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Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary

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THE CRYSTAL CAVE: ANALYSIS AND PLOT NOTES

BOOK I - The Dove

CHAPTER 11

Summary

Merlin feels the need for haste, but he returns home anyway, aware of the danger that surrounds him. When he arrives in his room, he finds Cerdic’s body. As he covers it, he hears voices indicating they are looking for him. He gathers together things he might need for his journey and assures Cerdic that he will send him the way of a king as he would have wanted. He sets the room on fire and heads for his pony. Before he can get into the saddle, he is set upon by two men, speaking in Breton, whom he had never seen. One is named Marric and the other Hanno. They take him with them, thinking he’s a slave and can give them information from the castle.

Notes


Merlin’s great compassion is seen in this chapter. His love for Cerdic, the only father figure he has ever known, given a king’s funeral, burned up in Merlin’s old room. But Merlin is once again alive only by his wits. He will need to find a way to escape these unknown men.

New names in this chapter: Marric and Hanno, men probably from Less Britain, who take Merlin prisoner towards the south.


CHAPTER 12

Summary

Once on the river, Merlin reveals his true identity and the fact that Camlach is siding with Vortimer rather than his father. When the two men ask him where he’ll go, Merlin says he’s not sure but the only choice seems to be Vortigern. Marric offers Ambrosius as a better choice and he admits that he and Hanno are Ambrosius’ men. He asks Merlin for more information, but knowing that he’ll be killed anyway, he won’t divulge anything. Marric wonders if he could be loyal to Ambrosius, but Merlin’s say he’ll only know that when he sees him. They arrive at a ship and throw Merlin into the hold. They set sail and the journey takes 4 days to Less Britain. Merlin is seasick all the way.

Notes

The fact that Marric and Hanno are Ambrosius’ men is significant in that Ambrosius has placed spies in Wales to see which way the wind is turning. He obviously is planning for war against Britain.


BOOK II - The Falcon

(the significance of the title: Merlin now must realize that he is on his own, no matter what his age, and therefore, must take on the persona that his name evokes - the falcon)

CHAPTER 1

Summary

Merlin awakes in the hold of the ship, hearing voices from above talking about him. Marric and Hanno are unaware that he speaks Breton and so are not careful to shield their voices. Marric feels that Merlin knows much that Ambrosius will want to listen to while Hanno fears the boy and wants him killed for their own protection and because they can take Merlin’s information for themselves and sell it to Ambrosius. Marric thinks they’ll make more than enough from Ambrosius for their pains: dead, Merlin is worth nothing at all. They decide to leave him in the hold, because Merlin is so sick and leave one man on watch. They want to get a report straight to Ambrosius before he leaves.

Merlin knows now that he must escape. He cannot count on Marric’s goodwill if he comes back after a bad interview with Ambrosius or he if he doesn’t come back and he’s left to Hanno. he plans to get to Ambrosius on his own and see if there is any patronage there. He makes clothes out of the old sacks he had been sleeping on and finds old sandals in a chest. He waits until the last of the carts have been filled with cargo from the ship and have rolled away. Then, he slips through the port-hole in the ship and grasps one of the ropes holding the ship to the wharf. The movement of the ship from his added weight on the rope loosens the rope to near vertical and he is very nearly crushed between the ship and the wharf. Fortunately, the swinging movement sends him, instead, sprawling on the ground in the shadow of a wall.

Notes

This is Merlin’s first step in his persona as the falcon: he must escape to save his own life and find a way to seek patronage, if possible, from Ambrosius.


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