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1. The Wicked Day (The Arthurian
2. The Ivy Tree
3. Madam, Will You Talk?
4. Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy
5. The Blossoming Rod
6. Thornyhold
7. The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian
8. Nine Coaches Waiting
9. The Last Enchantment (The Arthurian
10. Airs Above the Ground
11. This Rough Magic
12. Wildfire at Midnight
13. Rose Cottage: A Novel
14. Thunder on the Right
15. The Gabriel Hounds
16. The Stormy Petrel
17. Touch Not the Cat
18. The Moon Spinners
19. Mary Stewart: Four Complete Novels
20. The Hollow Hills (The Arthurian

1. The Wicked Day (The Arthurian Saga, Book 4)
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 417 Pages (2003-05-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060548282
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Born of an incestuous relationship between King Arthur and his half sister, the evil sorceress Morgause, the bastard Mordred is reared in secrecy. Called to Camelot by events he cannot deny, Mordred becomes Arthur’s most trusted counselor -- a fateful act that leads to the "wicked day of destiny" when father and son must face each other in battle.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Tragic
Mary Stewart's Authurian series of books are incredible but the 4th book literally is one of the few books that has ever made me cry. I was so wrapped up in hoping Mordred escapes his fate, and when he doesn't it is incredibly tragic. Do yourself a favor and read the books. But have tissues nearby when you read the final book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Mary Stewart Arthurian series
I generally like this author and I am a King Arthur fan.This series is written through Merlin's eyes.I have not yet read this final book in the series.Some of her ideas on the Arthurian legend are a bit different than the traditional ideas and in places she gets a bit long-winded. But overall I liked the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Series
I am reading the series and I am really enjoying her books. She brings the Merlan and King Aurthor story to life.

5-0 out of 5 stars Addictive
If you like historical fictions, then you are sure to love the 4th book in the Arthurian Saga.Just like the first 3 books in this series, I couldn't wait to sit down and immerse myself in another world.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Wicked Day by Mary Stewart
Having read most of Mary Stewart's books, this one is a major disappointment.If you have read her Merlin Trilogy, this will be a "light" rehash of the engaging work in the previous books.It does give you a different look at the history in the eyes of Mordred but it is not backed by all the info and research piled in the other books.
... Read more

2. The Ivy Tree
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 224 Pages (2007-07)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$2.74
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556527268
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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Mary Grey had come from Canada to the land of her forebears: Northumberland. As she savored the ordered, spare beauty of England’s northern fells, the silence was shattered by the shout of a single name: “Annabel!” And there stood one of the angriest, most threatening young men Mary had ever seen. His name was Connor Winslow, and Mary quickly discovered that he thought she was his cousin—a girl supposedly dead these past eight years. Alive, she would be heiress to an inheritance Connor was determined to have for himself. This remarkably atmospheric novel is one of bestselling-author Mary Stewart’s richest, most tantalizing, and most surprising efforts, proving her a rare master of the genre.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars 3 & 1/2 stars
The story line was interesting - a great mystery. However, the description drug on in places for me and I also thought some conversations among characters weren't realistic. I can't be more specific without giving the plot away. Overall, though, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to friends.

3-0 out of 5 stars Took long ... too long.
Normally read a book this size in 2 nights.This lasted me at least a week and it wasn't until the last third that it picked up the pace in my mind.Alot, ALOT of descriptive scenes which are wonderful but needed only for page count, not content.I'm going to read this again only because some reviews mention intricate details - can't say that it will be better the second time around though.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Ivy Tree
I have read all of Mary Stewart's books.I bought this because I didn't have it. This is not my favorite but still a good read.

5-0 out of 5 stars A jewel
Of the many stellar books Mary Stewart wrote, The Ivy Tree just might be the brightest.Expertly plotted, several mysteries are woven through the story, but it's also a treatise on the meanings of 'home' and 'family'.The ivy tree of the title refers to an oak which is being strangled by a vine.In the book's climatic scene, the tree is destroyed, just as the stranglehold of expectations that stunted all the Winslows is destroyed.

Because of her resemblance to the daughter of the house, Mary Grey is recruited to play the Prodigal and return to Whitescar, but just who is Mary Grey?Is she a consummate actress, or is she really Annabel Winslow?Mary/Annabel, who tells the story discloses little though there are plenty of clues.Whitescar seems to be a minefield of emotion and hidden agendas and if at first Mary/Annabel must second-guess her every word and action, she soon relaxes and begins relating to everyone in her orbit.Though Annabel had a cruel streak, Mary is frequently described as 'nice'.So who is it really who has come to Whitescar?

With various subplots involving horses and archeology, starring a large cast of characters, The Ivy Tree is a wonderful read.Though it's catalogued as romantic suspense, Ms. Stewart's skill at evocative description makes it more than a genre piece.The characterizations are masterful also.Some of the best reading in the book are the interactions between Mary/Annabel and Julie, Donald and Adam. Let's not forget the animals, either.One of my favorite scenes is the tea party when the cat Tommy is the illicit beneficiary of crab and ham sandwiches.

The reader cannot help but be reminded of that other great imposter story of the twentieth century, Josephine Tey's Brat Farrar.
If you like Brat Farrar, you'll like The Ivy Tree.

4-0 out of 5 stars An intricately plotted mystery
"The Ivy Tree", first published in 1961, was written as a contemporary novel, but is now something of a period piece. I was immediately struck by how much the protagonist smokes! More subtly, the attitudes to the "place" of men and women, and the power [im]balances between them, make it impossible to forget that this is a novel of an earlier time.

There are plot elements that I can't refer to without revealing major spoilers, so I won't. But I found this a gripping story, with well-drawn characters and an intriguing plot. Towards the end, the tension is ramped up to the point that I almost became breathless at times.

The setting (near Hadrian's Wall) is attractively described, and Stewart manages to slip in some geology and Roman history without ever remotely overdoing it. She also appears to know a lot about horses; I enjoyed the horsey bits very much.

Whether or not the "mystery" remains mysterious (I unravelled it early on, but that did not spoil the pleasure of reading), this is a thoroughly good yarn. ... Read more

3. Madam, Will You Talk?
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 368 Pages (2003-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$3.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060093560
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Much of a strange and tragic drama of revenge, lust, fear, and death has already been played by the time Charity Selborne arrives at a plush resort in the South of France.

But by befriending a terrified boy and catching the attention of his enigmatic, possibly murderous father, Charity has inadvertently placed herself center stage.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very good
Charity Selborne is on vacation in the south of France with a friend, when by chance she meets David Shelley, an English boy traveling with his stepmother. It turns out that the boy's father, Richard Byron, is a murderer--and he's followed David to France. Charity immediately becomes embroiled in the lives of David and Richard, not knowing who she can trust.

Another really great suspense novel from Mary Stewart. One thing she's really good at is description--you can almost hear the cicadas chirping (well, it was quite literal in my case--I had my window open and the cicadas were working overtime!). Mary Stewart is also known for her exotic locations, and this one definitely didn't disappoint. The car chase scene is especially well done; the tension is palpable, even as we find out what really happened all those years ago. Mary Stewart's books aren't by any stretch of the imagination, literature as such (even the cover looks a little bit romance-y), but they're definitely entertaining, and the perfect end-of-summer read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this one down!
Charity Selborne looks forward to a wonderful holiday with her friend Louise in the South of France -- Charity's first holiday since her husband's death. But her dream of lazy days on the beach and lovely afternoons sightseeing come to an end when she befriends a sweet but troubled young boy. From that moment on, her life becomes a nightmare when Richard Byron, the boy's father, begins to stalk her, hoping to find his boy through her. Young David is with his stepmother, who is hiding from Richard. Richard is a dangerous, crazy murderer who shouldn't be allowed to be near his son. But as Charity goes out of her way to protect David, she discovers that things are far more sinister than she had ever imagined.

Mary Stewart is a clever writer of literary romantic suspense. I loved Nine Coaches Waiting and The Ivy Tree but hated Thornyhold. The aforementioned book had magic elements and was sketchy and dull to me. Stewart is in her element with this novel, writing the genre she does best, and I couldn't put Madam, Will You Talk? down. An atmospheric tone is big in Stewart's novels, and this one is not an exception. Suspense and tension are in every page, but the backdrop of the South of France plays a major role as well. I enjoyed Charity's descriptions of cafés, beaches and the Provencal landscapes. The best part is when Charity, in an effort to avoid Richard, travels to Marseilles and takes a tourist ferry ride to the Château d'If. The scene is short, and full of suspense, but I like that the author added that into the mix. All in all, I absolutely LOVED Madam, Will You Talk? First published in 1955, this dark, suspenseful, romantic, and quite surprising novel is a definite page-turner. The plot is a little similar to Nine Coaches Waiting, but only in superficial ways (heroine going beyond her call of duty to protect a child, falling for a man she cannot trust, etc.). My one and only complaint is that this novel is too short (only 191 pages -- at least that was the page count of the used out of print paperback edition I bought). More of a novella than a novel, really. It ended too soon for me and I'm going to experience some Mary Stewart withdrawal. Alas, I have Airs Above the Ground and My Brother Michael on my TBR pile and I look forward to reading those soon.

5-0 out of 5 stars Madam will talk - about this novel!
This was the second MS novel I read, having first read "Touch Not the Cat" in serialized form.I read MWYT while a lonely grad student, waiting for my husband to finish his degree and join me in California for his post-doc.Having little money, I checked out the cheap books at the bookstore (the library had only "serious" books) for fun.MWYT was there for a quarter.I was hooked.The writing is fast-paced, the chase descriptions thrilling, the mystery terrific, the descriptions of people, food, clothing wonderful. All these years later I re-read it to plan my own trip to Roman France.Who would know to watch a sunrise at Les Baux otherwise?

5-0 out of 5 stars Madam Will You Talk
If you appreciate an 'old fashioned' tale free of graphic intimacy and violence, if you appreciate vivid description, romance and intrigue this is for you. I read all but one of Mary Stewart's books in my early twenty's through late thirties. Now, nearing seventy, I am rereading them and cherishing the stories I read in my young years. I have divested myself of hundreds of books. Mary Stewart's remain a constant. Though I prefer some over others "Madam Will You Talk" is one of my favorites. It tells of a young widow vacationing in Southern France who accidentially stumbles on murder, betrayal and intrique.Of course there is a romantic touch, but who is the object of the heroine's affection?Good read...

5-0 out of 5 stars Scarry but exciting novel to read
A novel to read which puts you on the edge of your seat from page one. ... Read more

4. Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy
by Mary Stewart
Hardcover: 919 Pages (1980-12-01)
list price: US$29.99 -- used & new: US$14.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0688003478
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Crystal Cave
The Hollow Hills
The Last Enchantment

The prophetic voice of Merlin, the mysterious enchanter of Arthurian legend, has completeted his story. Written over a period of ten years, Mary Stewart's three best-selling novels now stand together in one volume -- the finest work of her distinguished career.

