Merlin, by Robert de Boron
The literature of the Middle Ages isn’t the one I prefer, and I’m not at all an expert in this genre. I took this book, for a challenge for the Historical Fictionistas group on Goodreads. There’s a big preface in this text in French, which I haven’t read. I prefer to make my own idea first. Then, sometimes, I read the prefaces if I think I need additional information. So, I dived into Merlin, head first, which I don’t even do at the swimming pool I'm too scared! Well ... by reading the book, I was scared!
The first chapters tell why Merlin was conceived, so what happened before his conception, then his birth and the first years of his life.
I was immersed in this medieval world, which always terrified me, when the door of the house opened suddenly my son came back for the weekend. I jumped, I thought I had a heart attack! This is to tell you how poignant, emotional, is the beginning of this book.
It must be said that the devil insinuates itself everywhere in the man ... and in the woman, especially in one of her whom it fertilizes, which will give birth to Merlin.
The life of women is the submission to men imposed by the law of men of the Middle Ages a young free woman who sleeps with a free man is put to death. A woman seduced by her priest (which didn’t seem to be an isolated fact, given the number of times that Robert de Boron mentions it!), this woman, therefore, is also put to death. And the men Oh, no, they aren’t killed for sleeping, poor of them, it's not their fault they’re seduced by these brainless female creatures always inclined to open their hearts to the devil!
So, let’s return to Merlin. He’s the son of the devil and of a girl who was a virgin until the devil visited her against her will... By the behaviour conduct of Merlin’s mother, the devil cannot completely own the soul of this child, who will lean all his life on the good side.
Roughly speaking, I only knew about Merlin his long white beard and his cape with a pointed hat. I discovered in this story a young, mischievous Merlin, who sometimes laughs like a devil, and who doesn’t use the straightest (rightest) ways to achieve his goals! In short, apart from his fantastic (magical) nature, I found Merlin more human than a human.
There’s a lot going on in this story, really a lot of events! If you like intrigues, dragons, knights, battles, wonders and mysteries, you’ll be served. All these events are told in a very, very simple way no adjectives, no feelings described, very few vocabularies.
On the other hand, more than half of the text are dialogues, and there, Robert de Boron is very strong.
And some monologues or essays on the divine, the diabolical, the human nature are very finely studied.
And ... if you read it until the end, you'll be surprised with what can happen to a great character like Merlin when he falls stupidly in love! Last victory is for a woman, fair enough! 😊
Some passages on the wars between kings, dukes or barons, castle assaults, men's honor that can only be repaired in revenge and blood bored me. Just a matter of personal taste.
But in the end, I rate this Merlin by Robert de Boron five stars, because it’s good to be remembered from time to time that anger and revenge are the doors we open to the devil towards our heart.