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The Lost Years of Merlin is a five-book epic authored by T.A. Barron, which details the adventures of a teenaged Merlin as he explores the magical isle of Fincayra, with a great amount of focus on how the wizard we all know and love today develops from a bratty teenage boy into the wise and all-knowing wizard.
The boy is rooted in humble beginnings in a remote village implied to be somewhere in Wales, where he lives with his well-intended and doting mother, is tormented by the local bully, and yearns for greater things. When a terrible incident results in the death of the bully and the loss of the boy's sight, he lives in anguish for several weeks until he slowly begins to develop a magical "second sight," the true awakening of his latent magic powers. He then leaves the village where he has dwelt his entire known life and sails away on a self-built raft in order to find his true home. As luck would have it, a storm overtakes him and he washes up on the shores of Fincayra, a legendary isle said to be the gateway between heaven and earth, an "in-between" place. As the boy explores the island, he makes new friends and dangerous enemies, all of whom help him grow into a respectable young man worthy of carrying the title of greatest wizard of all time.
The five books in the series are:
- . The Lost Years of Merlin (1996)
- . The Seven Songs of Merlin (1997)
- . The Fires of Merlin (1998)
- . The Mirror of Merlin (1999)
- . The Wings of Merlin (2000)
It is not extremely well-known and is a pretty archetypical Standard Fantasy Setting, but each book was received relatively decently and sold enough to make the New York Times Best-Sellers List.
There is talk of a movie adaptation of at least the first book of the series. Has no relation to the TV show on BBC.
Tropes in the series:
- Big Bad: Rhita Gawr.
- Big Good: Dagda.
- The Bully: Dinatius
- Burn the Witch: A group of bullies tries to do this to Merlin's mother. They pay dearly for this.
- Catch Phrase: Shim's "As big as the highliest tree."
- Character Development
- Dark Is Not Evil: Domnu, who is described as being cold but not evil, like fate. She can be kind of a jerk, though.
- Disability Superpower: Merlin's basically the fantasy version of Daredevil.
- Identity Amnesia: The first book starts with
MerlinEmrys being washed up on the shores of Wales with no memory of his past.
- Implacable Man:
- The first book has the Ghoulians, undead warriors of Stangmar that pull swords and daggers out and cast them aside like they're nothing, and even get up after a very angry giant stomps on them over and over again.
- The Wings of Merlin has Slayer who uses any spell Merlin uses to attack or flee back on him, and even goes through a desperate Stangmar, survives being crushed in Shim's giant hand, comes back after being thrown out into the sea, swims through the sea after Merlin escapes on a boat to an island surrounded by a magic barrier, proceeds through said barrier, and even survives a rockslide on top of him.
- In Name Only: When you get down to it, most of this series (including the entire setting of Fincayra) are not related to Arthurian legend. The Mirror of Merlin is a bit closer though.
- Last Of Her Kind: Cwen is the last treeling on Fincayra.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Stangmar to Merlin at the end of the first book
- Merlin: Naturally.
- Merlin and Nimue: Nimue appears as a minor character in The Seven Songs of Merlin. She comes back in The Mirror of Merlin and plays the trope straight, being the one who trapped Future!Merlin in his crystal cave.
- My Future Self and Me: In The Mirror of Merlin, Merlin goes through a Magic Mirror where he meets his future self in the process of mentoring a young Arthur.
- Mysterious Parent: Branwen.
- Plot Coupon: The Seven Songs of Magic in The Seven Songs of Merlin, which Merlin needs in order to access the underworld and get an elixir to cure his mother, yet another Plot Coupon.
- Quest for Identity
- Separated at Birth: Emrys and Rhiannon.
- Unstoppable Rage: See Burn the Witch up above. Also, Slayer.
- Wild Child: Rhiannon.