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Another amazing 5 Star Review from Reader's Favorite!

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New Horizons and Old Wizards
 
Friends, fans and followers; as some of you already know, at the beginning of this past December I underwent extensive open heart surgery and spent the remainder of the month in recovery.  Thanks to the skill and dedication of a fairly large team of surgeons, cardiologists and nurses I am now recovering quickly and by the time spring brings the flowers into bloom I should be in better shape than I have been in some years.  Spring will also bring with it my 68th birthday.   I mention all of these things only because the combined impact of these – like all major life-changing events – have given me pause to step back and take a long, hard look at my life and reassess things from a fresh perspective. 
 
Among the many things I contemplated during this reassessment was both my past and future as a writer.  As far as my past goes, over the last 22 years I have churned out 5 novels and, with the help of my coconspirator, Mark Donnelly, 21 nonfiction books and something in excess of 170 hours of scripts for documentary television.  While I have enjoyed every minute of the writing process the return on the effort has steadily decreased as the publishing industry has undergone one contraction after another in the wake of the economic crash of 2008 and the rise of the eBook.  To put this in the simplest possible terms, writing – no matter how enjoyable - is simply no longer worth the effort.  I don’t know exactly what the future may hold in store, but preparing to face the unknown is half the fun of living.
 
This blog, then, will serve as the announcement of my retirement.  All of my books will remain in print and available for you and your friends to buy and enjoy, and the individual Facebook pages for all of our titles will remain up and active.  The only change – other than the fact that I will probably not be producing any new titles – is that this blog will no longer appear in its usual Tuesday spot.
 
Before closing I want to tell you all how much I appreciate your support and patronage over the more than four years that I have been writing this weekly column.  It would also be unfair not to say a few words about my good friend, Merlin.  Of all the characters, both real and fictional, that I have written about in my books and scripts, I find the old Welsh wizard to be the most endearing and, in many ways, the most ‘real’ of the hundreds of figures that I have brought to life through the printed word.  It was only when I began writing The Merlin Chronicles trilogy that I understood the experience that some authors describe as having their characters dictate the direction of the story.  When I am writing about a real person, either living or dead, it is the chain of historical facts that drives the story, and most of the fictional characters I have created simply followed the storyline that I set out for them.  Not Merlin.  It sometimes seemed as though he stood over my shoulder, read my outline notes and said “Nope.  Not right.  Do this”.  Time and again the old man insisted on driving the story in directions that were completely new to me and often in a direction that was completely contrary to what I had originally planned.  All in all, it was almost as grand an experience as actually having met the great Merlin himself.  Just like the persona that make himself come alive through the pages of The Merlin Chronicles books, the Merlin character that lived beside me for more than eight years was at once charming, amusing, enchanting and totally infuriating to deal with.  I love him to death.
 
I now find that I have run out of things to say and I have no intention of boring you unnecessarily, so thank you all once again and I wish you the very best of luck in all of your own unknown future adventures.
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A Sale’s End and a Fresh Look at Wizards
 
First things first – HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Now that that’s over, on with the blog.
 
For the past six weeks I have offered a comprehensive look at the history and legend of the great Merlin; court wizard to King Arthur and now, mentor to Jason Carpenter, the protagonist of my Merlin Chronicles trilogy.  This series of blog posts coincided with the first and only sale on the eBook version of the Merlin Chronicles trilogy and since the sale is now over I suppose it is time for me to move on to other blog topics.  But before I do, I want to take a moment to reflect back on the nature of wizards themselves; who they are and how they came to be portrayed the way they are.
 
While doing a final edit on the manuscript of ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’ a line of dialogue caught my attention.  Late in the story a Buddhist monk named Lu Shi comments to Jason, “For reasons which escape me, one seldom meets a young wizard.”  At the time of writing it was simply a small part of a larger scene that I was structuring, but on re-reading it I began to wonder why it is that wizards are always portrayed as old men; and even here we have a second curiosity; why are wizards always male? 
 