Hers is the most extended portrait in all literature of this compelling figure of Dark Age myth and history. Merlin, the protector and tutor of Arthur, has usually been protrayed as an old man. But The Crystal Cave begins the trilogy with the story fo his perilous childhood as the bastard son of a Welsh king's daughter and the secret discovery of the magic arts that will set him apart from other men.

With the birth of Arthur, Merlin's guardianship began and the ancient legend continues in The Hollow Hills with the dramatic immediacy that is Mary Stewart's special gift. Arthur grew to young manhood, ignorant of his royal parentage, in the deep and dangerous forests of fifth-century England and Wales, where no law was stable and fierce battle rages amongst the brooding mountains. When, in due course, Merlin guided him to the sword that tested his claim to power and the crown, Arthur became king by right, and soon Merlin, his adviser, was to emerge, however obscurely, as the architect of the first United Britain.

King Arthur plunged instantly into violent warfare against the Saxons. But in The Last Enchantment there are also more dangerous and subtle enemies ranged against him: Mortgause, half-sister and seductress of Arthur; their child, Mordred; the friends and kin who will betray him. Merlin's darkest prophecies were realized one by one, yet his bright vision of the future kingdom did prevail, and he foresaw the mystic power that would be at the King's service as long as Arthur lived.

The imaginative brilliance of the Merlin Trilogy completes the life and character of Merlin which are left untold in the early legends. At the end of each of the novels, Mary Stewart has set down the substance of the original legends and with it the sources of her own variations. Her portrait of Merlin is a new legend in itself.Amazon.com Review
The Merlin Trilogy is Mary Stewart's take on the Arthurian legend in three books: The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and TheLast Enchantment. These books have Merlin, Arthur's wizard mentor, astheir focal point, and the result is a charming, engrossing tale providinga unique perspective on a familiar tale. Her history is superb and richlydetailed, her characterizations are masterful, and her plotting is perfect.You'll be entranced by this magical story. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (94)

5-0 out of 5 stars great book!!!
I love this book!
couldn't get it in dutch language anymore. so i'm glad to have it anyway

2-0 out of 5 stars just not what I expected
This book was recommended to me by a friend.However, it is not the Merlin I expected.This was not a Merlin with magic, but an ordinary man with the "gift" to occasionally see into the future.Then he thinks up a way to make it happen.When I realized this I wanted to put the book down, but I tortured myself and finished the book.I thought it would get better, but it didn't.I asked my friend if the next book made Merlin more 'magical' and she said no.So I wont be reading the next book.Don't bother reading this if your looking for fantasy and magic.

5-0 out of 5 stars Magical
This series is one of my very favorites.I have to admit to having a literary crush on Stewart's Merlin - from a bullied, forgotten child to one of the most powerful figures in all of literature his path is a sympathetic one.The reader can't help but want to side with him even when we know it's going to end badly.I think Rowling must have been a fan too as I see a good deal of similarity in her work.A very enjoyable read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
I always loved reading about Merlin so this series was perfect to add to my library. Loved the way the author told the stories!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast Delivery
I ordered the book on a Thursday and received it by Saturday.The books were packaged securely so there were no damages to it at all.Very satisfied! ... Read more

5. The Blossoming Rod
by Mary Stewart Doubleday Cutting
Paperback: 24 Pages (2010-07-12)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B003VTZ1CO
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Editorial Review

Product Description
The Blossoming Rod is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Mary Stewart Doubleday Cutting is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Mary Stewart Doubleday Cutting then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

6. Thornyhold
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 208 Pages (2008-10-01)
list price: US$12.95 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556527934
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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During Gilly Ramsey’s lonely childhood, the occasional brief visits of her mother’s cousin were a delight, seeming like visits of a fairy godmother. Years later, when Gilly inherits Thornyhold, her house, she discovers that her cousin, with her still room and herbalist practices—and her undoubted powers—had long been known to the locals as a witch. She is approached by neighbors, some innocent, some not so innocent, but all assuming that she, too, is a witch, and a possible addition to the local coven. Gilly finds there is some truth in this, for she discovers that she can call on a kind of power in difficult moments. This wonderful novel from bestselling author Mary Stewart is delicate in its perception of a young woman’s falling in love, delightful in its portrayal of the English countryside, and skilled in its creation of a world full of magic.

Amazon.com Review
This old-fashioned gothic romance is as good as they get. WhenGilly's witch aunt leaves Thornyhold to her, a house in the middle ofthe woods, Gilly finds that she has inherited far more than sherealized. Along with the house comes a cat, a still room filled withherbs (and a missing recipe book), an attic chamber with carrierpigeons (who have secret messages), and an attractive neighbor whoseyoung son offers the sacred and unique blessing of friendship. ButThornyhold possesses far more than even these simple offerings. Theplace itself seems to convoke otherworldly gifts as well: Gillycultivates the abilities to heal and to foresee the future once shemakes Thornyhold her home. (For those fans of DianaGabaldon's Outlander series, there is a Geilis the witch in thisbook, too.) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (27)

3-0 out of 5 stars Liked it, but could've been much better
This book was an enjoyable read, however I found the storyline to be lacking a bit and highly predictable.It was still a good read and I would recommend it, however, if you're expecting something thrilling and romantic this book is not for you.It's entertaining at most, but the ending was rushed, like the author had only ten minutes to pop out an ending.If she had taken her time to write a hearty ending, I would have given this book five stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars The sort of book you can curl up with and get lost in...
There are certain moments in nearly every Mary Stewart book where the author's descriptions of time and place truly resonate with the sensitive reader. You can feel the warmth of a summer day, smell an early morning or a rainfall, see the reflection of the moon on a starlit bay. What's more, you are transported into the life of the narrator: Your stomach tightens as Charity Selbourne flees her pursuer in "Madame, Will You Talk," or Linda Martin and her charge, Philippe, flee their imagined enemy in "Nine Coaches Waiting." Such is the case with "Thornyhold."

This is a book you can escape into, as it takes place a few years after World War II, when the world was on the precipice of a time of unbridled optimism and boundless change. But rural England was much the same as it had been 20 years before.

And that's the charm here: This is a story you get lost in, if only for a brief time. It is not as complex and layered as some of Stewart's books, but it is charming in a gentle way. As usual, Stewart's characters are deftly created.

The books gets off to a slow start, but it picks up once Gilly moves into her cousin's cottage. Stewart creates a vivid supporting cast, including an engaging young boy and a enigmatic cat.

If you are seeking a gentle respite from modern life and a story that calms you, read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Something a bit different from my favorite mystery writer.
This book is a bit different from my favorite mystery writer. I love Mary Stewart's books, and thought I had read most of them, if not all. This one has a little different feel to it. Enjoyed it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic for an earlier time?
Mary Stewart can take you there. But they were not necessarily simpler or less complicated times...

Thornyhold is less well known than Steward's tour-de-force Merlin/Arthurian novels, but still one of my favorites. Where many of her novels have modern (for the time) heroines, fighting villains in the form of thieves, murderers, selfish relatives, whatever, Gillie has less obvious battles to fight. Set in post-World War II England, where rationing still held sway and everyone knew their neighbors, Thornyhold is much like it's heroine: deep, introspective, self-depreciating, and ultimately, quietly triumphant -- much like their author.

If you are looking for excitement, battles, gunfights, and torrid love affairs, it isn't for you. But if you are looking for a truly brilliant example of character development, where gaining self knowledge is important...look into this gem.

5-0 out of 5 stars a lovely read
Thornyhold is a magical read for those of you who love a genteel cozy.If you would like to curl up and imagine yourself in a cozy cottage with a touch of mystery and witchcraft....brew yourself a cup of tea, grab a scone or some great chocolate and allow yourself to enter the cottage.There is a gentle romance, a mysterious cat, and chanting in the woods.If you like the type of book where you can practically see the lace tablecloth and imagine the china teapot this book is for you.My mother, my daughter and my best friend concur with me....this is the best book i have ever read!They don't write em like this anymore!!!
... Read more

7. The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1)
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 512 Pages (2003-05-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.12
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060548258
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess, Myridden Emrys -- or as he would later be known, Merlin -- leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man's-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon . . . and the conception of Arthur -- king for once and always.

Amazon.com Review
Initially published nearly thirty years ago, Mary Stewart'sThe Crystal Cave has been spellbinding readers and convertingthem into serious Arthurian buffs ever since. The first in a series offour books, this novel focuses on the early life of Merlin themagician, and the political developments of fifth-century Britain. Notfor the fainthearted, this verbose text pays careful attention tohistorical details and methodical plot development.

Merlin's childhood is formed by the absence of his reticent, convent-boundmother and his unnamed and unknown father. As the bastard grandson of alocal king, Merlin is the object of both envy and ridicule. His strangepowers and predictions earn him greater status as a pariah, and he leaveshome as a preadolescent. Returning years later as a young man--empoweredby self-knowledge and magic--Merlin finds himself caught in the currents ofthe shifting kingdoms.

As an established classic in this genre, and the first in a popular series,The Crystal Cave introduces this familiar character with freshsensitivity. While readers looking for the romance of FirstKnight will be disappointed, those happy with tight writing and acomplex story line will be satisfied. --Nancy R.E. O'Brien ... Read more

Customer Reviews (153)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mary Stewart's Vision
Merlin is a name that many people know, even if they've never read any tales that encompass the world of Arthurian legends.Here, we find Mary Stewart's vision of Merlin as child, boy and young man, before he became the legend, and becoming the legend.Tales of Kings, wars, secret loves, magic, and prophecy, fill the pages and bring Merlin and his world to life, in descriptive and expressive prose that transport the reader to a century long-past and a mythology that still captures the imagination.The Crystal Cave doesn't have the high speed pace or breath-taking suspense of a lot of modern fantasy novels.It has a story to tell and that story is about Merlin and the gradual awakening of his powers.Where his powers take him isn't always the place he wants to be, but he has little choice and does what he must, and very often the heart-break that comes with his decisions is what drives both him and his story.The ending is exciting, and so moving as to make me instantly want to reach for the next in the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Merlin "the Magician" Comes Alive
I first read this book as a junior high school student, not as a reading assignment, but by choice. My previous experience with the Merlin legend had been T.H. White's THE SWORD IN THE STONE, which I could never get into, and the Disney version of that book, which I found silly. I had also seen the 1950s King Arthur film (KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE) and found all the chivalry and "thees and thouing" quite dull, and John Boorman's EXCALIBUR, which was visually arresting, but in which Merlin was this rather creepy guy surrounded by snakes.

