The Last Enchantment is the third book of Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy and follows on from ‘The Crystal Cave’ and ‘The Hollow Hills’. The Trilogy tells the story of King Arthur (and Merlin of course) from Merlin’s point of view. The fourth book in Mary Stewart’s Arthurian Saga is ‘The Wicked Day’ which tells Mordred’s story.
This book is much less focused on Arthur. Arthur goes off and fights wars, wins them all, unites Great Britain and drives the Saxons into their defined territories. The real focus is Merlin’s and Arthur’s dedication and love for each other and Merlin’s acts to keep Arthur safe.
This starts with Merlin’s dealing with Arthur’s half-sister Morgause. At the end of ‘The Hollow Hills’ Morgause had an incestuous relationship with Arthur before he knew his parentage. This resulted in a son – Mordred, who Merlin has prophesized will cause Arthur’s death. Merlin and Morgause are bitter enemies forever after and Morgause poisons Merlin, robbing him of much of his strength.
Merlin also blesses Arthur’s marriage to Guenivere, rescues her when she is later abducted and watches on as things get a bit too cosy between Guenivere and Bedwyr (Lancelot).
Eventually Merlin meets Ninian and takes on an apprentice to follow in his footsteps once he is no longer able to be the High King’s enchanter.
I enjoyed this trilogy so much that I was sorry to get to the end of this book. It has been around for more than 30 years now, but is a classic that will continue to be read. The books can each be read as a stand-alone novel, but I think they are best read as a trilogy and lead almost seamlessly from one to the next.
My next step is to complete the Arthurian Saga with Mordred’s story – ‘The Wicked Day’.
Book Published 1979