Have you ever thought about how people's lives intertwine? You can have two complete strangers, living completely different lives, and for a moment their paths might cross, perhaps in a restaurant or on a bus, and just for a while their lives tell the same story. Then they might go their separate ways again - or not.
There are two stories here. They seem to run side by side, but eventually, almost at the very end, you suddenly discover that they are really the same story, approached from different points.
There's Roddy, who is the daughter of a Court Wizard, and has travelled with the King's Progress all her life. She lives in the Isles of Blest which are like, but not like, the British Isles. There's a lot of magic in Blest, and the Court Wizard appointed to keep the magic healthy is known as the Merlin. So, it's quite a big event when the Merlin dies suddenly in the middle of a ritual. It's big enough to overshadow any squabbling between Roddy and her mother about whether a life on the road with the King's Progress is a proper sort of life for a growing girl.
No-one seems terribly impressed with the new Merlin:
The young man clasped his hands together with his arms pointing straight down, rather as if he were pulling on a rope, and he began to sway, round and round. The bonfire seemed to imitate him. It broke into long pennants of orange flame that roared and crackled and sent a great spiral of smoke and burning blobs high into the evening sky. The extra light caught and glistened on tears pouring down the Merlin's small, pointed face. He started to give out big gulping sobs.
'Oh, Lord! He's a weeper!' Grandad said disgustedly. 'I wish I'd known. I'd have stayed away'.
'A lot of the Merlins have cried when they prophesied', Dad pointed out.
I know. But I don't have to like it, do I?' Grandad retorted.
But Roddy is shocked to the core when she discovers the Merlin is implicated in a plot to bespell the King and all the Court. This is high treason!
Well, Roddy, and her dear friend Grundo, are going to need some help to sort this one out. They appear to be the only members of the Court not affected by the spell. It's fortunate, perhaps, that Blest is not the only world out there in the multiverse ...
Meet Nick. That's Nichothodes Koryfoides, but you can call him Nick Mallory. He lives more or less on planet earth. He has an interesting past, but we're not really let into the secret of it in this book. Nick is gifted. He has strong magic, but he needs to learn to use it and he is mad keen to travel between the worlds, which he knows are out there. Actually, he's better at doing it accidentally rather than on purpose. Doesn't sound as though he's quite the right person to help Roddy solve the Merlin Conspiracy, does he?
You'll see ...
Strong magic, convoluted plot, and plenty of it! If you enjoy a longer book, like the later Harry Potters, I think you'll love this one. Highly recommended!
fattah, boy, age 15, from selangor, Malaysia, on 2nd July 2007. Rating:
it is the most interesting book i have read. it is a little bit confusing but hey, every diana wj books are confusing.
Deborah, girl, age 13, from Alicante, Spain, on 2nd August 2005. Rating: 9/10
This book is brilliant!It isn't the kind of novel that you read like a fantasy, even if it happens between a few very different worlds and there's witches and warlocks and other creatures of the kind,you feel that the only bissness is saving the worlds from the conspiracy. Loads of action and packed of humor.
[Anonymous], girl, age 15, from Manchester, United Kingdom, on 29th March 2005. Rating: 7/10
Well to start Ill just say that I put my reading to older reader purely for the fact that (1) I read a lot of different types of aged books. From authors like J.K Rowling, J.R.R Tolkien, Terry Pratchett, Barbara Hambly, Steven King, Phillip Pullman, Roger Zelazny, Anna McCaffrey and most recently Dan brown. (Ill stop there because there loads more but Id be going on forever, and Im not selling any books for them either so I dont need to say more :) ) And (2), because I dont know what youd call older 20s 30 50s or people who read older books, who knows? My thoughts on the book are that, well its a brilliant book. I like fast paced books that seem to have a different plot at every turn and twist, dip that in magic, call it a fantasy and, well, Im there. I did get the book when it came out but it has been nagging at me for months to read it again and I only just past this site looking for more books Diana Wynne Jones has written. I also like the way that although its not true its got the sense of being, like it could really be true. I also like that in an author, it makes for a much better read. For anyone reading this if you are looking for something funny and light but with a real deepness underneath of black magic and lies, I think this is a fantastic pick. The real reason that I wanted to write this though was to congradulate Diana Wynne Jones for her wonderful ability to write stories that will be around for generations and still be as magical then, as it is now. Id love to write when Im older, already my head is full to bursting with ideas that I cant understand or spell at the moment (on of the reason why I sympathises with Grundo, being a little dyslexic my self).Well you dont have to put this on the web site because Im sure no one wants to read a 14 page essay on one small 15 year old girls opinions. Just read this, whoever does, be it Diana Wynne Jones her self, and understand that writers are very lucky and gifted people. P.S Im sorry for any grammar or spelling mistakes and all the comers, it seems my writing isnt complete without fifty billion of them. OH! and for writing so much.
If you want to buy The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones and help readingmatters, please use these links
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Diana Wynne Jones has written plenty of other books. For me, The Merlin Conspiracy stands alone, but you might like to look at any of these:
I love books about magic, the stronger the better! If you were carried away with The Merlin Conspiracy, like I was, then I think you might like to look at this one by Garth Nix:
Or you could look at this one by Peter Dickinson:
There is the wonderful Snow-Walker trilogy, full of strong Viking magic, by Catherine Fisher:
And of course, if you haven't already come across Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, then you have a great treat ahead of you!
One more recommendation! You might enjoy this wonderful old London created by Philip Reeve: