The Wicked Day

by Mary Stewart

Hardcover, 1983

Call number




William Morrow & Co (1983), Edition: 1st, 314 pages


Fantasy. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML: Mary Stewart's stunning Arthurian Saga that began with The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment continues withThe Wicked Day, the story of the clash between King Arthur and his bastard son, Mordred Born of an incestuous relationship between King Arthur and his half sister, and prophesied by Merlin to kill Arthur, Mordred is stolen away from his mother and raised in secrecy by a kind couple on an isolated Orkney island in the hopes that he will defy his fate. Mordred, known to history as a traitor and a murderer, is no villain, but a quick-witted young man, with hopes and dreams of his own. But try as he might, Mordred cannot escape Merlin's prophecy. His mother, the evil sorceress Morgause tracks her son down and takes him back, then feeds the flames of Mordred's ambition, setting into motion a chain of events that will go down in history´┐Żand legend´┐Żas father and son are finally forced to confront each other one last time: on the wicked day of destiny, when Arthur's final battle will be fought..… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rbtwinky
As the finale to the Merlin Trilogy, much of what I said about that book would apply to this one as well. The change of perspective to that of third person was odd at first, but quickly forgotten. The book does start back in time from the ending of the Merlin Trilogy, starting with the early years
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of Mordred, whom the book focuses on. It was nice to finish out the saga of King Arthur, but it didn't have the special magic of the other book.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This is listed on LibraryThing as Book 4 of Mary Stewart's "Arthurian Saga." The first three books are the story of Merlin as he tells it, and are a beguiling mixture of fantasy and historical fiction, with an emphasis on the historical. The first book, The Crystal Cave was assigned to me in high
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school. Not the usual kind of assigned reading, but I suspect my teacher was wise enough that above all, the best you can do is spark a love for reading and history, and one does not feed that on Cather in the Rye alone. (Or at all.) The Crystal Cave was the first time I encountered the idea of Arthur as historical figure, and not just of tales of magic. It had more the feel of Mary Renault's tales of ancient Greece, and I was completely enchanted by the novel and read the two sequels. Stewart is a wonderful storyteller and lyrical prose stylist.

In this fourth book we leave Merlin behind though: this book is centered on Mordred. I can't say I've read every take on Arthurian legend. (Who has? They're legion.) But I've read Arthurian novels by a lot of authors: Marion Zimmer Bradley, T.H. White, Thomas Malory, Jack Whyte, Gillian Bradshaw, Parke Godwin, Phyllis Ann Karr. And I've never seen a more sympathetic--or more memorable Mordred. I have to rate this a little lower than her Merlin Trilogy--but not by much, and that's a very high bar.
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LibraryThing member dianahunter
Last of the trilogy of books re-telling the Arthurian legend from Merlin's point of view. Not as good as the first two, but Mary Stewart at her worst is better than the majority of authors out there. And this is definitely NOT her worst!
LibraryThing member maryh10000
This is my vision of Mordred. Very different from almost every other description I've seen.
LibraryThing member willowcove
Classic must-read series that gives a more realistic view of Merlin.
LibraryThing member Moriquen
I was a little hesitant to start this book, at first. Because it is book 4 in a series I didn't know if I would be able to follow the story properly. But I needn't have woried.I enjoyed the book a lot and the ending remained a mystery until the last ten pages or so. When you know the Arthur legend
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you even start wondering how the writer will be able to pull it all together in the end, but she does it very well.
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LibraryThing member MartinaL
Great series
LibraryThing member reading_fox
Continuation of the series. There's technically one more, but this already felt somewhat like an add-on as Merlin retired at the end of the last book. One of Merlin's first pieces of advise to Arthur was to leave Morguesse's child alive. The child gets named Modred, and this is his story. The
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change in voice form the previous trilogy works well, and it's interesting to find some of the other details the author has managed to unearth. However Modred's voice isn't that different from Merlin, he's very introspective , slow to action and not particularly concerned about public opinion. Finally we get one (solitary) adventure of the Knights of the Round Table.

Modred's tale starts as a young boy in the Orkney Isles where Morguesse has hidden him fostered to a childless couple. He's learnt fishing and lives in a peat croft. By chance, and unaware, he aids one of Morguesse's legitimate children Prince to the isles. Morguesse takes the opportunity to bring him more publicly into court, and in due course (when she's summoned to camalot to account for Merlin's first poisoning) to Arthur's attention. Arthur can't resist including his only natural son into his court and so in due course as he grows Modred gains ever more responsibility.

I've come across the fable of the asp several times, and it didn't seem to fit in very well here, although obviously the author needed sometime dramatic to set Arthur and Modred that badly at odds after most the book having their ever closer relationship. I wasn't convinced by the series of coincidences and mishaps required to bring about the eventual wicked day. Morgan and Morgusee just seem to fade away and never quite gain the depth attributed to them in other tellings of the legends. The one tale of teh Knights is an almost incidental inclusion of the Green Giant set for no reason in Brittany. Sadly it didn't add anything to the book except pages, and none fo the other Knights seemed to feature very much. This is a much less complex story than the previous three.
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