Much has been written about Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood and its importance to, and influence upon, modern fantasy (which will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog!). Rightly so, as it is a genuine modern classic, but it would be a mistake to regard the Ryhope Wood sequence as his only major contribution to the field, because between 2001 and 2006, Holdstock produced an audacious blend of Arthurian legend and Greek mythology with his acclaimed Merlin Codex.
Beginning with our current New Book of the Week, Celtika (2001), and moving through 2002’s The Iron Grail to conclude with The Broken Kings (2006), the Merlin Codex sees the titular enchanter much younger than we are used to seeing him in the time of Camelot. Moving through the classical world of Jason (of the Argonauts fame), his wife Medea, jealously guarding his gift as every act of magic shortens his life, Merlin weaves his plots across the centuries, showing us echoes of the man and the stories we know from Arthurian legend.
It is a remarkable piece of work, and one that deserves to stand free of the not inconsiderable shadow of Ryhope Wood. But don’t just take our word for it . . .
‘Highly recommended’ Interzone
‘A complex, intelligent fantasy’ SFX
‘A fascinating start to a highly original series’ Starburst
‘Quite simply, one of the books of the year’ Infinity Plus
‘What lifts Holdstock’s trilogy far above most other fantasy creations is his skill at recreating myth and investing its stock figures with startling reality, emotion and motivation. The Merlin Codex will add to his already considerable reputation as a master fantasist.’ Guardian
‘He is a compelling myth-maker, creating new legends, heroes and villains, new wonders to wake our dormant sense of wonder. The Broken Kings is simply magical.’ The Times