//by Diana Wynne Jones//published 2003//
This book is a sequel to Deep Secret, although not a strict one – there’s really only one character who overlaps. Still, I definitely recommend reading Deep Secret first (especially since it was such a fun read, too!). In these two books, Jones has created a world similar to that in her Chrestomanci books, where there are many worlds, interconnected, that are much like each other. The really fun part about this is that she can have a Britain that really isn’t anything like the real one, but because it’s similar, you have a good idea of distances and where places are. (Or at least you probably would if you were from there. I still have to constantly reference my map!)
The Merlin Conspiracy is told in alternating voices between Roddy and Nick. Roddy lives in an AU Britain. Her parents travel with the king all around the country, so Roddy does, too. Her best friend/young sidekick is Grundo. Roddy has been sticking up for Grundo for years, and he always manages to tag along with her. The second voice is Nick, our friend from Deep Secret. His adventure starts when he gets knocked clean out of our world and into another, with no idea of how to get home.
Both Roddy and Nick are really likable protagonists with distinct voices. Jones does a great job of weaving together their two stories that, at the beginning, seem to have no connection to each other.
Per usual, the story is also full of rather exasperated individuals who have been swept up into the adventure unwillingly (usually my favorites). Plus, in this story, we also get a talking elephant, which is a definite bonus.
Jones always seems (to me) to have a tendency to let her stories run away from her a bit, and this one is no different. There are definitely a few points/wrap-ups that left me basically going “?????” but, in general, this story did a pretty decent job of tying everything together. And, as always happens when she is really on a roll, Jones did manage to make me not really care if there were a few loose ends, because the overall tale was so enjoyable.
Overall, The Merlin Conspiracy is just an incredibly fun frolic of a story, and one that I highly recommend. 5/5.