, you'll have to wait. This story takes place when Merlin is just a boy so it is a kind of prequel, if you like. What you will get is adventure and magic in spades.

There's a lot to enjoy in this story, not just the original angle it takes. Merlin is a relatable and charming character. He's naive but aware of his inexperience. He wants to learn. And he's brave, too. You really root for him as he works his way through Guinevere's challenges and tries to prove himself as a worthy apprentice. Happenstance is a really cool magical familiar - and isn't Happenstance just a great name?! - and I loved the way he starts out as a trusted friend for Merlin, who has no idea a magical component to their relationship is about to develop.

The story is easy to read, in large, well-spaced type with a good balance between accessibility and vocabulary-stretching. Merlin and Guinevere could easily be read alone by a newly confident reader but it would be just as enjoyable read aloud and shared. It's also lively and energetic and fun. There are more adventures on the way and, going by this first story, that's a jolly good thing.

One of our favourite Arthurian stories is the classic The Sword in the Stone by T H White. There's also Waking Merlin by Tanya Landman.

Buy Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Merlin and Guinevere: A Happenstance Meeting: Volume 1 by R D Shanks at Amazon.com.


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