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T.A. Barron

t.a. barron review(1952- )
T.A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. Though he’d dreamed of becoming a writer, he couldn’t find anyone to publish his first novel. He joined a business, eventually became president, then decided to try again. So in 1989, he surprised his business partners by moving back to Colorado to become a writer and conservationist. Since then he has written over twenty highly acclaimed novels, children’s books, and nature books, many of which are international best sellers. He has won the Nautilus Award, given to books that inspire a better world, along with many honors from the American Library Association and the International Reading Association. His favorite pastime is hiking, camping, or skiing in Colorado with his family, which he does at every opportunity. Find maps and games at T.A. Barron’s website.

The Lost Years: Initial novelty has worn off

The Lost Years by T.A. Barron

Perhaps because it was a tad over-hyped for me, perhaps because since its publication there have been several other books and films that tell the story of Merlin's youth, but T.A. Barron's The Lost Years left me a little cold. I enjoyed it well enough, though certain segments dragged a little, but ultimately I think that much of its initial novelty has worn off. What was an innovative look at an unknown aspect of a legendary figure's life back in 1996 may feel like a somewhat generic fantasy-adventure by today's standards.

Told in first-person narrative by our young Merlin (who goes by the name of Emrys), the story begins with him and his mother being washed up on the shores of Wales. Unable to remember who he is or where he's come from, Emrys and Branwen make a life for themselves in a small village, though he eventually comes to suspect that the woman he ... Read More

The Seven Songs: Missing the X factor

The Seven Songs by T.A. Barron

"Pursue the Seven Songs in Turn; the Parts Beget the Whole..."

The second book in T.A. Barron's MERLIN SAGA (preceded by The Lost Years and followed by The Raging Fires) continues young Merlin's journey toward the powerful wizard of legend. Having noticed that there was very little literature that dealt with Merlin in his formative years, Barron set about writing a "prequel" of sorts to Arthurian legend that explored what Merlin was like as a child. In the first book Merlin discovers the identity of his parents and travels to his homeland Fincayra, an island that exists between the mortal and spirit world.

Having found several treasures that have the power to restore life to Fincayra, Merlin begins his next adventure by travelling across the island with the Flowering Harp, b... Read More

The Raging Fires: Enjoyable well-written fantasy for youngsters

The Raging Fires by T. A. Barron

"The Dragon Avenges His Dreams Yet Unhatched..."

The third book in T.A. Barron's MERLIN SAGA, chronicling the adventures of the young wizard before his famous exploits in the Arthurian legends, continues on from The Lost Years and The Seven Songs of Merlin. Merlin has been reunited with his mother and sister on the magical island of Fincayra and is looking forward to continuing his learning in the magical arts. But it is not to be, for elsewhere on the island the ancient dragon Valdearg has awakened from his decades-long slumber to discover that his unhatched eggs have been destroyed -- and he's not happy.

A prophesy hints that Merlin will be the one to end the scourge of the dragon -- but at the cost of his own life. Furthermore, he will need the precious gemstone known as the Galator to c... Read More

The Mirror of Fate: Solid but superfluous

The Mirror of Fate by T.A. Barron

The Mirror of Fate is the fourth book in T.A. Barron's THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN saga, chronicling the adventures and experiences of Merlin as a young man, long before Arthur's birth and Camelot's creation. Having discovered his true parentage and voyaged to his birthplace, the magical island of Fincayra, Merlin is now practicing and improving his magical abilities, helped along by several friends and family members.

Although Barron has by now established quite a large cast of characters, it's whittled down to Merlin and Hallia — a girl who can shapeshift into a deer — for the duration of The Mirror of Fate, at least to start with. The two friends are practicing spells together when Merlin accidentally teleports them to the edge of the Haunted Marshes, a dangerous place where the trees seems to groan in fear ... Read More

A Wizard’s Wings: A fitting end to a popular saga

A Wizard’s Wings by T.A. Barron

This is the fifth and final book of T.A. Barron’s THE LOST YEARS OF MERLIN cycle, one of the earliest literary explorations of the famous wizard’s childhood. Since then there have been a number of books (and one television show) about what this enigmatic sorcerer was like as a young boy, well before his mentoring of the famed King Arthur, but Barron’s take on the subject matter remains one of the most popular.

So popular that it’s warranted a recent re-publication, with new cover art and tweaked titles. What was originally published as The Wings of Merlin is now called A Wizard’s Wings and the entire MERLIN collection — including its two spin-off series — has been repackaged as a twelve-book series.

But for all intents and purposes, this is the instalment that closes Merlin’s childhood and prepares him for his role as m... Read More

The Dragon of Avalon: A return visit to the island of Avalon

The Dragon of Avalon by T.A. Barron

Recent republications of The Dragon of Avalon number it as the sixth instalment in T.A. Barron's MERLIN series. To be more accurate, it was published *after* the five-part LOST YEARS OF MERLIN and THE GREAT TREE OF AVALON trilogy, but is placed between them in the chronology of events. Confusing, right?

Although reading this in the newly designated order certainly doesn't give away any spoilers, there's a definite sense that Barron expects you to have some awareness of the Great Tree of Avalon (it's kind of like reading The Magician's Nephew before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in the NARNIA books -- tho... Read More

Atlantis Rising: Did Not Finish

Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron

I gave Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron a pretty fair shot I’d say—200 of its 370 pages, but eventually I just had to give it up. And I wasn’t alone in that, as my wife and 13-yr-old son gave up far, far quicker. As usual with books I didn’t care for, and especially for books I didn’t finish (a rarity for me), this will be a relatively short review, as I don’t like to belabor the point.

The problems began immediately, with the introduction of the main character (Promi), a sassy and spunky orphan street thief with a heart of gold who is good with a knife (though not good enough to avoid trouble with a corrupt and brutal priest), that ends up in a chase scene where Promi gets to toss off barbs at the chasing guards while performing acrobatic feats of derring do. Now, I’ve always been one to lets t... Read More

More children’s fantasy by T.A. Barron

The Heartlight Saga — (1990-1994) Ages 9-12. Publisher: A young girl must find her missing grandfather — and uncover the secret he harbors that could save Earth and the entire solar system from annihilation.

Original novels                                                                                        Omnibus
book review t.a. barron kate heartlightbook review t.a. barron kate the ancient onebook review t.a. barron kate the merlin effect                fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

t.a. barron tree girlTree Girl — (2001) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Anna doesn’t know how she lost her mother. Or when. For as long as she can remember, she has lived in a lonely cottage by the sea with cranky old Mellwyn the fisherman. But Anna yearns to know more about her past and the mother she can barely recall. If only she could go to the far side of the forest where the High Willow stands — and where Mellwyn found her as a baby, years ago. Trouble is, the forest is haunted by deadly tree ghouls — the same ghouls who probably killed her mother! To solve the mystery of her shadowy past, Anna must face the ghouls themselves… and her own deepest fears.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsThe Day the Stones Walked — (2007) Ages 9-12. Publisher: Pico’s father isn’t like the other fathers on Easter Island. Instead of building boats or hunting octopus, he sculpts the giant stone figures that he believes, in times of trouble, will rise and walk. Impossible, thinks Pico, until the Great Wave crashes into the island and Pico experiences firsthand the wonder of the stones. In this stunning tale of faith and the humbling power of nature, T. A. Barron and William Low envision life as it might have been on the mysterious Easter Island . . . before the stones became the island’s only inhabitants.