Return of Merlin by Deepak Chopra

   I had high hopes for this book when I opened its cover and started to read. The reviews were excellent, the writer respected with multiple books to his credit. His style began, smooth and flowing, and the beginnings of a story emerged ... and died.
   From the crisp, intriguing beginning with the mystery of the murdered old man on the British roadside, the investigation by a young constable named Arthur, the strange disappearance of the corpse -- to the appearance of Melchior, Merlin's apprentice, and his journey from the ashes of Camelot into the heart of the mystery, the story collapsed into a cardboard jungle of new age philosophy. The original characters slid back into a two-dimensionality of senseless existence in a dreary world with only occasionally flashes of the clean story telling that some passages prelude. Instead of an Arthur awaiting England's darkest need, we are given a shallow king chased down through the multidimensional time of new age belief, hiding in the shadows, unaware of the court of miracles that waits to oppose Mordred, the wizard face of evil. The characters are ripped from the skein of Arthurian lore and made backdrop for a wandering retelling of good versus evil. Every plot line that promised a new insight retreated into standard dogma. Every artifact from the legends, from Excalibur to the Holy Grail, was dragged out, crafted into the plot, and then casually thrown aside.
   In the final analysis, the only character I liked was the old crow. Perhaps Chopra should turn his desire to craft new age messages into a good animal story such as Duncton Wood or Watership Down. For the Arthurian reader, I rate this a don't.