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Beyond the Buzz: Guest Post by Nicole from WORD for Teens

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Welcome to the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series, where I’m asking YA & kidlit librarians as well as book bloggers to share books they think deserve more attention. Read on to see what titles blogger Nicole from WORD for Teens wants to share with us today… 


Guest post by Nicole

I was staring at my shelves for a good half hour in an attempt to find the proper book to write this post about. What book do I think is overlooked?

Eyes Like StarsPerchance to DreamSo Silver Bright

There were the ones that were known in the blogging community but seemed hidden from everybody else, like Lisa Mantchev’s beautiful Theatre Illuminata series.

Bloody Jack 1Bloody Jack 3Bloody Jack 2

Then there were the ones that sell well, but nobody I talk to seems to have read them despite how much I adore them, like L.A. Meyer’s hilarious historical Bloody Jack series.

The Lost Years of MerlinBut at least people knew about both of those. They hadn’t been overlooked too badly. So I sat and I thought and I browsed my bookcase, and I sat and I thought and I looked at my books some more. And then I realized I was overlooking the most overlooked books on my shelf: The Lost Years of Merlin series by T. A. Barron.

I’ve never been able to figure out why so few people have read this series. The writing is absolutely breathtaking; the characters are fabulous and all of them are memorable; the world, the world, the world! is amazing. Fincayara was the number one on my top ten most vivid fictional settings.

Maybe it’s because T.A. Barron doesn’t have much of an online presence—he’s not on Twitter and doesn’t update his Facebook or his blog that often. I had the chance to meet him when I was younger and he’s an absolute sweetheart, and when I played his games on his website he sent me signed posters of the maps of Fincayara. (He’s awesome.)

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a high fantasy Arthurian legend retelling. Or it didn’t have a big marketing push. Or the fact that the series is quite a few years old at this point, with two spin-off series attached to it.

The Lost Years of Merlin 2But regardless of why it hasn’t been read, it should be read. The Lost Years of Merlin starts off with a young boy named Emrys—and anybody who knows anything about Arthurian legend knows that Emrys will grow up to be the infamous sorcerer Merlin. The young boy has to deal with a whole slew of issues, from not knowing who his father is to not fitting in his town, before he ends up on the lost isle of Fincayara. Fincyara, the world-between-worlds, is currently under the thumb of a ruler who Rhita Gawr, an evil god, has converted to his side. Emrys, with the help of a few friends and the blessings of the god Dagda (yay, Celtic mythology!) needs to help bring Fincayara back to order.

And is the lost-boy-saves-the-world plot a bit of a stereotype for the fantasy genre? Of course! But it’s so well done here, and I don’t know why people are avoiding it, especially you fantasy lovers. I see you sitting there at your computer, reading this, going, Hmm, maybe I should pick it up. Well, put down your Mercedes Lackey and your Christopher Paolini or whatever it is you’re favoring at the moment and go give Barron’s books a try.

Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Have you read and loved this series? Chime in and tell us what you think in the comments! 


Nicole word for teens headshotNicole blogs over at WORD for Teens. She has blonde hair and a love of dragons. The rest changes without notice. For stalkage purposes, you can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr.

Want more in the Beyond the (Latest) Buzz series?

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Here are the posts in the series so far:

  • YA/middle-school librarian Jennifer Hubert Swan recommends Better Than Running at Night and Every Time a Rainbow Dies
  • YA librarian Kelly Jensen recommends a whole host of books including Sorta Like a Rock StarFirst Day on EarthFrost, and more
  • Youth services librarian Liz Burns recommends The President’s Daughter, Flora Segunda, and All Unquiet Things
  • YA librarian Angie Manfredi recommends Rats Saw God
  • YA librarian Abby Johnson recommends the top five books she read this year: The Berlin Boxing Club; Blizzard of Glass; Dogtag Summer; Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have; and A Girl Named Faithful Plum 
  • Book blogger Kari Olson from A Good Addiction recommends books including Freefall, I Swear, Like Mandarin, and more
  • Book blogger Wendy Darling from The Midnight Garden recommends Ultraviolet, A Certain Slant of Light, and The Reapers Are the Angels

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