What a surprise then, to read this book and have the Arthurian legend come to life. It rang very true to me because Merlin was portrayed as a real person who experiences physical and emotional pain, lost love, and betrayal, not an overblown magician or cryptic sage. He endures a childhood where he is bullied by older children, despised for his scholarship, and ignored by his grandfather because he is illegitimate. Then one day, during a ride on his pony, he encounters the hermit Galapas, and is taught science and history--and even a little magic. It is in a crystal cave within Galapas' living space that he sees his first visions.

The narrative, by Merlin himself, is matter-of-fact yet beautifully descriptive of the Welsh countryside and the other places that Merlin eventually travels, and of the people he meets. Stewart introduces to fascinating supporting characters, from those based on real people, like Uther and Ambrosius, to those created for the story, such as Merlin's chatty nurse, Moravik, and his body servants, his mysterious and dangerous later tutor Belasius, his troubled mother, the obsessed King Vortigern, and more.

From the moment I open this book I am in a peat-smoke scented landscape, riding horseback on frosty moors, or experiencing the mystery of caves. This was a magical book to me at fourteen and remains one of my top ten favorite books.

4-0 out of 5 stars Arthurian saga true to the legend and good for all audiences
It's always fun to revisit the legend of King Arthur once and a while. This book, the Crystal Cave, is the first book in a trilogy that details the Arthurian events from the point of view of Merlin. What impressed me most of all about this book is the respect it had for the actual legend and in the fact that it is a book that can be enjoyed by all. Historical fiction in a sense, it nonetheless leaves the magical abilities of Merlin a little bit open ended. In my opinion, there has to be some magic involved with Merlin. In contrast, Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles was too strictly historical for my tastes. This book covers the history from the birth of Merlin to the conception of Arthur. The pace of the novel is consistently interesting and the overall story is more than satisfactorily handled. Minor criticisms would be that you can at times tell that the author is a woman. The result is that here and there Merlin comes across as a little too gentle in his POV. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon (which is an outstanding book) didn't have the same problem because its primary characters were women. Still, this is a very well done story from beginning to end. It puts you right in the time and place. Her descriptions of setting are excellent. I've already started reading book 2, The Hollow Hills.

3-0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed
This book was recommended to me by a friend who knew I loved reading about sci-fi and fantasy. I did completely read the book because I kept hoping it would get better.However, I must say that I was disappointed in the book.If you are looking for the "magical" part of Merlin -this is not your book.Oh, Merlin had visions and the gift of sight, but it seems he used his mind to make them come true.Like moving the stones was because he studied engineering and Uther begetting Arthur was deception not magical.I truely wanted the wizard part of Merlin to come to life.He was too human for my taste.When I read fantasy I want to get caught up in it.I never got caught up in it.

5-0 out of 5 stars The crystal cave
I LOVED THIS BOOK. Anyone who likes Merlin will love this book. This was my 1st Mary Stewart book. I have since read all four books. I thought the book was amazing. ... Read more

8. Nine Coaches Waiting
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 352 Pages (2006-05-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$4.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1556526180
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

A governess in a French château encounters an apparent plot against her young charge's life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel. When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Château Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe's uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda's innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count.
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Customer Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but a little less so on second reading many years later
I read - and loved - many of Mary Stewart's romantic suspense novels about 35 years ago when I was a teenager.I had forgotten about her until I came across "Nine Coaches Waiting" at a book sale, and snapped it up to read again.After that, I read "Thornyhold" for the first time.

She's a wonderful writer, and has a great ability to describe beautiful houses and the surrounding countryside in such mouthwatering detail that I immediately want to be transported there - preferably as the owner, not the governess!

Although NCW was very enjoyable this time around, I found it to be somewhat amateurish when I read it through the prism of my own life experience (and lifetime of reading other novels, which I didn't have when I first read it).

Some spoilers may follow but they're minor.

There was a plot twist in which the family doesn't know that Our Heroine (OH) speaks fluent French.Unfortunately, this never comes into play in any meaningful way.Early on, the husband says something to the wife in French, one sentence, which OH hears and understands.But this sentence is really a throwaway line and doesn't advance the plot.Then, for no apparent reason, we are told in the middle of the book that probably the husband has most likely figured out that she speaks French.We're not told WHY or HOW he could have figured it out - but the plot device is dropped after that, and this whole "she's really French but they think she's English" angle doesn't matter after all.

One plot device which gets a bit tired and is not credible:in both "Nine Coaches Waiting" and "Thornyhold" OH falls madly in love with a man after spending less than a day in his company.Just - not believable.Especially considering that in both novels, OH has very little life experience and is most likely - dare I say it? - a virgin.Sure, such women have mad crushes but - they don't usually turn into deep love, as we're expected to believe they do here.And, the male characters seem a bit impenetrable - they are of course madly attractive but - not fully fleshed out.

One problem with the first person narrative of Mary Stewart's books is that we only see things through OH's eyes.While that's fine, it means we never really see OH - the most important character in the book - through anyone else's eyes.this doesn't have to be the drawback that it seems to be in her novels ... if you really devote time to fleshing out the other characters' personalities, or put words in their mouths that show how they feel about OH -and why.Ms. Stewart skimps on this a bit.

Ms. Stewart is also extremely Victorian, for lack of a better word, in her approach to romance.I mean, we don't even get to see the main romantic characters KISS!He grabs her, then we fade to black (virtually) and only fade back in after the romantic action, wiith a line such as "...when I could breathe a few minutes later..." I mean, surely she could have given us a bit more payoff without even coming close to being prurient!

I've been nitpicking in this review, and you might be wondering why I gave the book four stars.Well as I said in the beginning, she's a really wonderful writer, and every scene holds your interest, despite the drawbacks mentioned above.There are many pages of truly thrilling suspense in this novel, all of it credibly written.Refreshingly, none of it involves the sort of stupid gunfight scenes that pass for suspense in the movies today...

4-0 out of 5 stars A suspense thriller with a touch of Cinderella
Linda Martin, a young Englishwoman with no family, takes a position as a governess to a young boy who is living with his uncle and aunt on the estate he will inherit. Linda is desperate to get out of her current situation, so she hides the fact that she grew up in France and can speak fluent French. She finds the uncle to be a charismatic but imposing figure, even though he is confined to a wheelchair, he is a powerful man. Things start to become unusual when "accidents" occur that could have killed Phillipe. To make matters more interesting, the uncle's's son, Raoul comes to the chateau and is a younger, dashing version of his father. Linda begins to suspect that someone is trying to kill Phillipe and she must find a way to save him, even if it means giving up the man she loves.This was a well paced romance/thriller and I found it to be engaging.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Best Romantic Mystery Ever Written
This is The Book for me.If you only read one romantic mystery your whole life -- skip Jane Eyre and Rebecca -- read this one!From the first pages where the lonely but determined young woman (with the wry sense of self-deprecating humor) grabs your heart to the final pages where the young man "who was raised in a house that was not for children" chases her down (literally), it is as fine a work of literature as you will ever read.Mary Stewart comes out of the old days of classical liberal arts education, where poetry was essential and Shakespeare mattered.Her writing reflects this -- with an artist's' eye for detail and a hiker's love of nature and topography.As "Linda" arrives in 1950's France, so do we.Ah, l'amour!

5-0 out of 5 stars Angieville: NINE COACHES WAITING
I guess mysteries have always been a part of my life. Ever since my mom handed me that first Nancy Drew--The Hidden Staircase--that thirst for the clues, the search, the not knowing has stuck with me. That, combined with the fact that they are very nostalgic for me, and you get to read about a lot of them. Mary Stewart is my very favorite when it comes to romantic suspense and her many mysteries are serial re-reads for me. In the best of times and the worst of times, she comes through with an unrivaled spirit of adventure, panache, and wanderlust. I will forever have my mom to thank for finding her first Mary Stewart in a small town library when she was in high school, painstakingly collecting lovely used copies over the years, and reading them over and over again so that one day I would grow up and want to do the same. If you ask my mom which one is her favorite she'll probably tell you Airs Above the Ground. It takes place in her beloved Austrian Alps and features a dangerous fire, a missing husband, and a legendary horse. It's definitely the one I saw her re-reading most often. If you ask me, I get "that look" on my face and dither around about the virtues of this one and that one. Which is exactly what I did trying to decide which one to post on today. I ended up with NINE COACHES WAITING because it may be the most potent combination of every element I love about Ms. Stewart's novels. It's certainly one of the ones I re-read most often.

Belinda Martin (Linda for short--or for pretty, as her mother used to say) lands in Paris on a cold, gray, and rainy day. She is on her way to her brand new post as a governess to the young Count Philippe de Valmy. Having lost both his parents in a tragic accident, the nine-year-old little boy lives with his aunt and uncle in the vast and ornate Château Valmy in the French countryside. Léon de Valmy, Philippe's uncle, runs the estate on behalf of his underage nephew until he comes of age and arranged for a proper English governess for his charge. When Linda arrives at the imposing manor, she is at once enchanted by its beauty and history, but is also immediately struck by the sense of menace and doom surrounding the land and its inhabitants. Léon is a charismatic force of nature and quite charming with it, and when Linda meets his reckless and rakishly handsome son Raoul, she understands a bit more about the Valmy heritage and what makes this family tick. As she becomes closer to Philippe and Raoul, Linda draws ever nearer to putting her finger on the source of the threat. But the layers of danger and darkness run deeper than any of them guessed and she may not be able to trust those she wants to, no matter how innocent or attractive they may seem. Soon it is up to the shy young governess to beat the clock in order to save Philippe's life as well as her own.

This is the kind of heady, romantic, foreboding tale that wraps you up in its elegant wings and carries you off for parts unknown. Linda is immediately sympathetic, with her loneliness wrapped around her like a threadbare cloak, her fierce protectiveness of Philippe, and the way she verbally spars with Léon de Valmy and manages to emerge unscathed. She is what this darkly glorious place needs and there are wonderful little touches here and there of the Jane Eyre and Rebecca about this novel. And the entire story winds on in that delicious vein. The exquisite suspense lingers to the very last and the relationships between the characters are real, romantic, and wholly delightful. Every time I read it I fall in love all over again with lovely Linda, dangerous Raoul, adorable Philippe, and beautiful, haunting Valmy. And I get chills at the same parts every time single time. NINE COACHES WAITING showcases a master storyteller at her very best. Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing
On the back cover of the book, the publisher categorizes it as "Romance/Suspense/Literature"; after reading it I have to agree it is indeed all three, and that Mary Stewart has melded all of these together in a way that few writers can.

This is romance in the "old style", which is the way I like best; no graphic sex scenes, in fact no graphic details at all.And yet Stewart manages to conjure all the emotions that come with falling in love.Every time Raoul appeared my heart started racing!No modern writer can top that, no matter how titillating they try to be.

And thanks to Mary Stewart's remarkable use of language, this book is "literature" as well.Her style of writing is so evocative and lyrical that it is almost poetic.Her characters' manner of speaking is slightly dated, but is still remarkably readable, especially considering that this book was written over 50 years ago.

