When I was a little girl before I first went to school, I fell in love with everything to do with adventure and the glories of the past. My mother and the local library had a great deal of trouble keeping up with my insatiable desire for books and magazines with an historical bent. I didn’t care if the subject matter involved the builders of the pyramids in Egypt, the priest-kings of Mesopotamia, or the marvels of bull dancing in Knossos on the island of Crete.
I remember the visceral thrill of reading The King Must Die, by Mary Renault, and the other novels that flowed from her pen. I revelled in the poetry of Tennyson and the novels of Sir Walter Scott. I was fascinated by a Mayan society that could care for orphaned children with compassion and humanity, yet sacrifice these same children in times of drought, as they were sent plunging into the lightless depths of a bottomless pool wrapped in golden chains and jewels of great price and rarity. I loved it all!
Once I reached my teens, I became more discriminating and gave up the scatter-gun effect of my reading. If I devoured an historical novel and was interested in the period, I hunted through text books with an obsessive desire to discover everything I could about the period – and there was no particular pattern to my research. I didn’t care if I read good literature or popular novels, because it was all the same to me. Georgette Heyer introduced me to Regency England; Leo Tolstoy fascinated me with War and Peace and two popular American writers, Zane Grey and Margaret Mitchell, seduced me with two vastly different periods and stories from the history of that great, vast country. Riders of the Purple Sage marked my interest in the West, Utah and, by association, the fascinating history of the Mormons. And then, long before I saw the movie, I adored the history of the American Civil War through Gone with the Wind.
And then The Lord of the Rings sent me scrambling after all things Celt and Anglo-Saxon. I really must have been a very odd teenager, because on the one hand, I was obsessed with the Beatles recording of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band, while devouring the poetry and paintings of William Blake on the other. I was driving the small library in Ipswich, Queensland, crazy with demands for everything they had on Macbeth, historical and literary, while studying The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and I remaining besotted with the Kapok Kid in HMS Ulysses.
In between my voracious demands for stories of historical interest, I pursued technical information – anything to do with warfare, swords and sudden death. My girlfriends were convinced I was really quite weird since I was half in love with my notion of William the Conqueror and Julius Caesar. By the time I was at university, I was content to just sit in their huge libraries where anything and everything I wanted to discover was at my fingertips.
For years, that thrill remained as real as the life I lived – often far more real to me! Perhaps I have always been a dreamer, but I loved to teach Ancient History, using stories to bring the ancient world to life for my students. The glow of young eyes as they listened awestruck to the deeds and exploits of great men and women fired me up and kept me excited for years.
And then, when I finally became a writer, I began with a study of my first love, King Arthur, and the legends of the Arthuriad. Perhaps my love for the legends was because my husband shares a name with the venerable hero. Perhaps, I was just so upset because the story had become so bastardised over the years that I decided to put my own mark on it. And perhaps I wanted to honour human courage rather than magic. Whatever the reason, I am certain that there are so many stories in the great sweep of history that are so vivid, compelling and riveting that I will never lack for subject matter.
A lifetime would not be enough to explore them all – but I intend to try!
M. K. HUME
I have just achieved the Holy Grail of Literature!!!!
When the first books in my Arthuriad were published by Headline Review and released throughout the English-speaking world some four years ago, I was over the moon. My books were about to be released by one of the largest publishers in Britain and they would be marketed world-wide by Headline’s massive distribution network.
At the time, I was disappointed that our agreement didn’t include North America, which is the ultimate market for authors of quality historical fiction.
However, within a couple of years of the first releases of my novels, I was compensated when a few foreign translations were published in a number of European countries.
Shortly thereafter, a publisher from Rio de Janeiro gave me a publishing deal that would get me into all of South America. I was overjoyed, but there was still no sign of being able to break into the prized North-American market.
Then, two months ago, under a brilliant Queensland sky, came a phone call from my truly amazing literary agent in London. “I’ve got you into the States!!!!”
“Who with?” was the totally inadequate reply of an overawed and incredulous M.K.Hume.
“Simon & Schuster US in New York! They have bought all eight (8) of your novels in the Arthuriad in an unprecedented eight-book deal that covers all of North America!”
As we went on to discuss the nuts and bolts of the offer from this huge company, most of the detail was slipping seamlessly over the top of my head, for I thought I was dreaming and would soon wake up, pinch myself and be disappointed because it wasn’t really happening.
And then the actuality of it all began to seep in as I realised the amount of work that had to be done to get the eight books into the American marketplace. I would have to thoroughly proof-read each of the eight books to ensure that they were perfect, despite having previously been on the international market for some time in their original British format.
Also, the order of release would have to be altered. While the King Arthur trilogy had been released before the Merlin trilogy had been presented for publication, it was understood that S&S would want to release the Merlin books first to give strength to the chronology of the period in which the Arthuriad was set. Merlin was older that Arthur, so his novels should start the series off.
