Merlin echoes the tone and rhythms of Passager (1996) and Hobby (1996, both Harcourt), brief novels with medieval yet timeless settings, written in stark but poetic language that will challenge some readers. It begins when Merlin is 12 and alone in the forest. Escaping from a pack of wild dogs, he is rescued by the wodewose, the wild folk of the woods, and taken to their tent village. But the wild folk are reluctant to take in the boy until they learn that he is a dreamer. Then he is not only claimed, but also caged, and fed a steady diet of herbs and potions to induce sleep. One of his dreams predicts the bloody destruction of the wodewose, and as they pack their tents and belongings, Merlin escapes and returns to the woods. He is followed by a child known as Cub, who has tried to befriend and protect him. When the wild folk are destroyed by advancing soldiers, Merlin and Cub realize they are alone in the world. Feeling that the child needs a true name as they journey together into the future, Merlin names him Artus?bear man?after another of his dreams. Yolen's three books fit together as seamlessly as the chapters of a single volume. Without the other installments, Merlin is merely an episode in the life of the young and future wizard (albeit an important one). Read together, this trilogy presents a logical tale taking Merlin from early abandonment down the road to his much more well-known future.
Book three of the trilogy (all three are listed here). A really neat new version of the legend.