The "suspense" is the weakest element of this book, which is why I am giving it 4 stars rather than 5.The identity and motive of the culprits are obvious right from the start, the plot is unoriginal, and there are no surprises along the way.Stewart includes many small elements and issues that could have been developed further to make the plot more intriguing and engrossing, and indeed, in every case I was led to believe they were going to become significant parts of the story.But Stewart just leaves them and moves on without ever mentioning them again, which made me wonder why she even included these little tidbits at all?Although Stewart does try to throw out a red herring about 3/4 of the way through and get the reader off on a different track, it is weak and not very convincing.The plot and outcome are just as the reader predicted by the end of chapter 2 or 3.

Nevertheless, Stewart does create some gripping passages that will keep you turning the pages and unable to put the book down.Linda's flight with Philippe was one of the best parts of the book, and Stewart managed to sustain the suspense and tension not just for a paragraph or a page, but for several chapters.

All in all this is a very enjoyable read.A sympathetic heroine in an exotic and romantic locale, with a handsome heartthrob and a smidgeon of suspense thrown in -- what's not to like?!I look forward to reading more of Mary Stewart's work.Probably not her Merlin books, since I'm not into Arthurian stuff, but I will definitely give more of her romantic suspense works a try. ... Read more

9. The Last Enchantment (The Arthurian Saga, Book 3)
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 513 Pages (2003-05-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$8.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060548274
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Arthur Pendragon is King! Unchallenged on the battlefield, he melds the country together in a time of promise. But sinister powers plot to destroy Camelot, and when the witch-queen Morgause -- Arthur's own half sister -- ensnares him in an incestuous liaison, a fatal web of love, betrayal, and bloody vengeance is woven.

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Customer Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Arthurian legend almost resolved (highlights)
This final entry of Mary Stewart's Merlin series is a bit more cerebral than its two predecessors -- but the tale is artfully conveyed and it brings a nice semi-closure to the Arthurian legend. I say "semi-" because Mary Stewart (born in 1916 and now in her 90s!) subsequently published two more books which deal with this topic: The Wicked Day (The Arthurian Saga, Book 4) (1983) and The Prince and the Pilgrim (Classics of Arthurian Legend) (1995.)

This is my second reading of Stewart's Merlin books - I first devoured these terrific tales as they were initially published, the last of the trilogy appearing in 1979. To describe the action in book three of a trilogy is certain to generate some spoilers -- I'll attempt to minimize those impacts here by remaining necessarily vague on details.

THE STORY: There are two converging stories here. The first focuses upon the late-period travels and activities of the renowned Enchanter and Arthur's mentor (and cousin), Merlin. The second is, of course, an account of life and wars throughout post-Roman England and Wales under Arthurian rule. Both men run into dilemmas which, at first, typically seem irresolvable... but with Merlin's aid, and that of his new apprentice and other loyalists, most of these difficulties blossom with resolutions unanticipated by the reader.

This book stands entirely on its own as do the other two trilogy entries but it's folly to not read all three, in order. The first two include The Crystal Cave : Book One of the Arthurian Saga (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1) and The Hollow Hills (The Arthurian Saga, Book 2). Consistent with the first two books, the final title content plays down the magical facets of Merlin's abilities although there is more sorcery to be found in here than one encounters in the preceding two works.

In summary, this semi-fantasy, semi-historical book garners my highest recommendation for a broad spectrum of readers. This is English literature at its finest and since the respective eras of Kipling (Puck of Pook's Hill (Illustrated Edition) (Dodo Press)); Peake, (The Gormenghast Novels), and; Tolkien (J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Great Find
I was at a garage sale last summer and picked up this book as well as the first two in the series, The Crystal Cave and The Hollow Hills.My only previous experience with Arthurian legend, was Disney's The Sword and The Stone when I was little, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

The series is told from Merlin's point of view from the time he was a child until he his older and his powers have started to fade.In this book, Merlin is dealing with the fading of his powers and Arthur is at Camelot and a grown man.

Mary Stewart puts greatly detailed descriptions of the characters and the scenery into the book which causes it to be slower moving than some other novels, but still enjoyable.I like that she includes the Legend at the back of the book so you can see the basis for the novel.The only thing that I didn't really enjoy was Merlin's love affair.I thought it was a bit creepy since he was so much older than the woman.
Overall, this was an excellent read and I plan to read more Arthurian novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars The last enchantment
I don't think this book was quite as good as the last one but it was still very good. I liked that he finally got a "student".

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
Mary Stewart's rendition of this legend is my favorite by far.I take the time to read the set every year.Wore my old copy out.Thanks seller for the great experience.

3-0 out of 5 stars Merlin and Arthur lovers...
Anybody who loves tales of Merlin and King Arthur will love this book!This is the third book in Mary Stewart's Arthurian Saga, written from the viewpoint of Merlin, it tells the tale of how Arthur came to be the legend that everyone has heard of.

Unlike many tales of Merlin it is not a fairy tale of unbelievable magic rather it is a brilliantly written story of a man who is extremely powerful, intelligent and gifted, who has a vision of a united Britain and has found the one person who can fulfill this dream, Arthur.

Based on the Legend of Arthur it is rich in detail both of character and landscape, and genuinely takes the reader back in time to the days of chivalry and Camelot! ... Read more

10. Airs Above the Ground
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.09
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 006074748X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Vanessa March never thought to look for her missing husband in Vienna -- until she saw him in a newsreel shot there at the scene of a deadly fire. But her hunt for answers only leads to more sinister questions in a mysterious world of beautiful horses.

And what waits for Vanessa in the shadows is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.

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Customer Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars Airs above the Ground by Mary Stewart
The book was in excellent condition and was mailed in a timely manner.In fact, It arrived before I expected it.There was a handwritten "thank you" note included on the invoice. Nice personal touch.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not quite as suspenseful as some of her other books
When Vanessa March is offered the chance to chaperone a teenage boy to Vienna, she nearly says no--until she sees her husband in a newsreel, filmed at the scene of a circus fire near Vienna. In addition, he's in the company of a very pretty blonde... Vanessa's travels to Vienna lead her in the way of the Spanish Riding School, circuses, and a mystery that brings mystery--as well as, of course, a touch of romance.

This is one of Stewart's less romantic novels, mostly because the heroine is already married to the hero and you more or less know that they'll end up together. There's also a bit less suspense, though there's a chase scene up on the battlements of the castle that's written in classic Mary Stewart style. The mystery itself also isn't all that compelling, as it's been done many times before.

What I do love about Mary Stewart's novels is the locations she chooses to set her novels in--and she does a pretty fine job of researching her settings, too. This book makes me want to book a flight to Vienna ASAP! Her descriptions of the "airs above the ground" are excellent, too. (Vanessa is a former veterinarian, so her interest in the horses of the story stems from that). The characters are all very well formed, though I thought that Tim was a little too mature for a seventeen-year-old! Nonetheless, this novel is a lot of fun--though if you're new to Mary Stewart's novels, I'd suggest starting with one of her others (Nine coaches Waiting and Madam, Will You Talk? come highly recommended by me).

5-0 out of 5 stars Smart, suspenseful, moving
Airs Above The Ground is one of Mary Stewart's best and is well worth reading for several reasons.Ms. Stewart's heyday was in the 1960s, yet her heroines were all take charge types with careers.In this book, Vanessa March is a veterinarian though she stopped practicing when she married Lewis.The plot requires her expertise and it is the reason for the best part of the book, the story of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna and its Lippizaner stallions. There is a wealth of fascinating information in this book, though it's well integrated into an exciting story and never reads like a history lesson.Ms. Stewart's description of the 'airs above the ground' in which the horses perform incredibly difficult dance-like moves in perfect precision to music is worth picking up the book alone, and she makes the horses' performances sound magical--which of course, they are.

There's plenty of action in this one; there's a thrilling moonlit chase over and through a castle, a race with a train, and a parrot who says rude things.There's a circus and a mystery and romance, and horses.As always, Ms. Stewart writes smart, for educated people.Each chapter begins with a classical quotation that relates to its contents, and there are plenty of cultural allusions, like when the charming young man Vanessa is escorting to meet his father in Vienna refers to a circus performer as the 'Hungarian Rhapsody'.

I've been revisiting a lot of the books I read from when I first ventured out of the children's section of the library. Mary Stewart was one of the first 'grown up' authors I discovered and I devoured every one of her books I could find.How disappointed I was to find that not every book was as exciting or as well written as Ms. Stewart's and how thrilled I am to find that they are just as wonderful in 2010 as they were in 1970.

5-0 out of 5 stars Lippizans and Mystery
I'm one of those people who fell in love with horses as a child and never got over it.Since I don't have one, I have to get my fill in other ways. I first read Airs About the Ground about 25 years ago.Almost immediately, it became one of my favorite books.

However, don't let the fact that I'm a horsey person keep you from reading this book.Like most Mary Stewart books, it has fully fleshed-out characters that you can like, a good mystery, romance, and a satisfying ending.It's a fast read, and good for curling up with after a long day, and forget about what the boss said today.

And the Lippizans?Read the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars Middling...
Vanessa March is angry with her husband Lewis.He had promised her a holiday through Europe.But then, as she was getting ready, he drops a bomb: he has to fly alone to Stockholm for business.Alone in London, she visits an obnoxious "friend."This friend has a seventeen-year-old son who wants to see his father in Vienna.Could Vanessa fly with Tim to Vienna?Of course not!But then Vanessa spots Lewis on a newsreel.There had been a fire in a caravan at a traveling circus near Vienna of all places, and Tim was there among the shocked spectators.But that's not all.A beautiful blonde was with him.Well...what do you think she does next?With a backdrop of the Austrian alps, beautiful performing horses, government espionage, and gothic and magic atmosphere, Vanessa and Tim uncover shocking things about her husband, the traveling circus and a celebrity horse whose "Airs Above the Ground" performance is legendary, as well as the circumstances that bring him to the circus...

I hate to be one of the people to burst the five-star review bubble.Airs Above the Ground isn't terrible, but it isn't the best effort either.Granted, there are some impressive twists and turns, especially the one about halfway through the story and, of course, the ending.But the novel is somewhat boring for the most part and the author takes too long to draw her conclusions.I do like the way Tim describes the different kinds of horses and the backdrop of Austria gives the novel a beautiful and eery atmosphere.Mary Stewart has written some great books.I loved Nine Coaches Waiting and was crazy about The Ivy Tree and Madam, Will You Talk?This one, however, is middling at best.Still, it is better than most if not all romantic suspense novels written today.Romantic suspense penned by the likes of Julie Garwood and Judith McNaught lack originality and seem to be targeted to people with a fourth grade reading level.As for this one, it could be a hit or a miss.It's up to you to decide which one it is.But to me, it's kind of a tossup. ... Read more

11. This Rough Magic
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060747471
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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British actress Lucy Waring believes there is no finer place to be "at liberty" than the sun-drenched isle of Corfu, the alleged locale for Shakespeare's The Tempest. Even the suspicious actions of the handsome, arrogant son of a famous actor cannot dampen her enthusiasm for this wonderland in the Ionian Sea.

