Again, not nearly long enough! but enjoyable, and told a part of the Merlin story I hadn’t heard before. After the events in Hobby, Merlin is back in the forest is living rough- searching for food and avoiding dogs. He comes across a band of “wodewose” or wild people who live in the forest far from society. Orphans, abandoned children and outcasts. They’re suspicious of Merlin at first- he’s older than an unwanted child that usually gets dumped in the woods. Merlin tries to find his place among them but doesn’t know how to act, doesn’t understand the rules, even has trouble making himself understood- they talk differently. Most of the kids his age ignore or tease him, but one smaller child with pale hair follows him around and offers seemingly-useless help. When the wild folk find out that Merlin has prophetic dreams, the women hold him captive, apparently intending to force him to dream for their benefit. This was confusing- well, the experience Merlin had of being imprisoned wasn’t, but the women’s purpose was. Merlin is resigned to his fate for a while, but then finds that he can do things with magic he never did before- and perhaps even call it to use when he needs it. The smaller boy helps him in the end (turns out it was supposed to be Arthur). Disaster comes to the wild folk, but Merlin and the boy Arthur avoid the carnage and run off together into the trees. Felt kind of abrupt- just one chapter in a larger story- I really wish there was more detail, more length and arc. But I suppose these books are satisfying enough for the intended audience, middle grade readers.
Borrowed from the public library.