I can certainly understand that the concept of a ‘boy wizard’ might be cute in a children’s’ book, but in real life there is no such thing as a young wizard for many of the same reasons there is no such thing as a young surgeon or a young astrophysicist – accumulating vast amounts of knowledge requires many years of study.  But why aren’t there any wizards in their early middle-age; gray at the temples but still sporting a rakish smile and a full head of hair? And why do they have to be men?  Is there some kind of ‘boys only’ rule in the club of wizardry?  Obviously the feminine version of wizard is not witch – a male witch is a warlock, not a wizard.  So what does the dictionary say about gender and wizards?  According to the copy of Webster’s Seventh Collegiate Dictionary that has been setting on the corner of my desk for more than 40 years a wizard is: “1 archaic: a wise man: a sage 2: one skilled in magic: a sorcerer 3: a very clever or skillful person.” 
 
Ok, so in its archaic form, the one indicating a wise man or sage, the wizard is apparently gender specific and the word does not refer to a wise woman.  But the definition pertaining to magic and sorcery does not seem to apply to one sex while excluding the other.  This certainly does not answer the question and we are forced to wonder, like Lu Shi, why one almost never meets a young (or young-ish) wizard.  And now, come to think of it, I also want to know why we never meet a female wizard?  We really need to address this shortcoming and work toward better integration in the ranks of wizardry.  If any of you know of well-known literary instances in which young, middle aged, or feminine, characters are said to be full-fledged wizards I beg you to join this blog and enlighten me and our fellow readers.
 
 
That’s all for today and I hope you cashed in on the great 99 cent bargain we offered on the Merlin Chronicles trilogy from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day.  If you missed it, not to worry, Merlin is still available in both eBook and print and with just a little luck he will be hanging around for the next thousand years or so.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 5)
 
Before moving on to the last segment in my five part series on the history of Merlin I want to mention that the folks at Drunken Druid will be running features on ‘Apparition Atlas: The Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Haunted America’ on many of their regular sites throughout the week.  The longest piece will be released on New Years’ Eve, Thursday 31 December, at: http://the-thursday-interview.blogspot.ie/  Now, back to the thrilling conclusion of Merlin’s personal history.
 
In the first four parts of this five part series on the history of everyone’s favorite wizard, Merlin, we investigated his story from his first appearance in Welsh legend, through his most recent appearances in 20th century literature, just prior to his inspiring me to undertake my own reimagining of his story in my Merlin Chronicles trilogy.   But what we haven’t discovered is what – or who – actually inspired the Merlin character of literature; and before we close this series I think we owe it to the old wizard to find out who he really is.
 
Remember - all three books in the Merlin Chronicles trilogy are on sale for just 99 cents in eBook format – that’s 80 percent off their regular price.  This sale only lasts until January 1, 2016 and is running on all Amazon and B&N websites in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. 
 
 
5- Back to the Beginning – Merlin’s Origins in History
 
From his first appearance in literature through the early years of the twenty-first century we have traced Merlin’s development as a character over the past four blog posts.  In this last segment we look at the earliest references to Merlin – the ones which hint that he was not a creation of fiction but a real, flesh and blood human being…just like we always knew he was.
 
Investigating the origins of the Merlin character on which Geoffrey of Monmouth based his Merlin led me back to the legendary figure of Myrddin Wyllt – or the Wild Merlin – whom I mentioned earlier.  Searching through the Welsh sagas one quickly finds that the Wild Merlin – like Merlin the Wizard – changed his identity from saga to saga.  In some instances he was known as Merlinus Ambrosius and in some Merlinus Caledonensis; this last being taken from the Caledonian Forest in southwestern Scotland where he was supposed to have lived.  This, it would seem, was the man Geoffrey had in mind when he wrote his Prophecies of Merlin around 1130 and his later character Merlinus – those who appeared in History of the Kings of Britain and the Life of Merlin were expansions on this character.  So who was the Wild Merlin?
 