Then a human corpse is carried ashore on the incoming tide ...

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Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another terrific tale of suspense from one of the genre's mistresses!
The title is taken from Shakespeare's play `The Tempest', and lays the groundwork for an intelligently entertaining blend of 16th century drama and modern day mystery.

The setting is Corfu , a tiny Greek island rumored to be the playwright's inspiration for the famous play, and the protagonist is Lucy Waring, an actress between jobs who comes to stay with her pregnant sister Phyllida while the latter's husband is traveling.The luxurious setting - a cluster of cliffside villas surrounded by the azure seas of the Greek islands - is the first hook, and a well-orchestrated suspense tale takes the reader on a fun ride through history, Greek culture and a bit of obscure, largely forgotten politics.When a young Greek boy from the island is thought be lost at sea and a local smuggler's corpse is washed up on the pristine beach, Lucy realizes that a few things don't quite jive and decides to find out a little more on her own.

Mary Stewart is best known for her award-winning Arthurian series that began with The Crystal Cave, but the dozens of mysteries and suspense novels she wrote are of much more appeal to me personally.I was thrilled when an imprint of Harper Collins decided to reprint most of them and have really enjoyed reading through them again, as well as discovering some I hadn't known about.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
This is one of my favorite books of all time.I have read it over and over.I highly recommend it!!

5-0 out of 5 stars This Rough Magic
If you appreciate an 'old fashioned' tale free of graphic intimacy and violence, if you appreciate vivid description, romance and intrigue this is for you.I read all but one of Mary Stewart's books in my early twenty's through late thirties.Now, nearing seventy, I am rereading them and cherishing the stories I read in my young years.I have divested myself of hundreds of books.Mary Stewart's remain a constant.Though I prefer some over others "This Rough Magic" is a favorite.It tells of a young woman needing employment with limited accomplishments.She becomes governess and, of course, falls in love with one of the family members who own an estate."Jane Eyre" is actually used in comparison within the story.Fun reading...

4-0 out of 5 stars Fun and suspenseful mystery (even for blokes...)
Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic, published in 1962, tells the story of Lucy Waring, an out-of-work actress. Killing time after her last show abruptly closed, she decides to visit her pregnant sister on the beautiful island of Corfu. She soon learns that the island is swarming with mysterious characters - including a legendary actor, his composer son, a toff-stroke-photographer, a friendly dolphin and a host of naive natives.

Although I knew this was going to be a mystery (bloodshed - huzzah!), I approached the book with trepidation. As much as I like John Fowles, I'm certainly not up to re-reading The Magus during rush hour. Similarly, the cover hinted toward some sort of neo-Gothic monstrosity - dispossessed noblemen and philosopher-heiresses dash around quoting poetry and invariably becoming trapped in the bell-tower.

My worries grew - and I'm sorry to confess this, as it only reflects badly on me - when I discovered it was written in the first person. Not only, I worried, would I have to read about the insecurities of some vapid philosopher/poetry-quoter, I was actually being assigned to empathize with her. (Kind of like I've being doing with the post so far - get it?)

The book quickly put all my fears to rest. By the end of the first chapter, I was very happy seeing the world through Lucy Waring's eyes. I think the ultimate bonding occurred when she confessed that she really wasn't a very good actress - at that point I knew that this wasn't going to feature some sort of plot-swept, wind-swept Gothic heroine, but actually a very good yarn, with a very, enjoyable, human narrator.

As a thriller, the danger is small-scale and intimate, but no less suspenseful for it. Although a vague Communist threat is presented, explained and promptly ignored, Lucy and her friends' efforts to fight the forces of evil are much more personal. The murders, even of strangers, are acutely felt, and Lucy's reaction to them (no fainting, just steely resolve) helps make them more real.

There are a few notable concessions to genre conventions.All the members of the opposite sex on the island are, of course, very attractive. Corfu is swarming with handsome young men, all of whom find Lucy irresistible.

Also, as with any good internationally-placed thriller, the natives have very little to do with anything. The Greek people come across as generous and naive, but not very bright. Most of them are possessed with typical peasant mojo - they're able to repair a car, but not drive one. And, of course, they're completely incapable of solving a crime (or even noticing one). Thank god for the British, eh?

These concessions to conventions are balanced out by a few deliberate attempts at subversion as well. One exceptional moment has Lucy captured by the enemy. Although fiercely intelligent, she acts the stupid little ingenue in order to wiggle her way out of the situation (all the while looking for a serviceable weapon). It is especially entertaining given the immense vanity of the villain - who strikes me as a pretty good imitation of the typical Sixties pulp hero. As much as I like Shell Scott and Chester Drum (and James Bond, for that matter), it does raise the question, 'How many of those women would rather just be hitting you over the head right now?'.

After some commutes filled with truly horrific fiction, I was starting to dread the morning train. This Rough Magic, however, arrived just in time to restored my faith in cheap fiction. Fortunately, it isn't my place (or my goal) to do a deep and insightful analysis of gender roles. Instead, I'm just happy that I finally got a decent book to read on the tube.

3-0 out of 5 stars All right, not great
Having read Stewart's Arthurian saga, and thoroughly enjoyed and admired them, I was a bit disappointed in this book. It is an adventure and mystery novel, with no real magic in it (as exists with Merlin and The Crystal Cave and the rest). I found her writing amateur and struggling, not the masterful work she put forth in the Arthurian saga books.

I could picture something of Corfu, and I substituted Ian McKellen for Sir Julian Gale (this was a good character). I liked her descriptions of the old houses and the hidden cellars and passages, the rich rose garden, the dolphin element, but for the most part it felt like a setting, and the characters worked to move the plot along.

However, I was touched by some bits of the romance, the tension of the mystery, and the fear of what-if towards the end. ... Read more

12. Wildfire at Midnight
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2003-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060093579
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Beautiful but troubled, Gianetta cannot seem to escape her past, her pain, or her ex-husband -- not even in a remote hotel on the Scottish Isle of Skye. One of her fellow guests, however, is also hiding secrets . . . and a skill and penchant for murder.

And now the killer only has eyes for Gianetta . . .

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Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Loved "Wildfire at Midnight"!!!
Wildfire at Midnight is the first book I have read by this author "Mary Stewart", she is a Fantastic storyteller.This story had me hanging on the edge of my seat and voicing out loud "Run..Run..Run" several times to the character "Gianetta".I have always loved Alfred Hitchcock movies full of drama and suspense, hang on to your seat type plots; this story is very much like that.I have ordered several more books by this author, she is fantastic.I highly recommend this book - It is Wonderful!

2-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I don't often read fiction, but I like Mary Stewart as a writer and have enjoyed some of her books in the past. Very descriptive, she has a way with words that can easily draw you into the world she's creating. However I found this book I bit of a disappointment. Born in 1916/18 the author was an english professor when it wasn't a very common job for a woman. To be in that position, you would think she would give her heroines more interest and intelligence then the average romance novel. Wrong. This heroine is not only unethical, but also fairly inept, helpless and vaguely irritating. The villan is also pretty unconvincing in his switch from completly normal side character to raving psychopath.

I gave up on this novel pretty early in the piece but then ended up finishing it out of unforseen boredom. I wouldn't recommend it unless you really think that being female and this silly is a valid approach to life. The main character is a model, but it doesn't excuse her and the book overall doesn't do anything except enforce sterotypes and create a pointless, gory murder scenerio in my opinion.

2 stars only for the skill of the writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Country house mystery with some nice twists
It's amazing how well Mary Stewart's books have held up.Her heroines are always smart, courageous and no shrinking violets, her plots carefully crafted and her descriptions so vivid you can smell the heather.

Wildfire At Midnight was first published in 1956, and is a classic example of the British country house murder mystery even though it's set in Scotland.Though the heroine has fled all the Coronation festivities in London to have a restful vacation in Scotland, she's inadvertently chosen a locale where not only had there been a vicious murder the week before, her writer ex-husband is also a guest. During the few days of the story, not only is someone else murdered, our heroine becomes reacquainted with her ex.Gianetta is not at all a 1950's archetype in the manner of one of Barbara Cartland's or Elizabeth Cadell's characters.She's matured since her divorce and though she goes through some very understandable angstyness when her path crosses Nicholas's and discovers he may be a murderer.When they do reconnect, it's on her own terms and she maintains her hard-won confidence.

The supporting characters are vivid and fresh; the downtrodden wife married to the hunky husband, the flamboyant actress, the odd trio of schoolteachers and the gruff old Scots retainer.Of course, being in Scotland, everyone is mad for fishing and Ms. Stewart who one gathers doesn't share that passion, writes of it with humor and understanding.

This is a gem well worth reading or rereading!

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent (4.5 stars)
Mary Stewart's novels are always good comfort reads. There's definitely a formula to them--they always take place in an exotic location, and feature a smart, somewhat skeptical heroince (who's usually in her mid to late twenties). Throw in some romance and suspense, and you have the recipe for a really fun, atmospheric read. Wildfire at Midnight is no exception to this.

Giannetta Drury is a model, who decides to take a break from London to visit the Island of Skye, up in the Hebrides. She stays at a local hotel, but is perturbed when her ex husband, Nicholas, is also one of the guests there--ouch, how awkward! As Giannetta becomes more familiar with the other guests at the hotel, she learns the story of the murder of a young local girl, whose throat was brutally cut. But as events unfold, it turns out that the murderer hasn't yet finished their work...

Wildfire at Midnight is more of a mystery than some of Mary Stewart's other books, and the suspense is right up there as some of the best that she's ever offered. There are several truly bone-chilling scenes in this novel, especially the one in the fog towards the end! I feel that character development is weaker here (for example, I felt that Dougal Macrae seemed rather undisturbed by the murder of his daughter, two and a half weeks prior to the events in the book). But I enjoyed the romance aspect--it's there all along, though Giannetta doesn't realize it until the end. Giannetta also seems to be less skeptical than some of Stewart's other heroines, but that more or less works in her favor this time. Again, another strong novel from Mary Stewart.

4-0 out of 5 stars nice suspence, beautifully written
Wildfire at Midnight is a nicely-done suspense story about a beautiful fashion model who, wanting a rest from the stress of her job and the hustle and bustle of London, decides to take a vacation in the very remote Isle of Skye region of Scotland.Little does she know that it will be anything but relaxing;she steps into a situation rife with tension, as a murder has occurred just prior to her arrival, and the investigation is still ongoing; thus every man staying at her hotel (one of whom just happens to be her ex-husband) is a suspect.Adding to the tension are the undercurrents between various men and women staying at the hotel, Gianetta's dismay at seeing her ex again after four years, and the additional murders that occur while she is there.

