Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary|
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THE CRYSTAL CAVE: LITERARY CRITICISM / NOTES
Ambrosius tells Merlin that he will go on the first invasion boat and
ride immediately to Maridunum to find Galapas for any news from the town.
They have no idea how Cornwall stands except for rumors that Gorlois sided
with Vortigern. Galapas may know the truth. Also, Merlin is to take Marric
and Cadal with him as protection. Ambrosius inidicates that he’ll first
have to smoke out Vortigern, who is holed up somewhere unknown, and then,
go after Hengist.
When Merlin Notes that Uther is not with him in the darkness, he is foreshadowing
the long sleep in limbo he experiences as he reminisces about his past.
He also foreshadows his ultimate purpose which is bringing about the birth
of Arthur. Other examples of foreshadowing in this chapter include: Merlin
learning from both the engineers and the doctors which prepares us for
his deeds during the war and, later, with Uther and discovering how to
raise the standing stones from the blind beggar which prepares us for
his great feat of engineering at what is now known as Stonehenge. The
title of this book is The Wolf which, at least at this point in the novel,
refers to Vortigern when Ambrosius says he’ll have to “smoke the old wolf
New names in this chapter: Tremorinus, Ambrosius’ chief engineer
Merlin crosses over to Britain in early April on the same ship that had originally brought him to Less Britain. His two servants are Cadal and Marric and as before, he is sick all the way. The plan is to land on the side of the estuary away from Maridunum at a point where they can make their way unseen to join the road from the south. Marric will go separately into the town and meet up with his old contacts while Cadal and Merlin will find Galapas. They are to eventually meet up with Marric who will take whatever news they discover back to Ambrosius.
Once on shore, Merlin and Cadal meet a horse trader who sells them a
broken-down nag that will last them for awhile until they can find better
horses. They pass his grandfather’s house which looks little changed,
including the parts he had burned down in order to send Cerdic on his
way to heaven in the manner he would have wanted. Merlin admits to Cadal
that this house is no longer his home and yet, neither is Less Britain.
He believes that his home for now is wherever his father is, but that
the only real home he remembers is the cave of Galapas. They also pass
St. Peter’s nunnery, home of his mother, but they don’t stop, continuing
on instead towards the cave. Merlin finds himself watching for the ring-dove,
but the hillside, this time, is quiet. Merlin has Cadal wait by the horses
at the entrance to the cave, warning him that what he might think is smoke
will only be the bats. Cadal once again makes the sign against the evil
eye, causing Merlin just to laugh.
Merlin’s observations about his old home are significant in that they reveal
how very lonely and alone he has been most of his life. Although he is
a character who often seeks out solitude, even he needs human companionship
to give his life meaning. Also, it reflects the path that destiny has
chosen for him and this is a path only he can travel. This idea is further
enhanced when one of the men Merlin loves best, Cadal, once again makes
the sign against the evil eye. Even though Cadal cares very much for Merlin,
he, too, like most other people, is just slightly afraid of him and his
Sight. Merlin will always be different and, therefore, frightening, to
those around him.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Crystal Cave".
. 09 May 2017