Aug 16, 2011

From Cornwell's Excalibur

Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian fantasy trilogy is wonderful: especially his Merlin & Nimue. He also resurrected Derfel, a character dropped out of the newer versions of the tales. Derfel is a big blond blue-eyed Saxon warrior who narrates the novels. He was raised by Merlin, and becomes Arthur's right hand man.

At this point in the book, Merlin & Nimue have collected the 13 Treasures of Britain, all highly magical items. On Samhain Eve they will light huge fires, 'do one or two other things that don't matter very much,' and call back the Gods from the chasm of Annwn to bless Britain with their presence again. Merlin voices his doubts:

'Of course I'm frightened, you halfwit. Nimue isn't.' He glanced at Nimue, who was watching us both with a sullen look.'You're full of certainty, my little one, aren't you?' Merlin mocked her, 'but for me, Derfel, I wish this had never been necessary. We don't even know what's supposed to happen when we light the fires. Maybe the Gods will come, but perhaps they'll bide their time?' He gave me a fierce look. 'If nothing happens, Derfel, that doesn't mean that nothing happened. Do you understand that?'

And that's magic. I so wish that silver sparks would fly every time I raise my wand, and that I could feel & see the living presence of the Goddesses & Gods with Hollywood quality special effects. Instead I have to wait for a spell to unfold, a sprout to unfurl from a tiny seed, a moonbeam to light on a kitten's tiny white paw. Just because nothing much happens, doesn't mean that nothing happened.


  1. I love Bernard Cornwell, I like the viking series he does too.

  2. Yes! New Uhtred book in Sept for UK, then I think Jan for US. I'll have to search that series for some good magic quotes, too.