Monday, February 10, 2014

Passager

I think I would have enjoyed Jane Yolen's Young Merlin trilogy a lot more as a kid.  As an adult, despite the fascinating application of falconry metaphors to the origin story of the famous Merlin of King Arthur mythology, the first book, Passager, was simply too short to really grab my interest.  In this retelling, Merlin is abandoned in the wilderness as a young boy, where he becomes feral, living on mushrooms, berries, and the occasional raw fish, and slowly forgets his memories of life in human community and even his language, for lack of anyone with whom he can converse.  But when the wild boy sees a falconer and his bird, he follows the man home, and like a young falcon, is caught and tamed.  A passager, after all, is just that: a wild bird, caught young and lovingly tamed.  When the young boy discovers his name at the end, reclaiming his human identity without losing the intuition and affinity to the natural world, the scene is quite moving.  However, the book was just too short for any meaningful plot advancement.  This really is a brief little children's book, and it was ultimately unsatisfying.  Perhaps if all three were bound together...?  In any case, I think I'll leave the Young Merlin trilogy here, and not bother with the next two books.  Reading Passager instead made me really want to revisit The Snow Child, a far richer story about a child who manages to be self-sufficient in a harsh wilderness.  Sorry, Jane Yolen - turns out I prefer your books with a little more depth to them!  But if you're looking for an interesting, children's-length retelling of the early life of the wizard Merlin, Passager is a nice choice.

Evidently, Yolen has written over 280 books (thank you, Wikipedia).  Wow!  I've only read a few of those - my favorites, which I own, are Wizard's Hall and Dragon's Blood.  Have you read any of her books, and what did you think?

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