The Wild Merlin appears in a three part poetical cycle which was brought together about a century after Geoffrey of Monmouth’s death in a book known as the Black Book of Carmarthen.  These poems – The Apple Trees, The Greetings and the Dialogue of Merlin and Taliesin - each deal with a portion of Merlin’s life and also with a selection of his supposed prophesies.   These prophesies should not be confused with the ones in Monmouth’s Prophesies of Merlin, which were entirely invented by Bishop Geoffrey.  Leaving the prophesies aside, it was details of the life of the ancient Welshman that I was looking for.
 
What we find in the Black Book’s poems is a picture of a desperately troubled man.  While his exact social position is never revealed to us, we assume from the flow of the text that while he held some relatively important position he was not a soldier.  This may be the origin of the legend of Merlin as a druid. 
 
As his story progresses we learn that his lord was a man named Gwenddolau who ruled in the Welsh-speaking area of southern Scotland.  We are told that Merlin accompanied Gwenddolau and his soldiers to the battle of Arfderydd where Gwenddolau and most of his followers died.  Driven mad by the horrible slaughter and the death of his beloved lord, Merlin wanders off into the forest where he is pursued by the solders of a petty chieftain named Rhydderich Hoel (Roderick the Good). 
 
Alone and confused, Merlin wanders the forest accompanied only by a small pig with whom he holds long rambling conversations which soon turn into prophesies.  Apparently word of Merlin’s prophetic abilities reached Rhydderich Hoel who invites Merlin to his court to prophesy.   But when the old seer says the wrong thing Rhydderich drives him away, sending his soldiers in pursuit of the sage.  Eventually, the men find Merlin hiding in a cave near the juncture of the rivers Pausail and Tweed, and there they murder him.
 
Fascinating as this story is, we never have any accurate fix in time for this Merlin.  For that we need to go further back – all the way to the ninth century writings of the Welsh monk and historian Nennius who composed a work entitled Historia Brittonum – A History of Britain. Here we find the earliest account of the young boy Merlin and his meeting with the real-life Vortigern but there are tragically few details of his later life.
 
There are, however, even earlier accounts of the wily old sage.  A Welsh poem that dates roughly from the year 600 AD tells the story of a prophet and seer named Merlin who seems, according to the poem, to have been alive no more than a quarter of a century earlier.  Is it possible that we have located the real, flesh-and-blood Merlin at last?  For definitive proof we need to travel back to the time of Merlin’s life.
 
In no less an authority than the Anglo Saxon Chronicle we find a brief entry for the year 573 AD that tells us of a battle at a place called Arfderydd where the sons of a man named Eliffer fought Gwenddolau, the son of Ceidio.  The entry also tells us that Gwenddolau fell in battle and that as a result, a man named Merddyn went mad.
 
There is one further piece of evidence indicating the existence of a real Merlin.  Around the year 540 AD, the British cleric Gildas wrote De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae – On The Ruin and Conquest of Britain – which deals largely with the history of post-Roman Britain.  While much of the pre-Roman and Roman period covered by the book is inaccurate, his account of the events which had taken place during the preceding century – roughly between 450 and 540 are generally considered fairly reliable.  Here, once again, we find the characters of the usurper Vortigern and the young seer named Merlinus Ambrosius – very possibly the same man who, half a century later, would flee into the forest to become a hermit and prophet – spurring a legend that would not only outlive him, but would continue to be thrive a millennia and a half later.
 
 
That’s all for today, but I will be back next week with another installment in Merlin’s long and wonderful story.  Until then – HAPPY NEW YEAR and don’t forget to pick up your eBook copies of all three volumes of the Merlin Chronicles (including ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘Out of Time: book three of The Merlin Chronicles’) for just 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 4)
 
In parts 1 through 3 of this five part series on the origins of the Merlin legend we have investigated Merlin’s life from his first appearance in popular literature, through much change and development up until the beginning of the fifteenth century.  Now we join the Merlin story as it is about to get a new retelling during England’s dynastic struggle known as the Wars of the Roses and how this restored his youth and helped the great wizard survive into our own time.
 
