Cover of Passager by Jane Yolen

Young Merlin Trilogy: Passager

The first book of the Young Merlin trilogy (HOBBY and MERLIN are the others), this tells the story of Merlin as a seven year old who has lived for a year by himself in the woods, and lost his ability to speak. He is rescued (or captured) by a falconer and given back his humanity. I am especially fond of the hardcover covers. I researched the falconry stuff carefully and each of the trilogy titles (Passager, Hobby, Merlin) are terms from falconry. This book is based on the short story “The Wild Child” from the collection Merlin’s Booke, but has been significantly expanded and refocused. Passager was on the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award Master List 1997-1998. The trilogy won the 1988 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature. The book was also on the 1998 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List as well as on the 1997-98 Charlie May Simon Preliminary Reading List.

The Young Merlin Trilogy:


  • Trilogy won the 1998 Mythopoeic Award
  • Selected for the 1997-1998 Dorothy Canfield Fisher (Vermont) Children’s Book Award Master List
  • Finalist for the Hungry Mind Review 1997 Children’s Books of Distinction Award
  • Best Book of the Year: Family Fun Magazine 1997

Around the Web:

What reviewers have said:

  • “This “skinny” book will entice reluctant readers, but its rich language and poetic phrasing make it compelling and challenging.”–School Library Journal starred review
  • “So steeped is this saga in sensory detail that it’s as shockingly tangible as the window glass that the feral young boy, abandoned in the forests of medieval England, can describe only as “hard air.” In conjuring the childhood of the legendary wizard, Yolen has drawn on historical fact but also on conjecture: How would it feel to be an eight-year-old left to forage–or else starve–in the wild? What would the round of days be like, as language fades and life is reduced to after a wise, kind falconer takes the wild child under his wing. It’s more of a prologue, really, than a self-sustaining novel, but Passager is certain to trap readers and leave them craving more.” — Disney’s
  • “In this worthy introduction to Arthurian legend for the younger reader, a feral child who has forgotten where he came from and lost his ability to speak is captured and tamed by a kindly falconer, who helps him recover. In a moving conclusion, the boy remembers that his name is Merlin. This first book of a trilogy will have readers awaiting the sequels.” — Horn Book
  • “A superb prose stylist, Yolen creates an evocative sketch of her character, which is more an enigmatic glimpse of Merlin than a retelling of any of the traditional tales. Spare and sophisticated, these books will probably appeal to the adult reader as much as (or more than) its intended audience. This trilogy is recommended for any fan of Arthuriana, or, for that matter, any lover of well-written fantasy.” — Mythprint
  • “With this trilogy for middle readers, Jane Yolen is at the height of her literary powers. … There are moments of pure beauty in the text. Young readers will be entertained by this trilogy, but adults will be enchanted. Any fan of the Arthurian legends or fantasy in general would find The Young Merlin Trilogy a welcome addition to their collection.” — ReviewZone (Arthur Slade)
  • “…three relatively short books, but they were quite good and I wanted to share. Yolen is a masterful storyteller, which I already knew, but I love how she integrates Arthurian legend and falconry into these stories. The legends of Merlin are so numerous, and each one tells a different side of the story that it’s impossible to know what aspects of the story are true, if such a man named Merlin really did exist. And even if Merlin only exists in our collective memory, I’m so glad that Yolen is adding to the lore.”–
  • “Steeped in hawks, mews, and wood life, the trilogy evokes a romantic, dreamy time. But its unadorned language lets the story emerge in a guileless way that will captivate young readers. This is a fine read-aloud. . .”–San Diego Union Tribune
  • “No kids could resist it…”WORC Book Beat.
  • “Beautifully done, as is all of Yolen’s work for young readers, and with sufficient depth to appeal to more sophisticated tastes as well.”–Science Fiction Chronicle
  • “Yolen creates a Merlin <who> is both human and magical.”– Associated Press
  • “Yolen is a gifted storyteller: her latest work once again reveals the depth of that talent. Merlin is at once both human and animal, ordinary and magical, The story sings with the rhythms of Yolen’s prose.”–Journal of Adolescent and adult Literacy

In print in both hardcover and paperback.