|The Last Enchantment : Book Three of the Arthurian Saga (Arthurian Saga, 3)|
Date: 1979 — $10.17 — Book
Merlin is getting old, especially in a time when life expectancy was not what it is now. This novel details many happenings of Arthur's reign, including the advent of Guenevere, who will come between Arthur and his best friend Bedwyr. (Lancelot was a French graft, as was Galahad.) However, this is again the story of Merlin, this time the story of Merlin's fall. Stewart gave him quite a bit of dignity, based on the fact that his fall was caused by a lady who immediately stepped into Merlin's place as Arthur's adviser; given the strong affection between Arthur and Merlin, it does not seem likely that Arthur would so complacently take the advice of someone he believed responsible for Merlin's death. Therefore, the giving of powers to Nimuë (also known as Niniane) is something Merlin himself decreed, though even Nimuë herself admits that the last taking was unfortunately rough.
Though Merlin survives being walled up in the cave (after falling into a deathlike coma), his purpose upon emerging is clear: he wants to fade out of the story, and leave the guardianship to others.