This is an engrossing fantasy novel that sets up the series well. While the characters are a bit bland at times, what really makes this novel come alive is the beautifully descriptive setting. Robert Treskillard paints a vivid picture in your mind with his skilful writing.
Twilight descended as he rowed. The stars appeared, but they refused to reflect off the turgid water. The moon raised its leprous head through the trees, casting anxious shadows on the reeds that rattled against the boat.
While the plot was slow-paced, it gave plenty of time to get to know Merlin. If the other characters fell flat it was because Merlin outshone them all. You feel his struggle as he goes about trying to have an ordinary life despite being half-blind, and then his pain as his friends and family are deceived by an evil magic stone. Merlin is able to use his blindness to his advantage as he sets out to destroy the stone. His selfless, caring nature, as well his bravery, are his greatest strengths and the qualities I find most admirable about him. Even through his darkest moments, he is always looking to help others, and I found Merlin to be a wise and inspiring character to look up to as you share his journey.
I like how Merlin deals with his disability and the emphasis on how it does not define you. Merlin is teased and mocked for his blindness, and the large scars that cover his face. However he and those closest to him know that it’s what’s on the inside that matters. This is something that can be easily forgotten in our world of media and fame, where the bigger and more beautiful the better. It’s the simple things, like love and faith, which really count.