But first, don’t forget that all three books in the Merlin Chronicles trilogy are on sale for just 99 cents in eBook format – that’s 80 percent off their regular price.  This sale only lasts until January 1, 2016 and is running on all Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and B&N websites in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. 
 
And as a special Christmas treat for all of you Merlin fans the nice folks at Reader’s Gazette have just published my latest Merlin short story.  You can find it at - http://readersgazette.com/promote/stories/67/  - and don’t forget to check in with Reader’s Gazette at - http://readersgazette.com – for regular updates on the latest hot new titles, free short stories and articles, games and tons of other fun stuff for literate folks.
 
 
And now, part 4 – Merlin; fully developed and in the Modern World
 
For thirty years – between 1455 and 1485 – the English noble classes tore their kingdom apart and nearly wiped out the entire ruling class in their struggle to decide whether the House of York or the House of Lancaster who held the most legitimate claim to the throne.  Among the thousands of men and women caught up in the nightmare of this dynastic war was Sir Thomas Mallory.  When not engaged in fighting or defending his land against the enemy of the moment, he – like hundreds of other landowners – was routinely accused of an endless litany of trumped-up crimes and thrown into jail without trial.  Between June 1468 and February 1470 Mallory was again imprisoned and spent his time writing what has become the best known version of the Arthur legend Le Morte d’Arthur – The Death of Arthur – which he saw as both an allegory and a ray of hope for his war-torn country.
 
In his Le Morte d’Arthur Mallory presents the most human, and humane, version of Merlin to date.  While there is no doubt that the old man possesses magical powers he is also shown as a good man who is deeply concerned with the wellbeing of both Arthur and the kingdom.
 
Since the appearance of Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur Merlin’s popularity has never waned but each individual author’s interpretation of him continues to change with the needs of the particular story and the whims of the writer.  In Alfred Lord Tennyson’s series of twelve epic narrative poems entitled The Idylls of the King – published between 1859 and 1885 - Merlin appears as the chief architect of the idealistic concept of Camelot and the originator of the concept of equality among noblemen symbolized by Arthur’s use of a ‘round table’.  
 
In 1889, only four years after the completion of Tennyson’s Idylls cycle, Merlin appeared as the arch villain in Mark Twain’s scathing political polemic entitled A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur.  But to add just a note of humor to the over-all bitterness of the book, Twain’s illustrator, Dan Beard, gave Merlin the face of Alfred Tennyson. 
 
Between 1938 and 1958 author Theodore White resurrected Merlin as one of the central characters in his Arthurian cycle of books known collectively as The Once and Future King and the related book entitled simply The Book of Merlin. In White’s work Merlin is again a wizard of supernatural power, able to shape-shift both himself and Arthur, but even as Arthur’s death approaches Merlin shows a gentle, playful side that has endeared him to a millennia of readers.
 
In 1946 C. S. Lewis – author of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – uses Merlin in his science fiction novel That Hideous Strength and in T. A. Barron’s series The Lost Years of Merlin and The Great Tree of Avalon we discover both Merlin’s teenage years and his later life, after Arthur’s death.   In Robert Holdstock’s trilogy the Merlin Codex we find Merlin moving through time, long before the birth of Arthur, adventuring along with the likes of Jason and the Argonauts.  In the 1970s author Mary Stewart used Merlin in the first three of a five part series of Arthurian fantasy novels including 1970’s The Crystal Cave, 1973’s The Hollow Hills and 1979’s The Last Enchantment.  In 1979 – the same year Ms Stewart wrote The Last Enchantment - the great science fiction author Roger Zelazny offered a new aspect to the Merlin character in his novella The Last Defender of Camelot.  Here, for the first time, Merlin was brought into the modern world to serve as the villain of Zelazny’s piece.  After that, for more than thirty years Merlin would slumber in the past until, in 2013, I again brought him into the modern world as one of the main characters of Revelations – the first book in my Merlin Chronicles trilogy.
 
