Tor, Mar 2003, 24.95, 368 pp.
Merlin stays young as long as he does not use his magic, but every time he applies the “charm”, he ages. Always in a quest for more arcane knowledge, Merlin joins Jason on his crusade to obtain the Golden Fleece. Later the Enchantress Medea kills Jason's two sons and steals their corpses. The grieving former hero sails into the night on the Argo with no reason to live, unable to obtain closure.
Centuries later, Merlin learns that a “screaming” ship is locked inside a frozen lake. Concluding that the vessel must be the Argo, he journeys to help his mourning friend Jason, who screams for his lost sons. Using his cherished “charm”, he raises the Argo at the cost of much of his youth. He next informs Jason that his two sons live. A renewed Jason puts together a new crew of Argonauts set to rescue his children.
Combining Arthurian legend with Greek mythology, Robert Holdstock displays he may be the leading mythologist of modern times. The story line is more than just an epic adventure as the key players, Merlin and Jason learn that no man, no matter how powerful or heroic, is an island. Magic seems unfeigned and the blending of the two epic lines brilliantly conceived and achieved. The first book of the Merlin Codex is a triumph that fantasy readers will relish, keep, and desire immediate release of book two in this terrific opus.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner