Daily Archives: November 8, 2011
I adore the Arthurian legends and love stories that have Merlin and King Arthur in them. No matter the setting or plot, if it has something to do with the Arthurian legends then I’ll at least give it a chance. Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela F. Service is the second book in her New Magic Series. It’s set two years after the end of the first book, The Winter of Magic’s Return. At the end of The Winter of Magic’s Return we saw Earl Bedwas regain his memories as Merlin and locate the entrance to Avalon, where King Arthur was sleeping. Now we find that Arthur and his friends have carved out a new kingdom from the post-apocalyptic landscape, Cumbria. (Cumbria is a county in North West England, just below the border with Scotland.)
In this world, humans have destroyed almost all life with nuclear weapons. But, the only nuclear weapon to be dropped in the United Kingdom was on London and human life was able to survive. (You know, this story takes place a great deal farther north than I thought would be feasible during a nuclear winter. The damage to the Earth’s ecosystem is just starting to repair itself in the story but it’s still very cold. The characters venture into Wales, which is a bit farther south, but still higher up than I would think would be possible, temperature wise.)
News of King Arthur’s, the real King Arthur’s, return has spread and the shires that once fought each other are now banding together under Arthur’s guidance. But Arthur is put to the test when a queen from the north descends upon him, a fiery redhead calling herself the Queen of Scots. Merlin is struggling to get a handle on this world’s new magic, unable to get his old powers to fully work. Morgan Le Fay is still lurking, gathering an army of mutants and horrible creatures from the land of Faerie, in the south and Merlin needs all the help he can get to fight her.
Surprisingly, Arthur doesn’t play a big part in this book even if the first book had been all about finding him. He’s there, doing kingly things in the background, but there is very little focus on him. Our main characters still remain Merlin and his two companions, Heather and Welly. Trapped under a mountain by Morgan for thousands of years, Merlin struggles in the post-apocalyptic world to find his footing and tap into this new world’s different magic. At the same time, he deals with the loneliness that has always pledged him. Even in this new world, being a powerful magic user separates him from other people, who avoid him out of fear and ignorance. Merlin’s heart was what Morgan had used to trap him before and it may be his downfall again.
The two original characters, Heather and Welly, act as our eyes in this book. Welly doesn’t get up to much. He kind of blends into the background and joins Arthur’s circle, realizing his dream of being a military strategist. Heather and Merlin are the focus of this book. Of course, Heather’s connection with animals is expanded into true magic, an ability that Heather is not so certain she wants. She is pulled in so many directions that she does not know what to do. The young girl sees Merlin’s isolation from other people and is wary of ending up like the sorcerer. Merlin, meanwhile, is trying to convince his heart that he does not need friends. Merlin’s loneliness is almost painful to see, especially as Heather and Welly wax and wane toward him.
Kyle, a tertiary character, is only there to give Heather doubts and be a complete butthead. He is my least favorite character. My second least favorite character is Queen Margaret, the Queen of Scots, who is there to replace Guinevere as Arthur’s love interest. (Although, it’s better than just having Guinevere return. In fact, except for Merlin, Morgan, and Arthur none of the legend characters return.) Just at the end, Heather and Merlin come together as a couple. This comes out of nowhere. Since Heather is all of fourteen here and constantly harping on friendship, to have Heather and Merlin suddenly lock lips threw me for a loop. I’m not sure it was really needed and it kind of upset the whole vibe.
Pamela Service’s writing is good but not fantastic. The second book in the series is just a good as the first, meaning both end up being okay. Both books share a slow start and things don’t really start happening until the latter half. I think I read the New Magic Series mostly because of my obsession with anything Arthurian but someone else might find the books lackluster. The copy of the book I have has a funny cover. Morgan Le Fay is described as beautiful woman in the story but the woman they have on the cover has huge teeth and deep wrinkles. I can only assume that the boy is supposed to be Merlin, which is so weird it’s funny.