But despite all of the research I had done to compile the aggregate character of my own Merlin, I had not yet found the true origin of Merlin.  If Geoffrey of Monmouth chose the name Merlin for the central character of his three works - The Prophesies of Merlin, The History of the Kings of Britain and the Life of Merlin- because he believed his audience would be familiar with him – then who was the Merlin with whom they were familiar?
 
 
That’s all for today, but I will be back next week with another installment in Merlin’s long and wonderful story.  Until then don’t forget to pick up your eBook copies of all three volumes of the Merlin Chronicles (including ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘Out of Time: book three of The Merlin Chronicles’) for just 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 2)
 
 
In last week’s blog I looked at the fully developed Merlin character as he has come down to us over the centuries.  But when and where did this fascinating old man with magical powers first appear in the pages of literature?  Before we go there, just a quick reminder that all three books in the Merlin Chronicles trilogy are on sale for just 99 cents in eBook format – that’s 80 percent off their regular price.  This sale only lasts until January 1, 2016 and is running on all Amazon and B&N websites in the English speaking world.  And now, let’s look at Merlin’s long and noble literary career.
 
2 – Merlin Appears in Literature
 
The Merlin of legend was created and popularized by a twelfth century Benedictine monk, priest and bishop named Geoffrey of Monmouth who, despite his use of the Welsh town of Monmouth in his name, was not Welsh.  His early monastic years were, however, spent in Monmouth but most of his life was spent teaching and writing in Oxford. 
 
Geoffrey’s earliest known writing was created in response to the ongoing civil war between King Stephen and his sister, the Empress Matilda, and was entitled Prophetiae Merlini – or The Prophesies of Merlin.  Composed sometime between 1130 and 1134, the thrust of the prophesies was to give hope to the people of England that their nation would survive the tumult of the war.  It is only reasonable to assume that Monmouth chose Merlin’s name because there was already some general familiarity with the character.  Certainly Geoffrey’s Welsh readers would have recognized many aspects of the Merlin character as a composit of characters from the old Welsh sagas including a man best known as Myrddin Wyllt – or Wild Merthin.  Aparently Geoffrey Latinized Myrddin to Merlinus, rather than to Merdinus, because the later sounded too much like ‘merde’ – the Latin word for feces.  And so from Myrddin the name Merlin was born.   To lend credence to Merlin’s supposed prophesies, Geoffrey claimed the document was of ancient origin and that he had only accidentally ‘discovered’ it.
 
A few years later, in 1137, Geoffrey released his most famous written work Historia Regnum Britanniae – or The History of the Kings of Britain.  This ambitious bit of work supposedly recorded the reigns of every king of Britain from its first settlement by the descendants of the Trojan Wars through the real-life King Cadwallader in the 7th century AD.  While most of the History was wildly inventive it did include important historical facts such as the occupation of the British Isles by the Romans.  More importantly, it included a lengthy entry on the reign of King Arthur.  Central to this early rendering of the Arthur story was Geoffrey’s inclusion of his earlier character, Merlin.
 
Whereas in the Prophesies of Merlin Geoffrey had told us nothing about Merlin’s background, in his History of the Kings of Britain Merlin is almost as fully rendered as is Arthur himself.  This is where we find Merlin as the son of a nun (note that the early Celtic clergy were allowed to marry) whose father was the king of one of the petty kingdoms of Wales.  Merlin’s father, however, was either a demon or an incubus – thus making Merlin both the child of evil and the child of a servant of God.  This is also the origin of the story of the boy Merlin having the vision of the two dragons fighting for supremacy beneath Vortigern’s hill.  Here too, he becomes the advisor to two successive British kings, Aurelius Ambrosius and his younger brother Uther Pendragon.  After Aurelius’ death Merlin builds a memorial to the late king, in the form of Stonehenge, by magically transporting the stones all the way from Ireland.  This is also where we learn of Merlin transforming Uther into the likeness of his friend Duke Gorlis in order to seduce his wife, Ygraine.   Surprisingly, Geoffrey does not keep Merlin in the story long enough for him to serve as advisor to Uther’s son Arthur.
 
