Online Study Guide: The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart - Book Summary|
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THE CRYSTAL CAVE: TEACHING GUIDE / LITERATURE NOTES
Once again, Merlin faces a loss in his life, something he has had to
get used to. The loss of Galapas, however, is even dearer than not having
had his father as a child or not having had friends to support him. This
is the man who taught more than any other and acted more of a father figure
than even Ambrosius. It is significant that his Merlin wants his body
to become one with the hill. This is symbolic for Merlin’s understanding
of Galapas as man who was one with nature and the world around him.
As he and Cadal eat, Merlin decides that his next step is to see his mother. He also wonders who could have done all that to Galapas and Cadal rightly infers the deed to Vortigern’s men. Cadal asks Merlin if he has any message from Ambrosius to his mother. Merlin replies that Ambrosius left it up to him, Merlin, to decide how much to tell her. Merlin is concerned that she may have switched her loyalties, given that the nunnery still stands while the rest of Maridunum has been ravaged by war. However, he also knows his mother can tell him who to seek out for information now that Galapas is dead.
When they arrive at St. Peter’s, Merlin is told that he must wait to
see Niniane after prayers are over. She’ll meet him on the river walk
at the gate in the wall there an hour after moonrise. They decide to wait
in his grandfather’s old home across the way, until they hear the bell
for the end of prayers, as Merlin doesn’t want to chance being recognized
in the town. As they are trying to pick the lock, Dinias, his cousin and
the bully who had made his life miserable as a child, comes around the
corner. He has taken the title of prince in the time since they last met,
but he doesn’t look like a prince with his clothes old and frayed. Dinias
is suspicious of Merlin and his loyalties and wants to know why he has
returned. Merlin easily leaves out his true mission and tells his old
nemesis that he is there to see his mother. Dinias reveals that rumors
abound about Cornwall, where he thinks Merlin has been living, including
that Gorlois has spent the winter snuggled in with a young girl of twenty
who makes “Helen of Troy look like a market woman.” Merlin also learns
that Dinias had fought with Vortimer and Camlach and that Gorlois has
now left for the north to meet Vortigern. They decide to have dinner together
at a place Dinias believes is safe from Vortigern’s spies. He remarks
that Maridunum is crawling with Vortigern’s men. Dinias doesn’t know who
they’re looking for, but remarks that a story is going around about it.
Before he can reveal what that story is, they are interrupted by a beggar
with a blind eye and a hideous scar that looked as if it came from a sword
It is significant that Vortigern’s men probably killed Galapas as Merlin will soon learn that these men are all over Maridunum following up on rumors about someone and that someone will turn out to be Merlin himself. We learn this later when Merlin meets up with Dinias who mentions the rumors. Also, Merlin seems oblivious to the blind beggar with the scar from a sword cut, a fact about which he should have been more wary.
Dinias mentions a rumor about Gorlois of Cornwall and the young woman of twenty
who has been with him all winter. This foreshadows the woman who will
enchant Uther with her beauty and eventually become Arthur’s mother.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Crystal Cave".
. 09 May 2017