The Merlin Conspiracy (Magids #2) by Diana Wynne Jones, David Wyatt (Illustrator)

When the Merlin of Blest dies, everyone thinks it’s a natural death. But Roddy and Grundo, two children traveling with the Royal Court, soon discover the truth. The Merlin’s replacement and other courtiers are scheming to steal the magic of Blest for their own purposes.

Roddy enlists the help of Nick, a boy from another world, and the three turn to their own impressive powers. The dangers are great, and if Roddy, Grundo, and Nick cannot stop the conspirators, the results will be more dreadful than they could possibly imagine.

My Review of The Merlin Conspiracy

The Merlin ConspiracyThe Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this one! It’s full of wonderful and lively characters – I like Roddy, Grundo and Nick but the elephant is probably my favourite!

Nick had a backstory that I thought was a bit vague until I realised this is actually a sequel. I’ll have to go back and read the first book now, but I don’t think it’s necessary to read it first because everything else made sense.

Romanov is a very interesting character. I would have liked to have seen more about him and his background. It’s such a packed story that I think he got pushed to the side a bit and ended up not really doing much.

Grundo is dyslexic and his magic comes out back to front!

But what happened to the panther? Nick meets it once and it seems like it might be quite important but then never reappears.

Seeing the narrators from other characters point of view is reveals more about them. Roddy seems sensible and kind from her own point of view but, from Nick’s perspective, she’s quite cold and bossy. Roddy’s grandad I expected from Roddy’s mother’s description to be cold and cruel but Roddy finds that he actually is caring in his odd own way. They all have layered personalities like real actual people and it also shows that one person’s view of events is never the whole story.

The worldbuilding for Blest is brilliant, I could almost feel the sunshine and at one point I felt like I had wasps buzzing around me the way the characters did. When Nick travels through different worlds they all felt realistic too, even the place where Romanov lives that changes according to Romanov’s whims.

The plot is deeper, darker and more intelligent than most adult books. It felt very English (lot’s of tea and sandwiches!) and it almost lulled me into thinking it’s a cosy adventure but then the characters face real danger and the villains are scary enough to banish the cosy feel.

Diane Wynn Jones is very good at plot twists and including little, seemingly throwaway things that end up having big, unexpected effects and being important to the story. It’s a complicated plot but I never felt lost and I love the way it all comes together at the end.

I feel like there should have been a sequel to find out what happens next to Roddy and Nick (and the panther!) and to fill in a bit more about Romanov. That may be just because I want to know more about the characters though because the story does has a definite ending.

This was wonderful to lose myself in for a couple of days, and it’s one that I will be keeping to reread.

The Merlin Conspiracy
Diana Wynne Jones, David Wyatt (Illustrator)
Children's Fantasy
January 1st 2003

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