It is entirely possible that Bishop Geoffrey regretted taking Merlin out of the History of the Kings of Britain before installing Arthur on the throne because the only character that proved more popular than King Arthur was the old wizard who had so loyally served his father and uncle.  In fact, the character of Merlin proved so wildly popular that in 1152 - a full 15 years after writing the History of the Kings of Britain - Geoffrey released his third and last book, the Vita Merlini – the Life of Merlin. Curiously, although the main character seems to be the same man with the same supernatural powers, the Merlin we meet in the Vita Merlini has a completely different backstory than the Merlin we met in the Prophesies of Merlin and the History of the Kings of Britain.  While no logical explanation has ever been found for the disconnect in Merlin’s story, the mysterious dichotomy seemed to intrigue readers and make Merlin all the more popular in the ensuing centuries.
 
In the year 1155 – only five years after the death of Merlin’s creator, Geoffrey of Monmouth - Merlin again popped up in an adaptation of the History of the Kings of Britain that had been compiled by a shadowy figure named Wace who seems to have been born on the island of Jersey but spent most of his life in France.  The important thing for Merlin was that his story – and that of Arthur – had now been translated into Norman-French and in France their legends would take on new and more exciting roles than they had ever had before.
 
 
That’s about it for now, but both Merlin and I will be back next week.  Until then don’t forget to pick up your eBook copies of all three volumes of the Merlin Chronicles (including ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘Out of Time: book three of The Merlin Chronicles’) for just 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 1)
 
As all of my friends, fans and followers probably know by now, I am celebrating the holiday season by offering all three volumes of my Merlin Chronicles trilogy in eBook format for only 99 cents each.  That’s a whopping 80 percent off and while the monetary form may change the same deal is offered on Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.  You can find more coverage of Merlin, the big sale and book excerpts from volume’s one and two of his adventures on Books Direct Online at: http://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/the-merlin-chronicles-by-daniel-diehl.html
 
Before moving on to this week’s blog post I want to mention that one of my non-Merlin fantasy short stories – entitled "Hansel & Gretel: The Prequel" -  is being featured in the Wednesday, December 2 issue of Wordhaus Ezine.  You can find it at: www.Wordhaus.com.  Subscribe and have a fun new short story delivered to your email ‘in’ box every Wednesday. 
 
And now, on with the show.
 
Last week I looked at Merlin and his relationship to the wizard character in general.  Now I would like to continue by taking an in-depth look at the life and origins of Merlin in specific.  Over the upcoming weeks I will break down Merlin’s background and his history into five separate blog entries.  If you hang in there with me, by the time the new year dawns you will know almost as much about Merlin as most scholars of the Arthurian legends.  Ready?  Ok.  Here goes.
 
 
1 – The Merlin Legend.
 
The most enduring sub-genre of fantasy literature is unquestionably that of the Wizard Fantasy and all wizards in the big, wide world of fantasy date back to one specific and identifiable wizard – Merlin.
 
When I decided to write my Merlin Chronicles fantasy trilogy I did what any author accustomed to working in the field of non-fiction would do – I embarked on an in-depth research program so I could accurately base my Merlin on the Merlin of Arthurian legend.  It is my feeling that if a work of fiction is given a solid framework based in fact it will, for all of its flights of fancy, be far more believable and therefore more entertaining.  Lord Byron once wrote: “I hate things all fiction…there should always be some foundation in fact”.  I completely agree with His Lordship and I believed it was important to understand who and what the Merlin of Arthurian legend actually was – but the answers I found were nothing short of astounding.
 
In the first book of my Merlin trilogy – Revelations - Merlin introduces himself by saying: “my given name is Myrrddin Emrys ap Morfryn, it is a name of ancient origin, taken from the language of the Wealas; the Welsh to you.  I have also been known by many other names, but you probably know me as Merlin.”
 
