You don't have to be a fan of the mythic fantasy genre to enjoy Merlin's Charge. Peter Joseph Swanson has visited the Arthurian legends and used his skill of creating a story driven by the dialogue and thoughts and conflicts of the characters. I feel like an eavesdropper reading his books.
Reflecting the modern upheaval in politics and culture we see today, Merlin's Charge is set in an era of change. The old ways of Merlin steeped in a close relationship with the Earth versus the new-fangled ways of the Romans' version of Christianity focusing on atonement with an unseen spiritual presence and the words of men.
Merlin is challenged with bringing up adolescent Arthur and teaching him to think for himself so he can be a fair and wise ruler with a foot in the past and a foot in the future. The country is in desperate times due to drought and in-fighting, so they set upon a mission to try to bring relief to a desperate, starving town that lost its communal cauldron and its ability to provide for the people. His duty is complicated by the company of Parisfal, a young proud man who is trying to define himself. Nimm and Mother Hubbard join in to complicate Merlin's love life and to lend their witchcraft skills in the quest. Abbott Babble Blaise is a constant reminder that the church is on the rise, inflicting guilt where none before existed, and gaining influence
Arthur has so many things to consider as he prepares himself to be king of a troubled land. How to unite the feuding knights and landowners? How to bring together people on both sides of the religious fronts? How to end the suffering? How to resolve the conflicts in his own mind over the absence of a proper father?
I enjoyed Merlin's Charge with its squabbling characters and moral conflicts and found more than a few similarities between the then and the now. How difficult it must be to be a new leader!