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 clichéd 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…