So who is this character and what do we really know about him?  Is he no more than an iconic representation of the trickster figure who appears in different guises in hundreds of legends and sagas?  Over the course of my investigations I learned that – like the character himself – the truth was both elusive and just slightly magical.
 
It took very little time to establish that the Merlin character both pre-dates - and stands independent of - the Arthurian legends.  In the ancient Welsh legends where he first appears he quickly establishes himself as a man of mystery and magic whose life was surrounded by contradiction and controversy.
 
The Merlin of legend is shown in many roles and many guises.  He was a sorcerer, a shape-shifter, a prophet, a bard, an advisor and a tutor.  He appears as a young boy with the gift of divination and as an old man who served as advisor to four successive kings.  He appears as a madman who lives in the forest among the animals and he was a slightly lecherous old man who lusted after a girl in her teens.  He was a keeper of dark secrets; sometimes the last of the druid priests and at other times a Christian monk.  He is also the most written about and popular character to step out of the Arthurian legends.
 
Very early in my research I realized that the most difficult aspect of researching Merlin was going to be separating myth from legend and legend from fact.  To make this voyage of discovery as easy as possible for you, let us begin by looking at a basic outline of the fully developed Merlin legend as most of us know it.
 
According to legend, after the Roman withdrawal from the British Isles, a Welsh usurper named Vortigern hired a mercenary army of Saxons to help him conquer the southern kingdoms of Britain.  When the Saxons turned against Vortigern he attempted to build a stone fortress to protect himself, but the fortress continually collapsed before completion.  Vortigern’s druids told him that only the sacrifice of a fatherless child would solve his problems.   A young boy named Merlin, who was supposedly fathered by a demon, was brought before Vortigern, but before the boy could be sacrificed he had a vision in which two dragons, one red and one white, were fighting in a pool beneath the hill where Vortigern was trying to build his fortress.  Explaining that the dragons represented the Welsh and the Saxons, the boy told Vortigern to go elsewhere to build his fortress and thus saved his own life.
 
Merlin next appears as advisor to Uther Pendragon, king of the Britons, who lusts after Ygraine, the wife of his best friend and chief general, Gorlis, Duke of Cornwall.  Reluctantly, Merlin casts an enchantment which makes Uther appear in the likeness of Gorlis, allowing him to seduce Yrgaine.  While Uther is making woopie with his friend’s unsuspecting wife, his henchmen murder Gorlis.  Although Uther marries Ygraine, their child is raised in secret and only reappears after the death of Uther.  It is at this point that Merlin sets up the ‘sword in the stone’ test to prove the young Arthur’s right to claim the throne.  For obvious reasons, Merlin becomes Arthur’s trusted tutor and advisor.  This, in short, is the basic outline of the best known version of Merlin’s story.  But where did the story originate and what new, strange and different aspects did it take on in the ensuing centuries?
 
 
 
That’s about it for now, but both Merlin and I will be back next week.  Until then don’t forget to pick up your eBook copies of all three volumes of the Merlin Chronicles (including ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘Out of Time: book three of The Merlin Chronicles’) for just 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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Who Is This Merlin Person?
 
As promised, beginning today I will be celebrating the massive 99 cent sale on my Merlin Trilogy eBooks (which begins this coming Thursday, 26th November and runs through New Year’s Day) by putting together a series of blogs dedicated entirely to Merlin and all things wizard. 
 
I do, however, want to take a moment to thank Cecile Sune for her current coverage of Apparition Atlas.  You can find it on her blog at: http://cecilesune.com/what-is-a-ghost/, on her •Facebook at: www.facebook.com/cecilesuneblog on her •Book Blog at: http://bookblogs.ning.com/profile/CecileSune and on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/cecilesune/status/668865849688727552.  
 
But now back to the continuing adventures of the world’s favorite wizard.
 
