According to sources, which I agree with, for people that are not very keen on reading this entire very long series, this book could very easily be an alternate book one. The first two books set up the background of the civilization of Camulod, but this book alters narrators to Merlyn, but also tells about the important things that happened in the past books. So, this would be a good starting point if anyone was interested.
Born of the chaos of the Dark Ages, the Dream of Eagles produced a king, a country and an everlasting legend—Camelot
Most know him as Merlyn; all call him Commander. Caius Merlyn Britannicus is responsible for the safety of the colony known as Camulod, and for the welfare of the colonists who look to him for guidance, leadership, justice and salvation. Uther Pendragon, the man who will father the legendary Arthur, is the cousin Merlyn has known and loved since their births—four hours apart on the same day, the year the legions left Britain. As different as can be, they are inseparable: two faces of the same coin. In a world torn apart by warfare and upheaval, each is the other’s certainty until a vicious crime—one that strikes at the roots of Merlyn’s own life—drives a wedge between them.
The thing that really amazed me about this book is how much happened in it! I was talking to someone one night and was thinking about an event that had happened, thinking it had happened in the previous book, but it was not, it was this book. Merlyn was just a baby in book 2. That really amazed me. He is relatively old by the time this book finishes, and he was just a young child when he starts relating his experiences about life in Camulod.
I have to say, sometimes there are narrators that really annoy me, but I really liked Caius Merlyn Britannicus. For me, he made a very interesting narrator of the events occuring at the settlement and his own adventures. I would prefer him to Uther. Merlyn is the thinker, while Uther is the doer. He does overthink a few things, and his mind is so logical that sometimes I find him annoying. I would be lying if I said otherwise. I just cannot get over how much time goes by in this book. The narrator from the first two books dies in this book, and I find that it seemed like that happened an eternity ago. Actually, at this point, the only main character from the original settlement left is Merlyn's great aunt who begins to play a role near the end of the book.
I particularly liked this book because baby Arthur enters the story. He only joins the cast of characters near the very end, but he is of course who this series revolves around, so it was only fitting that he make an appearance before long. When I first started reading this series I figured that he would be a long time coming, but since Meryln goes from about 8 to his late 20's in one book, it makes sense that Arthur will grow up in the next book. Maybe the series will slow down with him now born, because if not, I am not sure what the later books are going to talk about. I think that these early books are necessary to set up the world and the characters that will give rise to Arthur. The enemies are in place, the sword is ready for its bearer, and Camelot is Camulod. So, of course, now that everything is set up for Arthur, I am even more excited to read the rest of the books in this series!
The only thing that bothered me about this book was the length. Not so much the page length, but the fact that so many years are pushed into 639 pages. It is unusual for a book in a series to carry so much weight. I read this book slowly, and I think that might have been bad because I got to the end and now the three books from the series are all running together in my head. I am not much of a series reader. I normally stick with stand alones or trilogies, so I am delighted that I have found a series that I am excited to read the next book for. I have so many questions, and I am looking forward to having them answered. I think I am a bit of a fangirl! (Just kidding)