Merlin Conspiracy Review

minnow at minnow at
Mon Jun 16 07:27:46 EDT 2003

Ian W Riddell posted:

>Here's the review of "The Merlin Conspiracy" from the latest "Horn
>Book Magazine":

[snippety snip]

>When Roddy and her friend Grundo discover that the Merlin (who is in
>charge of magic)

Some of it, but by no means all, see Mrs. Candace (pronounced kan-DAH-chi
by DWJ, if anyone was wondering -- everyone can obviously say it however
they choose, but I thought it worth mentioning that she says it that way)
and other characters, not to mention a dragon.

>has been murdered, they are unable to convince
>anyone else of the murder conspiracy.

They don't discover this, because it hasn't happened.  It would indeed be a
bit difficult to convince the world that someone has been murdered when he
is walking around being alive literally all over the country.

>Roddy summons an unknown
>helper, Nick, who is startled to be drawn from his own equally magic

Or rather, not his own because he wasn't there at the time.  Oh, and his
own is not equally magic, that's part of his problem.

>but loves Roddy on sight.

For "loves" read "fancies".

And so on.

I like the "numerous adults who often turn out to be related in some way"
-- to whom?  The contrary goat, the elephant, the salamanders, the twins?
or maybe to Roddy or to each other?  *sigh*

Oh well, at least it is inaccurate enough not to be a spoiler.  I wonder
how long Susan Dove Lempke spent reading the book.  The "Roddy 4 Nick" line
she seems to be trying to follow makes me feel she read it for the Lerve
Int'rest rather than reading it for what was actually there.  She wants a
developing interest between Roddy and Nick.  Oh.  Was that something truly
important to the plot?  I would have said there were other things that had
more to do what the book had to say, meself.  I don't particularly want to
read the sequel she's asking for.

That phrase "the conclusion lacks closure on an emotional level" is
something I have noticed about DWJ before, but don't find in the least
worrying.  She refrains from giving one a simplistic "and they all lived
happily ever after" in any of her books that I can think of: and thank Ghu
for it, because it would be such an obvious deceit.  The immediate problems
in each book get dealt with by the end, more or less, major wrongness gets
sorted out and squashed, but the individuals are going to move on from that
point, not just sit there being "happy" and turning into little cabbages,
and that's how things are in Real Life (OMT).  Has any of the books got
"closure", or are we invited to regard them as slices out of a much longer
story DWJ happens not to go on telling?  I don't feel that I *want*
"closure on an emotional level", really.  Well, I never want things
expressed in litcrit jargonisation (closure, huh?) but if that means what I
think it must be intended to mean then I don't think I want it.

To be fair, I would hate to feel obliged to summarise Merl in under three
hundred words for a review; I don't see how one could do it justice.  I'm
not very impressed by summarising it simply wrong, though: if I had to
review it at that length, I don't think I would try to give a plot summary
at all.

Minnow (who gave up on most reviewers a long time ago)

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