Last week I looked at the protagonist of my Merlin Chronicles series, Jason Carpenter, and this week I want to take a look at his 5th century friend, the great wizard Merlin.  I think the place to begin is to look at the Merlin character, his origins and how he relates to the world of wizards in general.
 
Several years ago, while working on the manuscript for one of my Merlin Chronicle books, someone said to me that Merlin is nothing but a rip-off of Gandalf.  Wow.  I gently pointed out that the Merlin legend has been around for more than a millennia-and-a-half but Tolkien only created Gandalf in 1936 while writing ‘The Hobbit’.  This exchange did, however, get me thinking about the wizard and his place in literature. 
 
The Merlin of legend is shown in many roles and many guises.  He was a sorcerer, a shape-shifter, a prophet, a bard, an advisor and a tutor.  He appears as a young boy with the gift of divination, and as an old man who served as advisor to four successive kings.  He appears as a madman living in the forest among the animals, and as a foolish old man who lusted after an enchanted girl in her teens.  He was a keeper of dark secrets; sometimes the last of the druids and, at other times, a Christian monk or priest.  He is also the most written about, and most popular, character to step out of the Arthurian legends.  Because Arthurian tales date back more than a thousand years, and stories of Merlin are at least four centuries older than that, Merlin became the role model upon which all future wizardly attributes would be based.  In his capacity as the first wizard Merlin set three important roles that most wizard characters take on. 
 
1. Deus ex Machina – Literally translating as ‘god from the machine’ this was a device first used in Greek theater to clean up hopelessly confused story lines.  When the playwright couldn’t figure out a solution to a messy plot he simply lowered a ‘god’ character on a rope to magically make everything better.  It’s good to have magical powers. 
 
2. The Trickster – People with magical powers seem to be incapable of telling the simple truth.  The old gods all lied and included ‘catches’ in any promise they made.  When the Greek sage Apollonius of Tyana asked the gods for the ability to accurately foretell the future, they granted his request but arranged it so no one would believe him.  In ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Shakespeare’s mischievous wood sprite character named Puck delights in misdirecting and fooling humans.  A close reading of most versions of the Merlin character, including my own, makes it clear that telling the simple truth is far from simple for the great wizard.
 
3. Mentor – Because they are almost universally old (if not ageless) wizards often serve as the mentor or teacher to a story’s main character.  Merlin mentored Arthur, Gandalf mentored Frodo and Dumbledore (et al) mentored Harry Potter.  In my Merlin Chronicles books I have brought Merlin back to life with a new student who needs his advice, guidance and tough love at least as much as Arthur ever did.  This is our hero, Jason Carpenter, and Jason’s journey from socially awkward archaeology student to becoming a hero in his own right is a long, tortuous journey of danger and self-discovery…with more than a bit of wizardy magic thrown in for good measure.
 
 
That’s about it for now, but both Merlin and I will be back next week.  Until then don’t forget to pick up your eBook copies of all three volumes of the Merlin Chronicles (including ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of The Merlin Chronicles’ and ‘Out of Time: book three of The Merlin Chronicles’) for just 99 cents on Amazon.com, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada and Amazon Australia.
 
Till next week, please remember to ‘like’ Apparition Atlas, the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Inventors & Impostors, Nothing Left Sacred and Deluge on Facebook at:
 
Apparition Atlas at: https://www.facebook.com/ApparitionAtlas101?fref=ts&ref=br_tf 
 
 
Merlin Chronicles at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Merlin-Chronicles/479750768731838 
 
 
Nothing Left Sacred at:  https://www.facebook.com/NothingLeftSacred 
 
 
Inventors & Impostors at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Inventors-and-Impostors/121609467880143?fref=ts 
 
 
And Deluge at: https://www.facebook.com/DelugeTheNovel?fref=ts 
 
 
For those of you who have enjoyed the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Nothing Left Sacred, Deluge, Apparition Atlas and Inventors & Impostors, please take a minute to write a short reader’s review of any of them on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.   I sincerely appreciate it. 
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My guest post is now up on the Southern Writer's Magazine blog! :)
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