On 20th of September 2008 something that I consider very magical, something that made me the person I am today, the BBC show Merlin was first show. Now I know you’re rolling your eyes and getting ready to click off but you have to understand that this introduced me to the whole world of fandoms and helped me make a lot of friends I still talk to now. Merlin was the first TV show that I really had a connection to and when it ended in 2012 it was a huge blow to me. I was so devastated and looking for any way to fill that hole, BBC’s Sherlock did help but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I needed my Merlin fix. So think of this blog post as half about novelisations and half a love letter to the TV show that shaped me.
In 2009 the first episode of Merlin, The Dragon’s Call, was made into a book and when I discovered this it blew my mind! Finally, this allowed me to revisit the stories I loved but the books gave them a different feel. Today I want to talk about these books as well as how I feel about novelisations of TV shows and movies.
About 2 weeks ago I ordered all the books that have currently been published in their older reader series, this being their books made for a more advanced reading age (probably not a 22 year old superfan though) and there is also a couple of books for the younger readers. This is a collection of books I will be reading but as I’m sure everyone knows book collecting is an expensive hobby. But in this blog post I just want to talk about the first book in comparison to the first episode as well as other novelisations.
The Dragon’s Call was the first episode in the series, a really good first episode as it did a wonderful job of introducing you to the characters and setting up the dynamic between them.
Young Merlin, sent by his mother from their village to start a better life, arrives in Camelot where he is to be apprenticed to Gaius, physician to the repressive King Uther. Uther, believing all magic evil, has made it punishable by death, so when Gaius finds that Merlin has magical, telekinetic powers, he agrees to keep the boy’s secret. The mother of a sorcerer Uther recently executed comes to Camelot for revenge in the guise of a pretty girl, charming the court to sleep with her singing. Only Merlin sees what is happening and, staying awake, saves the situation without exposing himself as a warlock. As a reward, he is promoted to valet of Uther’s arrogant son, Arthur.
The book was released a year later and follows the show perfectly albeit with a couple of things added. I think the main thing is of course emotions and thoughts. With any TV show or Film that doesn’t have a narrator/voice over it’s hard to capture things like thoughts of your main characters and this can add a whole new layer to the story. This is shown when Merlin first meets the dragon ‘… He didn’t wish to sound ungrateful but — no, come to think of it, he did.’ This is a sentence that made me giggle, gave you a whole new level of understanding of the main character that doesn’t show through in the TV show.
Another thing I’ve noticed about this is that the violence and gore can feel a lot worse. I feel like this is mostly because a scene that lasts 5 seconds on a tv screen can last up to a minute while reading it and things you miss in them 5 seconds are slowly described in a paragraph.
I do love novelisations, these Merlin books are very important to me as this is part of my childhood, and I think it’s a really good way to help children get into books as it’s characters they’re always familiar with and stories they already know.
Check out my last blog post where I unhauled some books here