The story is narrated by two very different teenagers, who each inhabit two extraordinarily different worlds. Arianrhod Hyde's world (or Roddy, as she prefers to be called) is very much the world of magic, pageantry and ritual. Not unlike Britain in King Arthur's Day, Roddy is daughter of two Court Wizards and therefore part of the King's Progress, travelling round the Islands of Blest and ready to take part in whatever ritual or ceremony is required, as it occurs. Presiding over all, the most important person is the Merlin, who is entrusted with the magical health of the Isles of Blest.
Nick Mallory's world is much more familiar - at least it starts off being our own. But it soon transpires that Nick's not quite the ordinary 15-year-old he seems, as he slips sideways into something he thinks is a dream - but in fact is another world entirely. Now, Nick's been on other worlds before (although never alone) but he's a confident type. Maybe a bit too confident....
In Roddy's world, the current Merlin expires and a new one takes his place. Yet something is wrong - the rituals have been upset and nothing is going the way it should. Roddy needs help, and certain powers indicate that Nick is to be the one to help her. And Nick is cool about helping her - in theory...but it's a bit worrying that she seems to mistake him for a magic-user. Their stories unfold, side-by-side, each part leading into the next, and the Merlin Conspiracy thickens as the tales swirl around each other - twining, meeting, and affecting each other, yet never completely combining until the very end chapters when all is finally revealed.
Compelling, howling funny in places, mind-boggling - this is going to WOW DWJ fans all around the world (and probably in other universes too).
©2012 Diane Wynne Jones (P)2012 Harper Collins Publishers Limited
For someone who likes to listen to (and has read) the whole thing, to find out that this is an abridged recording NOT unabridged as listed above has been most disappointing (have a look at the HarperCollins site which clearly states this as an abridged version). This is most misleading of audible/amazon - I wouldn't have purchased it if the details were correct.
Despite the excellent narration, I just could not listen to this after several attempts. Something about the clunky writing style just brings me out in a rash, and the story did not seem to be going anywhere or to contain anyone interesting.
Some reviewers seem to love it though. Maybe this is just a personal reaction! I recommend a careful listen to the audio sample before you decide to buy.
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