The suspense in this book is nicely done, if somewhat mild.That is, it is far from obvious at the outset who the murderer is.However, by the time the culprit is revealed it isn't at all surprising, due to the clues that Stewart has dropped along the way.I call the suspense mild because the revelation of the murderer lacks the shock value of, say, some of Mary Higgins Clark's early works (not her later works which are totally lame).However, Mary Stewart is a different kind of suspense writer; hers is a blend of suspense, literature (which is very well done, as her prose is lyrical) and romance (which is a little weak in this particular book).

This book, as all of Stewart's that I've read so far, is somewhat dated: the constant smoking, for instance.Also, some of the slang and cultural references in the characters' dialogue is a little puzzling; I'm sure it was crystal clear to a 1950s British reader, but it's foreign to a 21st century reader in California.Nevertheless, Stewart's writing is good enough that it is still highly readable today.In fact, I find the dated quality of her books somewhat charming.

This book is not a keeper for me, because I will not read it again.Not because there is anything wrong with it, but because once I know whodunit, why would I want to ever re-read it?But if you like suspense stories that are a beautiful blend of mystery and literature and that transport you to another time and place, this one is for you. ... Read more

13. Rose Cottage: A Novel
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 272 Pages (1998-09-28)
list price: US$6.99 -- used & new: US$22.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449000613
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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At the request of her beloved grandmother, war widow Kate Herrick returns to the idyllic English countryside and the tiny thatched dwelling of her childhood, Rose Cottage, where she must retrieve some valuable papers hidden in a secret safe. Yet Kate is intrigued to discover the mysterious documents have been stolen.

While eccentric villagers buzz with sightings of strange lights and ghostly apparitions around Rose Cottage, Kate uncovers a web of family resentment, jealousy, and revenge as tangled as the rambling vines in its garden. The twisted trail leads to a stunning revelation that opens the door to her own shrouded past--and an unexpected chance at love. . . .
Amazon.com Review
Mary Stewart launched a world full of romance readers, and sheinvented romantic suspense. In this beautifully written gothic, KateHerrick, a young widow in war-torn London, returns to her family homeof Rose Cottage to retrieve family mementos for her Gran. When Katearrives, she finds that the mementos have mysteriouslydisappeared. While looking for answers to age-old family mysteries(her single mother supposedly ran off with gypsies) Kate rekindlesfriendships with neighbors, kinsman, and old childhood companions. Thebittersweet memories that Kate examines help her to redefine herselfas a widow and as a young woman with a great need for family ties. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

4-0 out of 5 stars Gentle and very sweet story
When Kate returns to her childhood home to pack up her grandmother's belongings, she becomes reacquainted with the tiny village's inhabitants and finds out where she really belongs.Unlike most of Ms. Stewart's oevre, there's no heart pounding suspense, no midnight chases, no exotic locations. That's fine. Mary Stewart's ability to make her setting and characters live on the page make Rose Cottage a page turner even without murder and mayhem.

For twenty years, Kate believed her mother died in a bus crash in Ireland.Raised by her grandparents and, after her grandfather's death, a Bible-thumping great aunt, Kate married during WWII and lost her pilot husband at Pas de Calais after only five weeks.Her husband had no family, and Kate's sole relative was her beloved grandmother, who is moving to Scotland.Lonely and just beyond grief for her husband, Kate feels a tremendous gulf between her life in the village and her life in London.When her grandmother asks her to return to Rose Cottage, Kate does so out of a sense of duty, but events and people show her that she's not as alone as she assumed.

Rose Cottage is charming.As in all Ms. Stewart's books, the characters are nice people you'd like to know and they all wish Kate well.So does the reader.If there's a little too much coincidence in the form of a character from Kate's long-ago past who happens to put in an appearance at exactly the right time, that's just fine.It makes for a wonderful story in the category of feel-good comfort read.The happy ending is icing on the cake.

4-0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful and atmospheric like only Stewart could write...
The year is 1947.Kate Herrick is a young World War II widow.She barely knew her husband, but that hasn't stopped others from paying their respects.She has sought a new life in London.But then her grandmother calls one day.Could Kate go to the Rose Cottage and retrieve some papers?Kate remembers the Rose Cottage.It is one of the cottages at the English estate where her grandparents and aunt worked as servants.The Brandons, the estate owners, have always trusted her grandmother and have let her keep the cottage.Now Gran is in the hospital, nothing serious, or so she says, but is adamant about getting some documents from the cottage.There is just one problem: the documents are missing.The search for those papers unveils a web of lies, secrets, and all of sorts of sinister twists that Kate could have never envisaged.At least there is tall and handsome Davey to help her uncover the mysteries around her...

Published in 1997, this is one of Mary Stewart's final efforts.The Rose Cottage isn't quite as good as The Ivy Tree or Nine Coaches Waiting, but it is a wonderful romantic suspense novel full of the atmospheric gothic elements that I enjoy and that could be expected from this author.It is a fast read, in first-person narrative and good historical aspects centered on post-war England.The secondary characters are great.The heroine is Stewart's special brand of courageous and naïve found in all of the novels I've read so far.Davey is also Stewart's standard alpha male.The twists and turns are well woven and developed -- better than most romantic suspense novels written by today's authors.All in all, The Rose Cottage is an enjoyable read.However, I'll stick to Stewart's older efforts from now on.I still have My Brother Michael and look forward to reading it soon.

1-0 out of 5 stars Starts well, keeps you happy about 1/2 way through, then fizzles out to an premature and abrupt end.
I was enjoying the book quite well, though as another reviewer mentioned, it does seem to plod along at times, and then the ending just... ends.It left me hanging, seemingly in mid paragraph, wondering what happened.I hate it when novels do that.If I wanted an unfinished ending I'd just look around at life's reality.Books are supposed to at least try to tie up the loose ends.Ah well... if you're one of those folks who like having a story end in mid sentence with none of the mysteries resolved, you'll love this one. (Humph.)

3-0 out of 5 stars Rose Cottage
This book is not nearly as good as Mary Stewart's earlier works, but it is a lovely little story to read by the fireside with a glass of wine on a cold winter's night!Pleasant.

3-0 out of 5 stars MILDLY SUSPENSEFUL...
This is a mildly suspenseful, atmospheric novel about a young, war widow, Kate Herrick, who in 1947 at the request of her ill grandmother in Scotland goes to Rose Cottage, her childhood home in the English countryside. Kate is to retrieve some of her grandmother's documents and personal belongings. When she gets there, however, she discovers that she is too late. Someone has been there before her.

As Kate investigates the mysterious disappearance of her grandmother's property, she ends up discovering somethings about her own past. Well written and redolent of a bygone era, the book unravels a pleasant, uncomplicated story. Never too mysterious and not one of the author's best efforts, the book is a predictable, though somewhat enjoyable, read. ... Read more

14. Thunder on the Right
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 352 Pages (2004-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060747463
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Artist Jennifer Silver has come to the picturesque, secluded Valley of the Storms in the French Pyrenees to meet with a young cousin who is about to enter the convent there -- only to discover that the young woman has died in a dreadful car accident. Or did she?

Lies abound in this strange and frightening place, but seeking the truth could lead Jennifer to her own violent death.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars too short
I've found I just want MORE from Mary Stewart. Just having discovered her early books I'm enthralled.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This is a very good book.I got it in like new condition.The book itself is a great story with suspense, mystery, and romance all in one.

4-0 out of 5 stars Intense gothic suspense...
Jennifer Silver is a twenty-two-year-old, somewhat reclusive Oxford-bred woman (daughter of a distinguished professor) looking forward to her trip to the Southwest of France.She looks forward to a nice holiday, but she is also there to visit her cousin Gillian, a woman who is about to take her religious vows at a convent.Of course, everything goes wrong.For one thing, Jennifer is told that Gillian is dead, buried within the convent's grounds.This strange and unexpected news doesn't feel right in more ways than one.Things just don't add up.Is Gillian even dead?She will not leave the haunting convent until she uncovers the truth.In the meantime, there's Stephen, a brooding former student of her father's, a brilliant musician with some unresolved issues of his own...

At first, I had my doubts about Thunder on the Right.After all, it is Stewart's first romantic suspense novel I read with a third-person narrative.Her first-person novels are very well written and it took me a while to get used to this new and unexpected format.To be honest, it had a somewhat slow beginning.However, the more I read, the more I couldn't put it down.Mary Stewart is a great writer, regardless of the narrative style, period.There are many surprises, many twists, and Stewart adds her signature flavor to it all.As with the other novels, there is some romance in this, but, like all other novels I've read, it is not the central storyline.Romance takes a back seat every time in her stories in favor of the suspense and gothic atmosphere, something I love about this author.I very much enjoyed Thunder on the Right.This is one of Stewart's more underrated efforts, a sad thing, for I found it just as intriguing as her other books.Well, maybe not as good as The Ivy Tree or Madam, Will You Talk?, but definitely worth getting into.If you're a fan of this author, do not make the mistake of overlooking this one.She is quickly becoming a must-read-all-of-her-backlist author, replacing the wonderful Daphne du Maurier, whose books I have devoured for the past couple of years or so.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not my favorite
The only Mary Stewart mystery-romance book written in the third person left me wishing she'd written it in the first person.The suspense was too mitigated by use of the third person, and the overall premise weak (maybe it was plausible years ago but not now).Certainly, not in league with "Madam Will You Talk?"After 50 years, that book is still as suspenseful as when I first read it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle
I got my new Kindle as a Christmas gift from my mother.I find it very user-friendly, I already started reading a sequel to another bok I had in paperback - you can't beat the prices at $6.00 for a book!Plus, no storage problems for us bibliophiles that have run out of bookshelves in our homes.

A suggestion?Why not offer a selection of leather and monogrammed covers for the Kindle?That would enhance the Kindle experience.Kindle: Amazon's New Wireless Reading Device ... Read more

15. The Gabriel Hounds
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 336 Pages (2006-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0061145394
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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It's all a grand adventure when Christy Mansel unexpectedly runs into her cousin Charles in Damascus. And being young, rich, impetuous, and used to doing whatever they please, they decide to barge in uninvited on their eccentric Great-Aunt Harriet—despite a long-standing family rule strictly forbidding unannounced visits. A strange new world awaits Charles and Christy beyond the gates of Dar Ibrahim—"Lady Harriet's" ancient, crumbling palace in High Lebanon—where a physician is always in residence and a handful of Arab servants attends to the odd old woman's every need.

But there is a very good—very sinister—reason why guests are not welcome at Dar Ibrahim. And the young cousins are about to discover that, as difficult as it is to break into the dark, imposing edifice, it may prove even harder still to escape . . .

