(Absolutely nothing about this cover screams "read me!" to me. Good thing hubby insisted that I do so.)
Taliesin was first published in 1988... when I was 3 yrs old. But it is a fantasy novel based on the legend of King Arthur, so it didn't feel dated at all while I was reading it. Anyhow... there may be some minor spoilers in this review. The book's been out forever, folks.
A quick background story: the hubby and I have a rule that he has "executive power" to interject books into my TBR stack. So far he hasn't abused this power, and I've truly enjoyed everything he's interjected, so the rule still stands. He is a much pickier and slower reader than I am, so the rule doesn't work the other way around. :) Side note to the background story: we also have a rule that we have to read the book first, if the the movie is based on a book.
All that to say that Taliesin was a hubby pick. He first read the Pendragon Cycle books as a teen and he LOVES them. He read them as a teen, and then again as a young adult. He might have even read them twice as a teen. So we own them and the copy I read was that soft feel that books get when they've been handled a lot. I love that feeling.
Taliesin is the first of the Pendragon Cycle books, and it is the tale of Merlin's parents, Charis and Taliesin. Charis is a royal princess in Atlantis and Taliesin is a foundling in Briton. Taliesin's adopted father had the worst luck in everything in life until he found the infant Taliesin in a bag in a stream. Suddenly he has all the best luck. He ends up king even though he's not his father's oldest son and he scores a hot wife and he builds up a great warband of soldiers to protect his homeland. Taliesin is schooled by the village druid to be a druid himself, and a talented bard.
Charis grows up in the royal household in Atlantis. She's buddies with the royal seer and he gives her private lessons in using the seeing stone to foretell events. She grows up to be a bull dancer. It's kind of like bull fighting, but she dances to elude the bull instead of stabbing it.
Disaster strikes Atlantis, and Charis and her family barely escape with their lives. War strikes Briton, and Taliesin and his family barely escape with their lives.
Taliesin is an epic fantasy novel. It's lengthy and deep, but it never gets mired down in the mud. I feel like I fairly flew through it for how long it is. (Just over 500 pages in my edition.) So even though it might feel like I told you a lot of the plot just now, I really barely skimmed it. There's so much more rich detail in the book itself, and I definitely would encourage others to read it.
I loved the plot and the story and the characters, but I didn't particularly care for the ending. It just seemed to come a little too quickly compared to the other events in the book, and I was left with a number of questions. I suppose (hope) they may be answered in the next book, Merlin. So see: there's a good endorsement: I plan to read the other two books in the series!