Stewart's success bought her some
latitude to write what she wanted, and what she wanted was to retell the King
Arthur legend from Merlin's perspective, with more emphasis on the story's
fantastical elements. Amid the fantasy boom of the early 1970s, her Merlin
trilogy (later expanded into a quintet) expanded her readership as well as her
bank account. Whereas her earlier novels had relied heavily on research,
Stewart cheerily acknowledged to Arthurian scholars that the Merlin books had
almost no basis in historical record. She once described her books as
"light, fast-moving stories, which are meant to give pleasure, and where
the bees in the writer's bonnet are kept buzzing very softly indeed," but
the breadth of her work belies at least some of her modesty.
Mary Stewart died at her estate in
the Scottish Highlands on May 9. She was 97. Worm Farmer gets 7 points for the
hit (2 points for hit + 5 points for solo).