MERLIN DREAMS by Peter Dickinson
Kirkus Star


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Like one of his memorable characters, master storyteller Dickinson has two ways of seeing people or events: he can ""pierce right through to the centre of their being and see exactly what they were,"" or seem ""to be seeing something else, what they might have been, perhaps, or what they ought to be, or what they could never be."" In these ten stories, set in a world akin to Merlin's Britain as dream is kin to memory, he entwines contemporary experience with the potent legends of the mage whose complex relationship with time continues to fascinate us. The stories themselves are accessible, witty, and full of bold action--although there are no traditional heroes. Instead, there's a boy who sensibly learns to dodge blows rather than withstand them, which results in his being able to defeat a dragon (his stepmother); a damsel in distress who prefers being a Scottish chieftan to marrying her hero--who wryly realizes that he won't be able to tell his story (he's been trading bodies with a dog) as a heroic tale; a half-mad drunken king who begins to defend his people's rights after a draught of pure water restores his sense; and a fine unicorn story using traditional lore and a satisfying modern conclusion. The stories' poetic introductions muse on the memories underlying the dreams. ""Dreams are like bards,"" says Dickinson, ""wandering from feast to feast."" He has provided us with a splendid series of banquets. The generous supply of Lee's rich, fantastical paintings and drawings is sure to whet appetites.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Delacorte