The Broken Kings (The Merlin Codex, Book 3)

ISBN: 0765311097
ISBN 13: 9780765311092
By: Robert Holdstock

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About this book

Argo, the ancient ship, has returned and hides beneath Urtha's fortress in Alba. Jason and the Argonauts are aboard her, enchanted into sleep. Niiv is still Merlin's lover, still seeking magic and mysteries, still a delight and torment to him. Something is wrong in Alba. An unknown force is affecting the land. The omens are frightening. The feckless Sons of Llew arrive, having stolen their uncle's chariot and horses once again. They bring news of hostels, gateways between the worlds of the living and the dead. An enormous gathering of the Shades, of the dead and the unborn, are being drawn to them. Meanwhile, Kymon and Munda, Urtha's son and daughter, are coming of age. Kymon is angry, boastful, ready to fight the Shades of Heroes, and violently annoyed by his father's diplomacy. Munda, on the other hand, is possessed of the Sight and welcomes the new, strange force in the land. She breaks taboo to visit one of the hostels. She comes back speaking of the Killer of Kings, the son of Jason. And as Merlin walks in and out of time, clinging to his magic and the remains of his youth, the forces set in motion will determine the fate of kings and kingdoms alike.

Reader's Thoughts

Silvio Curtis

This is the last book of the series. The troubles with Ghostland continue, and the search for their cause takes Merlin, Jason, Urtha, Niiv, and Argo on another southward voyage. A fascinating revised version of the myth of Daidalos is involved.This is the most emotionally varied of the books. Unfortunately, the hints of setting and background history stay hints and no more, with just enough revealed to explain the plot. Some of them seem to be references to other books of Holdstock's, so maybe if I read any of them I can find out more.

Holly Lindquist

In the final book of The Merlin Codex, Greek and Celtic myth continue to exist in a kind of vertigo-inducing disharmony. The descriptions are lovely (as they were in the first two books), but the storyline is as elusive as a Will-o-the-wisp.We finally discover who's been causing the kerfuffle in Ghostland, but that revelation only brings up more questions. Why that particular character? Why do I feel like it was randomly plucked from the mythological grab-bag? So, to sum up: Ambiguous mythological allusions float past on a sort of poetic promenade and eventually disappear into the fog of a largely amorphous plot.


The Broken Kings is perhaps Holdstock's most complicated novel so far. Published two years before his death, the novel weaves many of the ideas first explored in earlier novels. The structure of the work itself is labyrinthine, rewarding readers patient enough to follow his storyteller's saga through mythopoesis until it reaches its heart.

Stephen Hampshire

It took me a while to get into this (partly because it's been a while since I read the first two in the series I guess), but when I did I really enjoyed it. Not sure how much sense some of it would make unless you've read Holdstock's other stuff...but you should anyway, so tough!


Finally finished this one off, and while parts of it were just as tedious as the first two in the trilogy, I really liked the ending and that totally made up for the rest of it.

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