Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Enchanted Isle of Fincayra

TA Barron's Map of
The Enchanted Isle of Fincayra

"Fantasy opens the door to experiencing the magic that is in the world around us and more importantly the magic in ourselves. As a genre, fantasy is about moving from our world into the world of experiences beyond. By tapping into those experiences we come to know more about ourselves. ...In pure fantasy, readers on the journey discover truths about themselves and about their connection to humanity." ~ T.A. Barron

TA Barron is one of my favorite children’s fantasy writers. He wrote a series of books on Merlin as a young boy growing up (The Lost Years of Merlin). While most people know of Merlin, the most famous of wizards, there is very little known or written about his youth on the isle of Fincayra (an enchanted isle that lies between earth and sky). This series answers the questions “Where did Merlin come from and what happened to him for him to become this great exalted wizard?” Barron’s fantastical series imagines his youth and learning of magic and the very special way he interacts with the world around him. It addresses how he got his name. My favorite book in the series is The Seven Songs of Merlin (this is the second in the series of five books). Merlin must discover and master the Seven Songs of Wisdom that have been passed down from the great wizard Tuatha.

I’m currently re-reading this for the Cybrarian book review blog. It has a magical way of sweeping you back to days of childhood as you travel with Merlin, seeing him through more vulnerable eyes as he goes through adolescence and learning about the world around him. Barron is in the midst of another Merlin trilogy called Merlin’s Dragon which I am anxiously waiting delivery of my first installment.

With the numerous books dealing with Merlin, it is refreshing to see a different viewpoint, his early years.

As writers the question remains, how do we keep stories fresh – go beyond the normal storylines to keep the unique? Face it, there are clich├ęd storylines in virtually every genre – romance, fantasy, mystery…what do you do to have your book stand apart from the rest? Perhaps you use a different viewpoint as Barron did. Perhaps it is a unique and engaging character that sets your book ahead of others in the genre. What is that special X factor the reader looks for and, more importantly, how do we deliver?

Just a thought…


Charlotte Phillips said...


Perhaps it's my eyes, but I had a very hard time finding the comment link. When I finally spotted it and saw no one else had commented, I thought perhaps others had the same difficulty?

The series on young Merlin sounds facinating.

I think we keep stories fresh by creating engaging characters and placing then in interesting situations.


N A Sharpe said...

I'm not sure, I was getting comment regularly till yesterday and the numbers plunged. Not sure what is different or how to adjust.

Thank you for continuing to look and find it though - I appreciate it!

I really like the young Merlin series - it is quite fresh because the Merlin we are familiar with is significantly older. To have someone write his story as an adocescent I think was brilliant, particularly since it is done so well.

I wonder which readers prefer: character driven stories or plot driven? Hmmmm, something to think about.

Thanks for stopping by Charlotte!


Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama said...

The comment link is a little small for tired eyes, but I think it is fine.

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