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Good Read
Mary Stewart's books are a treasure and a must for your personal library.Service from The Book Man was excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Christy Mansell is on a pleasure trip to Damascus when she meets her cousin Charles. Their great-aunt Harriet lives in the High Lebanon, where she plays a sort of Lady Hester Stanhope role, living in a decrepit old palace secluded from everything. There's an unspoken rule that nobody is allowed to visit her, but Christy decides to pay her great-aunt an unexpected visit. Met with resistance at first by Harriet's doctor, Christy gains entry into the palace, but she and her cousin soon discover that not all is as it seems.

Christy Mansell is typical of Mary Stewart's heroines; she's young and spunky, and used to doing whatever she pleases. Under any other writer, this sort of thing might get annoying, but somehow Stewart manages to make each of her heroines unique. Also expected is the romance aspect of the book, which I wasn't quite as satisfied with as I was with the rest of the book, but enjoyed nonetheless. The romance story lines of Mary Stewart's books are always gentle and understated.

As with all of her novels, The Gabriel Hounds moves at a tight, rapid pace; I don't know how Mary Stewart ever did it, but her books are always infused with the right amount of suspense. And yet, the outcome of the story totally came as a surprise. It's this combination of the expected and the unexpected that make Mary Stewart's books so appealing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Stewart's take on Hester Stanhope
Second cousins Christy and Charles Mansel, while on separate holidays, bump into each other on a street called Straight in Damascus. With the devil may care attitude of the wealthy and privileged, the two decide to look up Great Aunt Harriet, an infamous recluse holed up in her palace in the mountains outside of Beirut. Christy gets there first and after literally barging her way in soon finds herself in the midst of a seriously creepy palace right out of the Arabian Nights peopled with insolent servants, crumbling plaster, leaking roofs as well as the hounds who prowl the grounds at night like the spectral Gabriel hounds of the otherworld.

And that is really about all of the plot I am willing to give away - any more and I'd ruin it for you. Suffice it to say that Christy and Charles soon find themselves in the thick of things as they try to unravel the mystery surrounding their reclusive Aunt Harriet and the servants determined to keep her away from all visitors. I loved loved loved the way Stewart set the scenes, particularly the very spooky palace with the secret staircases, hidden doorways, crumbling plaster, a rusty nail breaking the silence as it falls, all topped off with a fabulous nail biting finish as the island in the midst of the Seraglio (harem) becomes the author's own take on Noah's Ark during a sinking ship.Despite being a bit too wealthy and spoiled, the banter between Christy and Charles was fun and refreshing and added the perfect zest to your basic heroine in peril needing to be rescued by the hero. Four stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Interesting little changes in versions of this book
I first became acquainted with this wonderful thriller in an American paperback version and have read it often enough to be very familiar with the story. I just bought a first edition hardback version and was surprised to note several differences between the old and newer versions. I don't know if these were inserted for an American audience, or if Ms. Stewart revised the original copy. In the first edition, Charles is a first cousin, son of the other identical twin. Perhaps this consanguinity made some readers squeamish, hence(in later editions)the relationship is outlined as a more distant cousin adopted by the protagonist's uncle. The other items changed in subsequent editions are some ugly, racist adjectives used to describe the doctor and the servant Halide. Still love the book, but it's interesting that these few things were changed in later editions - American tastes or just good taste?

4-0 out of 5 stars Gabriel Hounds
If you appreciate an 'old fashioned' tale free of graphic intimacy and violence, if you appreciate vivid description, romance and intrigue this is for you. I read all but one of Mary Stewart's books in my early twenty's through late thirties. Now, nearing seventy, I am rereading them and cherishing the stories I read in my young years. I have divested myself of hundreds of books. Mary Stewart's remain a constant. Though I prefer some over others. While "Gabriel Hounds" is not my favoite it still carries the Stewart charm. ... Read more

16. The Stormy Petrel
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 272 Pages (1995-03-01)
list price: US$19.00 -- used & new: US$13.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0345468988
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Rose Fenemore is taking a break from her Cambridge teaching post in an isolated cottage on the island of Moila. One evening, she is shocked to discover an attractive stranger, Ewen Mackay, in her kitchen, who claims to have grown up in the cottage. She is tempted to believe him, when another man seeks shelter from the storm. John Parsons also rouses Rose's skepticism...and more tender feelings as well. And as the truth about the two men unfolds, the stormy petrels, fragile elusive birds who fly close to the waves, come to symbolize Rose's confusion and the mystery of her future....

From the Paperback edition. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

3-0 out of 5 stars A Hebridean Tale
As others have pointed out, this is neither a mystery nor a romance. Such a disappointment to legions of Mary Stewart fans!What this book is: a lovely description of a summer vacation on the Hebridean Island of Mullaig.It's a nice enough tale but nowhere in the league of "Madam Will you Talk?"

4-0 out of 5 stars Casting another vote
Dear Friends,
Ordinarily I do write my thoughts on a novel but the previous contributors have done so with such grace that I can only add one thing.
I am new to Mary Stewart despite fifty years of reading. How is that possible? I very much appreciated this tightly organized and the playful thoughts and conversations. I intend to read Stewart's earlier works.
As ever, Finn

3-0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars - Not my favorite of hers
First Sentence:I must begin with a coincidence which I would not dare to recount if this were a work of fiction.

Rose Fenemore is a Professor at Cambridge, and a published author of poetry and science fiction.Just as soon as she wished for an ivory tower, she sees one advertised for lease on a small island in the Hebrides--a perfect vacation spot for her and her brother.With the rise of a storm, she is awakened by hearing someone in the kitchen.Rather than it being her expected brother, it is a man claiming he grew up in the house.Another man arrives, clearly falsifying his identity, and Rose is in the middle of trying to find out who these men are and their attraction to the big house up the way.

It was fascinating reading this book, published in 1991, immediately after reading "The Ivy Tree" published in 1961.The 30 years difference was significant.The quality of writing was definitely still there.Her ability to create a scene and set you in it is wonderful.What was lacking was suspense--that feeling of impending threat--and romance.Oh yes, it's hinted at, but hint is all and in the future.I still enjoyed reading the book but it wasn't one of my favorites.

3-0 out of 5 stars Definitely not her best
"The Stormy Petrel" falls short of Mary Stewart's normal caliber of work. The main character, Rose, is a don at Cambridge and rents a cottage on a Gaelic island to write. "Adventure" follows her.
As compared to Stewart's other works, this "adventure" is dull and not really a mystery at all. From the beginning, you know who the bad guy is. There really isn't any suspense.
A good thing is that Stewart always does a nice job with setting, and this is no exception.
One complaint I have is that several storylines aren't satisfactorily tied up. Rose is secretly a science fiction author. Her writing is a subplot, but it isn't really fully developed. One person figures it out, but it's a "so what?" moment. The romance is more of a fizzle than a sizzle, as is the entire book.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ivory Towers are hard to find
This book was more suspense and I liked it that way, yes there are two possible suiters for Prof Rose Fenemore, but what kept this read going was the how the whole island mystery would work out for all the characters. Fenemore may be a don, but I liked her inner quips about herself and that the idea of bird watching with her brother would actually be considered an enjoyable vacation.

A quick and enjoyable read on a gloomy day, midges not required. ... Read more

17. Touch Not the Cat
by Mary Stewart
Mass Market Paperback: 384 Pages (2005-12-01)
list price: US$7.99 -- used & new: US$4.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060823720
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bryony Ashley knows that her family's grand estate is both hell and paradise -- once elegant and beautiful, yet mired in debt and shrouded in shadow. Devastated by her father;s sudden strange death abroad, she is nonetheless relieved to learn the responsibility of running Ashley Court has fallen to a cousin. Still, her father's final, dire warning about a terrible family curse haunts her days and her dreams.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

3-0 out of 5 stars Not her best
A re-read from several decades ago, the suspense novels of Mary Stewart never fail to please. In this offering, penned during the groovy 1970's, Stewart was no doubt making Touch Not the Cat more relevant for the time period by adding the gift of telepathy to her heroine Bryony Ashley, and Bryony's mysterious telepathic lover.

Who is this mind-melding hero? Is it one of her cousins: Emory, James or Francis Ashley? Admittedly, for most American readers, this is a pretty icky coupling, but apparently Brits are/were ok with it, so I tried my darnest and get over the revulsion of placing myself in any perilous situation where romantic attraction to my own obnoxious cousin Scott would ever cause my heart to palpitate with love....uh, nope, can't do it...

But anyway, if you can get past this concept, the plot is pretty good, and has all the suspense you've come to expect if you're a Mary Stewart fan. In fact, Touch Not the Cat really kept me mystified as to the identity of the telepathic lover right up until the reveal...and even then, Stewart didn't make it any easier for the reader to breathe a sigh of relief and mutter, "so that's who it was!".

Not quite as strong IMO as some of her earlier suspense books, Touch Not the Cat is still a fun read, and well worth the time. I shouldn't have waited 30 years for a re-read :)

4-0 out of 5 stars "Somehow, in that unguarded moment of memory, he had managed to reach me"
Bryony Ashley's father is critically injured by a hit and run driver, and he's only able to live long enough to leave a cryptic warning that she's in danger, the rest of his words seem to make no sense at all. Or do they? Devastated, she returns to her cottage near Ashley Court, the family's ancient estate in England, which cannot be sold or broken up without the approval of all members of the Ashley family. As she tries to sort the puzzle left by her father, Bryony also has a secret of her own to resolve - longer than she can remember she's had a telepathic connection with an unknown "lover" who she believes will reveal himself in the flesh to her when the time is right, and she's always felt it was her cousin James. Or is it James' younger brother Francis? I promise, you will never guess.

Ashley soon finds things amiss at the Court. Small, but valuable items are missing. A mysterious stranger is spotted shuffling through church records, and a book of ancient records turns up missing. Who is the Cat her fathered referred to in his last words - the family emblem of the Scottish Wildcat and their motto Touch not the cat? Or is Cat for Cathy, the Underhill's daughter? How is it that the long neglected garden maze is the same design as the family emblem? Is there a secret tied into the pavilion at the center of the maze, and the Ashley ancestor who built it for his lovers? What secret does the book found in the old library with the same family emblem hold?

Need the answers? Read it for yourself. Although this one started off a bit slow and it took me forever to see where Stewart was taking the story, once she gets all the lose ends wrapped up they all came together in a spectacular nail-biting finish in the midst of a whopper of a storm with deadly consequences. There are plentiful twists, turns and surprises that will keep you guessing and turning the pages. A definite must for Stewart fans.

4-0 out of 5 stars Touch Not the Cat
If you appreciate an 'old fashioned' tale free of graphic intimacy and violence, if you appreciate vivid description, romance and intrigue this is for you. I read all but one of Mary Stewart's books in my early twenty's through late thirties. Now, nearing seventy, I am rereading them and cherishing the stories I read in my young years. I have divested myself of hundreds of books. Mary Stewart's remain a constant. "Touch Not the Cat" remains a favorite.It tells of a young woman who has been linked with a young man from early years.The link is vivid ie each can 'read' the other's mind and emotions.The link has always been trusted until murder has been done and the woman must shut off her thoughts from the person who evolves into her mental 'lover'.She not only experiences the loss of her beloved father, when foul play is suspected, she can no longer trust even the one with whom she is most connected. A good read...

