Gr 6 Up-With a full complement of mythical creatures and a race-against-death quest, The Seven Songs of Merlin (Philomel, 1997) continues T.A. Barron's youthful saga of the legendary wizard. Here, 13-year-old Merlin ignores warnings and sets aside the task of renewing the blighted land of Fincayra so he can bring his mother back to her homeland. Only minutes after the two are reunited, she is struck down by a deathshadow sent by his old nemesis, Rhita Gawr. That means Merlin and his companions, forest friend Rhia and a comically dour jester called Bumbelwy, have only the four phases of the moon to unravel the secrets of the seven songs that will help him save his mother. Mixing ingenuity and courage, the trio manages to overcome overwhelming odds and grow in wisdom. There's a satisfying conclusion with hints of the next volume of Barron's epic. Narrator Kevin Isola does a superb job of bringing to life both human and mystical characters. Even the wind and a tiny, talking shell are distinctive and memorable. Sound quality is solid, and the cover and cassettes are sturdy and well marked. Fantasy fans and Arthurian legend-lovers will be drawn to The Seven Songs of Merlin, and they'll be joined by listeners who like adventure spiced with spirit and humor. An attractive addition for both school and public library collections.-Barbara Wysocki, Cora J. Belden Library, Rocky Hill, CT Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Picking up where The Merlin Effect left off, this patchy tale opens when young Merlin is summoned by the Great Council of Fincayra to heal their wounded land. The boy decides instead to follow his own wishes, with disastrous consequences: a deadly curse on his mother. In order to save her, he must learn the Seven Songs of Wizardry, and his desperate quest leads him and companion Rhia on a whirlwind tour of the magical isle. His pursuit of the Seven Songs leads to seven individual adventures with some interesting brushes with characters and objects from the Arthurian mythos (i.e., a sword that will be Excalibur and the temptress-to-be Nimue). However, each adventure boils down to a lesson and Merlin's recitation of such noble clichés as "The strongest bonds are of the heart," and "Everything is connected to everything else." Except for some unexpected developments and encounters with characters from the first book, this Round Table-inspired tale may not do enough to pique readers' interest, especially avid Arthurian legend fans. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)