CSFF Blog Tour – Merlin’s Shadow, Day 1

Sandys,_Frederick_-_Morgan_le_FayRobert Treskillard‘s Merlin’s Shadow, book 2 of the Merlin’s Spiral trilogy is this month’s CSFF feature. Personally I’m quite happy about this because it is in these short days of winter that I so often have a craving for epic fantasy. Merlin’s Shadow has been the perfect remedy.

In the first installment of the series, Merlin is a blind son of the local blacksmith, hardly the wizard we associate as King Arthur’s close adviser. In Merlin’s Shadow, however, some of the pieces of the well-known Arthurian legend begin to fall in place.

Merlin’s Blade already introduced readers to the mysterious Lady of the Lake and to the sword Excalibur and showed the connection to Arthur.

In book 2, readers learn how Merlin became the target of his great enemy and Arthur’s nemesis, Morgana, also known as Morgan le Fey. In Treskillard’s imaginary take on the story, Merlin has a younger sister who he tries to care for and protect. In fact, he lost his eyesight in an attempt to save her from a pack of wolves.

But all changed at the end of Merlin’s Blade, including Merlin’s blindness and his ability to watch over his sister. Left to her grief and the wiles of her druid grandfather, little Ganieda discovers a connection with an ancient dark power.

What do the legends say of Morgana? Of all the characters connected to the Arthurian legend, she seems to have the most checkered reputation. Until more recently she was known as the offspring of a fairy or a demon and a human; an enchantress; the ruler and patroness of an area of Britain; a close relative of King Arthur.

Her traits reportedly resemble those of many supernatural women in Welsh and Irish tradition. She’s often associated with the supernatural ability to heal but also with various promiscuous relationships. One legend has Lady Guinevere expelling her from the court because of her “string of lovers.”

The stereotypical image of Morgan is often that of a villainess: usually a seductive, megalomaniacal sorceress who wishes to overthrow Arthur (from “Morgan le Fey”).

More recently, however, she’s been re-imaged by feminists as an example of feminine strength and spirituality in line with the beliefs of the ancient Celtic people.

Certainly her development in Treskillard’s The Merlin Spiral trilogy is one of the intriguing story threads. She plays an integral part in Merlin’s Shadow as an antagonist but also is a sympathetic figure at times, a wayward child in need of a guide.

In essence, Merlin chooses to care for and guard Arthur instead of Merlin’s sister. How different would these fictitious events have been if Merlin had chosen otherwise? It’s interesting to consider.

In addition to Morgana, Merlin’s Shadow also brings us the beginning of the Knights who would form the heart of King Arthur’s court–those of his famous Round Table. Piece by piece, Treskillard’s story is setting up the traditional Arthurian tale.

The CSFF tour is well underway and those participating have much to say about this outstanding addition to the lore of King Arthur. Click on the links below to read their thoughts.

(Check marks link directly to a blog tour post).

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12 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed your take on the book, it made a lot of sense to me. I’m really enjoying participating in this blog tour after taking a long break from it.

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    • It’s good to have you back, Nissa. I love tours like this that really look at issues and elements of the genre or the legend or even the writing. I think it brings out how much there is in a story because different participants see things I missed and vice versa. Love it! 😀

      Becky

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  2. Becky,

    Morgana is a very important topic as the legend goes, and I know I’ve muddled things up somewhat, but then, the original legends are a bit confusing.

    There are actually three Arthurian women: Morgana, Morgause, and Ganieda:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgan_le_Fay
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morgause
    http://www.timelessmyths.com/arthurian/women.html#Ganieda

    Morgause and Morgana, in legend, are both sisters of Arthur, and, interesting to note, Morgause is the one more often depicted as the evil one. Being the mother of Mordred, she joins in the rebellion against Arthur.

    Also, Morgana is the one who takes Arthur to be healed on the isle of Avalon!

    In even earlier legends, Morgause is called Anna, Orcades, or Morcades.

    Ganieda is depicted in Welsh legend as Merlin’s sister, which I have kept. However, that “Gan” in her name caught my eye with its similarity to Morgana, and so I morphed Morgana and Ganieda into one and the same entity.

    Supporting that decision was Morgause’s earlier name of Anna. Thus my “Gana” came to have flesh and blood.

    In doing so, I removed Morgana from being Arthur’s sister, which also fit my timeline better.

    But wait! There is one of my characters who so far has been overlooked: Myrgwen! She is Arthur’s sister and takes on the role of the better traits given to Morgana in legend. I won’t say more, but there is a mystery here in the Merlin Spiral trilogy that will sort itself out in due time.

    Thanks for starting the discussion, and also for all your work managing the tour!

    -Robert

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    • Thanks for amplifying on this character and how you determined what direction you would take her. Interesting stuff, Robert. I’m so happy to have your story take a place among the others in the Arthurian collection.

      Becky

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  3. Yeah! Loved this article and the extra tidbit of information in the comments…I’m already formulating an idea of Morgana… 🙂

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    • Also, I just have to mention about Merlin’s sister, I don’t think she would have changed if Merlin had stayed behind to protect her and take care of her. She had exhibited indifference and hate toward him through the first book, perpetuated by her mother. I think if she hadn’t learned the truth about Merlin’s provisions, she might have stayed with the weavers and later learned truth and might have forgiven Merlin then. Still seeds have been planted, and it will be interesting to see where Treskillard takes the series in the future…especially after his comment. Eek! Good stuff. 🙂

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  4. On a side note…what are the check marks for next to the blogger’s name? I believe you mentioned them before and something we were supposed to do, but I don’t remember. Ack!

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  5. Love your phrasing here: “But all changed at the end of Merlin’s Blade, including Merlin’s blindness and his ability to watch over his sister.” Merlin is less able to “watch over” his sister when he can see. There are echoes of that idea in his fight with the Picti bard after the failed escape. Merlin fights better after the bard temporarily “blinds” Merlin with some sand. We also see this theme play out when Merlin gets a good look at his scars and decides that Natalenya cannot possibly love him.

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  6. […] that’s not enough to keep you busy, see the entire list of participants at the end of the CSFF Blog Tour – Merlin’s Shadow, Day 1 […]

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  7. […] author of Merlin’s Blade and Merlin’s Shadow. To learn more about his works, visit the blog tour, or his profiles on Goodreads and […]

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  8. […] ever, there’s plenty more on the tour, stop off at Becky Miller’s blog for direct links to every post on the […]

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  9. […] had fun exploring Morgana and the Knights of the Round Table as part of the CSFF Blog Tour for Robert Treskillard‘s […]

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