5-0 out of 5 stars Best escapism EVER.
Although Mary Stewart is best known for her Arthurian series (The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, and The Last Enchantment, aka The Merlin Trilogy), she was also a prolific producer of extremely popular suspense and historical novels throughout the 1970's. Out of print for years and therefore treasured by those lucky enough to have original copies, most were suddenly re-issued as mass market paperbacks in the late 90's by an imprint of Harper Collins. Imagine my delight! Stewart has a particular talent for structuring a modern story in an historical framework, usually set in her native England or Scotland, and the curiously English knack for creating realistic, likable characters that neither over- or underwhelm the reader.

This oddly-named (and the name is part of the mystery) novel is told almost exclusively by Bryony Ashley, a young woman mourning the sudden death of her father and returning to the crumbling family estate to untangle the complicated legal mess with her cousins. Bryony also has a secret she's kept for years, which is that she somehow communicates telepathically with a presence she thinks of only as `Lover'. This telepathy is an Ashley trait that pops up every so often in the line and is shared only by other Ashleys, which can only mean that her mysterious mental companion is someone she knows from the family, but who? One of her cousins, the mischievous twins? Or someone else entirely? As this mystery Bryony has lived with all of her life seems to be coming to light, the strange and unexpected death of her father leaves Ashley with a riddle to solve as she tries to understand a final, ominous warning he leaves her from his deathbed.It begins trivially, with small but valuable items missing from the old house, and a glimpse of a cloaked man lurking in the overgrown maze and around the family chapel.

The atmosphere is enchanting, a perfect blending of the encroaching modern world upon a life and time that has faded into memory - a time of rambling, pre-war estates in the green English hills, with histories that go even further back to an era of crests and swords and family honor. It bears Stewart's singular, indelible stamp of originality and subtle suspense, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't wait to get to the other re-releases.

4-0 out of 5 stars storyteller
Bryony Ashley inherits Ashley Court after her father's sudden death. She has no idea how to run it when she finds out that that responsibility is in the hands of a cousin.There is a telepathic link between her and an unknown source which she has had for years.A flood and the maze at the mansion guard secrets and uncover hurtful memories. As usual Mary Stuart can spin a good yarn. This one is no exception. ... Read more

18. The Moon Spinners
by Mary Stewart
 Mass Market Paperback: Pages (1989-12)
list price: US$3.95
Isbn: 044944824X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
When beautiful Nicola Ferris chose the remote island of Crete for her vacation, all she desired was to experience the ancient and brooding land on her own.

But one day her impulse led her on a little-used path into the foreboding White Mountains. And there she found a man in hiding -- for reasons he could not explain.

Warned to stay away, Nicola was unable to obey. And before she realized what she had uncovered, she found herself thrust into the midst of an alarming plot in which she would become the prey . . . .

"Here is magical writing . . . . A story of breathless excitement . . . seasoned with spirit and humor." -- Los Angeles Times ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

2-0 out of 5 stars AUDIOBOOK REVIEW
Let me be clear, the book was great as all of Mary Stewart's are.However, this page is for the AUDIOBOOK, and Ms. Porter's reading is quite breathless and hurried, even sounded bored much of the time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Her stories are timeless!
I loved this book as a teen-ager and I have begun re-reading all of them again 40 yrs later and they still are as good as I remember. Why have they not been all re-issued??? This is a wonderful story. I urge young readers to give her a try.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
LOVED IT!!!Such a masterpiece by Mary Stewart.I first got interested when I chanced to see the Disney movie on one night this past summer at two in the morning.I was hooked by the movie, and the book was even better!It was almost like being in Crete with Nicola...You could practically sense the danger, smell the smells, see the sights...READ IT IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY!

5-0 out of 5 stars One of My All-Time Favorites
Who can resist the spell that Mary Stewart weaves in one of her best novels?
No one.
Technically, it has all the right ingredients, beginning with a fantastically deceptive setting--the untamed Cretan countryside, described to perfection with its whirling white-sailed windmills, its craggy landscape peppered with enough fragrant wildflowers to fill Dioscorides' Greek Herbal and its people, proud, fiercely patriotic, bravely bearing the scars of war and the miseries of a sparse existence.

The protagonists are charmingly intrepid, managing to keep their British stiff upper lips intact even in the face of a wildly unstable group of gun-happy thugs-turned kidnappers.Our narrator is a deliciously innocent, well-meaning and attractive vacationer, Nicola Ferris, (don't think perky Hayley Mills who in the movie of the same name was a burgeoning adolescent--this Nicola is a consummate situation-manager with a mission, accustomed to controlling her life and the people around her)who in refusing to back out of an affair she unwittingly steps into, discovers the one situation she cannot manage without help.It takes the handsome stranger, in the guise of competent English tourist Mark Langley (yes, a young Peter McEnery might come to mind,) to turn the tables on her while pressing her into a less dominant role that she finds she actually likes.Mark's teenaged brother, the kidnapped Colin and his clever forays into the stranger world of British slang, provides an effective comedic foil for the straight-laced Mark and his Greek counterpart, the Englishly-challenged caique-owner, Lambis. The insiduous-pallikarathes villan, Stratos, one part charm to two parts unstable lethal weapon, the slithering eel-like Tony, and sadly-complaisant, hard-working Sofia, round up the players along with Nicola's older but wiser cousin, Frances.
Don't miss this one--the prose alone will have you chucking your stalward life and buying a Greek wildflower guide along with a one-way ticket to Crete!

4-0 out of 5 stars great descriptions of Crete and a good story besides
A favorite mystery that is worth reading again over time. Story is set in Crete and includes a lot of description of countryside, people, and customs without distracting from the story line. An interesting collection of characters, all unique and believable in their own way. ... Read more

19. Mary Stewart: Four Complete Novels (Touch Not the Cat, This Rough Magic, The Gabriel Hounds & My Brother Michael)
by Rh Value Publishing
 Hardcover: 694 Pages (1988-12-12)
list price: US$7.99
Isbn: 0517412969
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars A master of the craft
Mary Stewart is a master of the craft of writing. Believable characters, great plots, interesting locales, all expressed beautifully. I have read all of these previously but not for some time. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite, but My Brother Michael is so well written and expressed and ancient Delphi is so interesting that it adds another level to the enjoyment. Read all four and realize that no one writes this well today.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fine exhibition of the work of Mary Stewart
This compilation is a true example of the fine work of Mary Stewart.She is a master craftsmen in the field of literature, her books are interesting and enjoyable to read.The fine exhibition of her work is praiseworthy. Although now out of print, it is quite worth the wait if you buy this bookthrough Amazon.com.My reccommedation: seek this book out! ... Read more

20. The Hollow Hills (The Arthurian Saga, Book 2)
by Mary Stewart
Paperback: 496 Pages (2003-05-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$5.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B00029ZWSE
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

Keeping watch over the young Arthur Pendragon, the prince and prophet Merlin Ambrosius is haunted by dreams of the magical sword Caliburn, which has been hidden for centuries. When Uther Pendragon is killed in battle, the time of destiny is at hand, and Arthur must claim the fabled sword to become the true High King of Britain.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (42)

5-0 out of 5 stars Very fine "quest" tale
Some reviewers unaccountably didn't like this book, comparing it negatively to the other two in the "Merlin" trilogy of Mary Stewart.I thought it was excellent.It's just about as good as the thrilling first one--and better than the third.

But they are all good novels, worth reading and rereading.And while you're at it, read her 4th Arthurian book, although it's not of the Merlin series, THE WICKED DAY, which takes Arthur and Mordred through to the end.

5-0 out of 5 stars Savory Arthurian legend munchies (details)
I mention in my review of The Crystal Cave (The Arthurian Saga, Book 1) that fans of J.R.R. Tolkien Boxed Set (The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings) will, for the most part, enjoy this trilogy as well even though the magical element is much more subdued.

This is my second reading of the work and I wanted to make the point that this book stands entirely on its own, (but you'll clearly be inspired to read the other two in the series.) Of course this particular book is the second of the trilogy.

THE STORY: The focus here is as much on young Arthur (from his birth to age 14) as it is on Merlin, his sorcerer cousin. (Mary Stewart somehow managed to turn this one into a page-turner which is difficult to do with a "part two" of any three-part series.) Danger abounds for Arthur in this post-Roman era of English political turbulence so Merlin secures him away from the time of his birth. He is ultimately raised in a normal home in the wilds of the English forest, far from the royal house of his father, King Uther. But the time arises when Arthur must be informed of his royal heritage, (during a great war where King Uther takes on an army of Saxon and Germanic invaders.) Arthur is the heir apparent to the throne but he faces many formidable competitors before his coronation can become an actuality. It is here that the legendary sword Caliburn (later romanticized to "Excalibur") is revealed to Arthur.

In Mary Stewart's version of the King Arthur allegory, the magic of Merlin is somewhat played down, a shrewd feature which lends notable credibility to the legend. The book runs about 300 pages in length and it doesn't lack for excitement, a very compelling saga.

If you'd like to watch a sort of movie version, Merlin (Special Edition), you'll find it to be a fine film -- but I'd read the books first.

Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Book excellent, but condition?????
As always Mary Stewart is a great story teller and "The Hollow Hills" is a must in the Merlin series of 3 books with "Crystal Cave" the first, Hollow the second and the final one, "The Last Enchantment."

Stuart did get bogged down a bit with too much descriptive language of the forest, lake or whatever.Skimmed that when grew tired of it and it did not lend itself in my opinion to the story line.

Despite purchasing the used book that was stated as in "good" condition, the paperback (Hollow) book literally fell apart in my hands.It was interesting reading in clumps of pages.I wish I had noted the seller's name.Not sure how to give negative feedback for that vendor.The other 2 used books were in excellent condition.

A word of advice to young families.This series, especially "The Crystal Cave" is a great introductory work for pre-teens or teenagers who admire, mystical, magical, noble and courageous European characters in a 5th century setting. I read Crystal myself as a young woman and did not know about the following books until now.

A big "Thumbs up" for all 3 books!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Purchase but shipping slow
I purchased this book as a Christmas present for my wife on December 2/08. It showed up just in time for Christmas but was almost too late. Good Book, Great story. Just watch your shipping times if it is for a special occasion.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Authurian Saga by Mary Stewart
Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy
This series changed my life.I've feltthe most fantastic, mystical, true love of Merlin and the whole Camelot adventure ever since I read Mary Stewarts version of this fantastic story!
Merlin and King Arthur and Sir Lancelot have been a part of me ever since.This should be required reading in college and quite honestly for everyone!
Sarah ... Read more

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