The Iron Grail (The Merlin Codex, Book 2)

ISBN: 0765349876
ISBN 13: 9780765349873
By: Robert Holdstock

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About this book

After long travels, Merlin has returned to Alba, the future England. Likewise, Urtha, High King of the Cornovidi, is coming home as well. And Jason is sailing in on the Argo, to seek his son who hides somewhere in the kingdom.But Urtha's stronghold has been taken by warriors from Ghostland. They claim it as their own. Now there will be war--against the Otherworld.In this sequel to Celtika, myth and history weave together into a tale of honor, death, and magic. At the core of the story is Merlin himself, the enchanter in the prime of his life, reckless, curious, powerful, yet a stranger to his own past--a past that is catching up with him.

Reader's Thoughts


It helps if you've read his Mythago Wood books and if you are familiar with some of the ancient Greek lit. Often confusing, but still interesting.

Holly Lindquist

From the back of the book: "Holdstock seamlessly blends myth and history into a fabulous tale of Merlin, hundreds of years before the coming of Arthur."I can say without compunction that it is indeed a fabulous tale, wonderfully imaginative, pure poetry in places, but seamless? Nope. The blend of Greek, Celtic, and other myths just does not work. Too many events seem to occur inexplicably. I couldn't immerse myself in the world because there were two many places where the narrative seemed to wander off into a sort of mist. A beautifully-imagined mist, of course, but one that just didn't coalesce into a satisfying story.

Silvio Curtis

It's no longer as clear as in the first book whether to call Jason Merlin's friend or Medea his enemy, but he is still as involved as ever in their lives. Furthermore, he feels a responsibility to help the Celtic king Urtha, who is being attacked by an army of ghosts and unborn men for uncertain reasons. Another major character is the Pohjoli (that seems to be ancient Finnish) enchantress, Niiv. She seems fairly stereotypical, a rash, power-hungry and seductive witch, but it's unclear how much of that is her real characterization and how much is Merlin's paranoia.The constantly aggressive attitude of most of the characters sometimes gets wearing, though the amount of actual violence described is small in proportion. I find the most rewarding parts of this series to be the descriptions of magic, which convey an otherworldly feeling even while they have more understatement than hyperbole to them.

Serge Pierro

This is the sequel to the first book in the series, Celtika. Holdstock continues his tale in admirable fashion. Fans of his previous works will not be disappointed.

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