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Mary Stewart was my first and most profound writing inspiration – before Tolkein, before Zimmer-Bradley. Hers were the first Arthurian novels I read, and she the writer I most admired and aspired to emulate. I had hoped to one day meet her and tell her what she meant to me. Sadly that day will never come. She will live forever in my library, and in the place her stories carved into my heart.

Of all her books, The Crystal Cave is the most enduring, and has lost none of its freshness. It is a masterful imagining of Merlin’s upbringing that vividly evokes fifth-century Britain. The Hollow Hills (1973) and The Last Enchantment (1979) completed the trilogy, earning Stewart favourable comparisons with another leading Arthurian, TH White. They were the books of which she was most proud.