Publication Date: December 11, 2012
In Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles by Daniel Diehl, Jason Carpenter, a grad student in England from Canal Fulton, Ohio, finds a crystalline sphere in the layers of the earth under a medieval outhouse. The mystical sphere seems to be alive and is a mystery as the technology to make such a sphere wasn’t available in the time period from which is must have come. Jason soon starts to have terrifying dreams featuring an older man with a white beard and when that man appears to him in the flesh and tells Jason that he is Merlin of the Arthurian legend, Jason is sure he’s going crazy. Merlin is on a quest and he needs Jason’s help to stop an old and very dangerous enemy. An enemy set to destroy and then dominate the modern world. Can they work together and save mankind?
I am so honored to have been given this pre-release of Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles to read and review. The story line is a mixture of religion, history and legend that can’t help but entice the reader. The story line idea is complex but accessible. Merlin has managed to stay alive and hidden from his enemies for 1,600 years. He is mortal; he can die and he is not magic, but scientific. Morgana Le Fay has been keeping herself alive and vital and manipulating some of the world’s worst events waiting for Merlin to appear because he is unwittingly blocking the means to her true destruction of the planet and domination in her name.
In Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles we’re treated to the introduction of the characters and story line and I cannot help but be excited about the promise they hold. Jason is a reluctant helper. His true love of knowing what he can’t know leads him to help Merlin as much as he can. Merlin leaps from the page as a bit of a scamp. Hopping around in the heads to find who speaks the language he wants to learn and then learning that language from their memories in due course. Merlin loves his pizza and likes his whiskey. He morphs into a long-dead playwright whose image he sees in Jason’s memory and is unapologetic for messing with Jason’s mind. Despite these modern inclinations, Merlin is completely convincing as someone who is new to his world and wanting to know more and, more importantly, save those who live there.
Morgana le Fay is a brilliant baddie. By the end of Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles, I couldn’t help but think we’d only scratched the surface of her potential as a truly evil literary force. Morgana and Lucrezia Borgia were good friends during the latter life. Morgana comments offhand about how sadly indiscrete she was with men. Lucretzia died after giving birth to her eighth (known) child. She comments on how interesting Hitler was and how sad it was that he killed himself before the work they started could be finished. The little nods that Diehl gives to history show his deep knowledge of the subject and, in fact, before writing this first work of fiction, Diehl co-authored 20 non-fiction works along with several documentaries.
The detail within the story line is wildly creative and the ends are drawn together in religion, science and mythology are done so in a cohesive way that leads a reader to buy what Daniel Diehl is selling. Elemental demons? Sure. Dragons? Why not. These are whispers of the past expanded in a way to make for a truly entertaining story.
So what didn’t I like about Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles? This is the first novel in a series. The author’s goal with this novel is to set up the characters, introduce the story line, and reveal some of the motivations that will drive the eventual overlying plotline. By virtue of this task, the story must drag, even if only slightly. Diehl does choose to show us who Jason and Merlin are more than tell us, but by virtue of technique there are moments when the reader says, “Let’s get to the action already!” Diehl shows us early on that he’s not adverse to killing or damaging a character, which adds to the excitement of the story.
Another complaint is that Revelations: Book One of the Merlin Chronicles ends at a vital point. We make great strides in this first novel, but the promise of the next is staggering. I look forward to its release. This book is recommended to those who read fantasy, history, thriller or just love a baddie with huge potential and nowhere to go but bad.