I would also have to defer my next major projects for about six months or so while I re-scheduled my time to allow for proof-reading and editing chores.
And so there are many people to thank for all that has happened in recent month, not least being my agent and friend, Dorie Simmonds. There are so many individuals to thank that I look forward to passing on my compliments over a glass of “good white” because I’d never have made it to the starting gate without you fine people to help me along the way.
I thank you all for your support, and I hope we’ll be together for the next fifty years or so.
Marilyn (M.K. Hume)
A hundred years or so ago (or so it seems) when I was teaching, students used to accuse teachers of making up the writers’ intentions. Shakespeare, in particular, probably never intended half of what has been ascribed to him by critics.
However, I’ve discovered that writers do insert treasured literary ideas or symbols into their work. They can’t help it.
Perhaps initially, the author might not intend to use symbols so deliberately, but the device is eventually recognised, realised and developed. This very same thing happened to me, so I know it’s real. (more…)
When I was a younger woman, Steve Vizard ruled the television stations of Australia. Plugging into the distinctly Australian sense of humour, he came to epitomise a funny, penetrating and intelligent ‘TAKE’ on Australian life and their mannerisms. I admired his wit and brilliance enormously and never imagined that I would speak with him one day.
So, when my publicist informed methat I would be interviewed by Steve Vizard on MTR (Melbourne Talkback Radio) I had no idea how I was going to conquer my nerves, speaking to someone I earnestly admired. (more…)
In the months before the release of Prophecy: Death of an Empire, I found myself terrified. After four books, you wouldn’t expect to be particularly frightened about the process, but this novel is different from the first four, and is different to novel number six that is the next one to be released by Headline later in the year.
With Death of an Empire, I was on my own because there is no pre-existing legend to underpin. I was writing about a period in Merlin’s life where there were only vague references about him disappearing into the “wilde woods” for about ten years or so and then magically re-appearing to become the mentor and advisor of the young King Arthur.
I could not accept that our Merlin would leave the life of medicine, of political machinations, of warfare and of the life he had chosen for this amount of time. I didn’t believe this scenario at all, and when I found references in some ancient, esoteric sources to a healer man who undertook a journey similar to that taken by “My Merlin”, I decided to model my Merlin on this particular character.
Writing Death of an Empire was exciting, challenging and so much fun because I learned many new things. Choosing what elements of history that Merlin would see and experience was a thrill, especially as I could use these factors in the process of Merlin’s growth in character. I was also off to new places, new skies and new scents. I had already undertaken my own personal pilgrimage to Istanbul and Asia Minor and stayed in exotic parts of the world such as Athens, Rome, Ravenna Alexandria and other parts of Europe to research this novel and get a feel for these places. Everywhere I went, I found that the shadows of the past remain imprinted on the present. In Istanbul, I slept over a 4,000 year-old harbour that hadn’t changed in all that time. Homer would have seen that harbour and been as familiar with it as the old man on the bicycle, fishing line over his shoulder, going out to catch his breakfast. I sat in the window seat in a very old inn so close to the water that I could have dived into it. I felt the ghosts of the thousands of those people who had spent their nights in this room looking at the same scene. There was nothing scary about them, and they seemed to me to be “shades” of people who had lived good and productive lives.
Nothing existed in the accepted sources of the legend at all, so I was free to make of it what I wanted.
Now that the novel is out in Britain, I am getting cold feet and I wonder if I made the right choices, even though I know I took the only possible line, given the wonderful history of the period. The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains was majestic and blood-drenched, as is the murder of Flavius Aetius by Emperor Valentinian, the murder of Valentinian and the murder of the emperor, Flavius Maximus. All of these details are so marvellously dramatic – BUT THEY ARE TRUE HISTORICAL EVENTS. I couldn’t invent the impact of these historical occurrences. And I wouldn’t attempt to do so, even if I could, because no rational person would believe that all that drama takes place in such a short period of time, namely 451-454 AD.
I know that historians will probably hate what I’ve written because I like to put a human face on the characters from history. They were once alive and were people like you and I. Nor do I like to make them all good or all bad (With the exception of our beloved Targo). How can we judge these people? And so I enjoyed bringing Attila the Hun to life. I had paintings to go on, which helped, as I did with the Romans. Only in their case, various sculptures provided the resource. Those faces, heavy set with power or thin and avaricious, sparked my imagination more than anything else.
Which leads me to a handy hint for any aspiring historical writers.
If you are able to find sculptures or paintings/mosaics of your historical characters, search them out, for our natures really are imprinted on our faces.
As my good friend Pauline says, I have “+”*&% you, eyebrows”, and I hate to admit that that’s the way I often use them.
Anyway, I’ve done the best I can with this book. I am very proud of it, as is my partner, Michael, who played a huge part in the research, presentation and nuts & bolts parts of the project. He gets a smile on his face every time he thinks of this novel despite the fact that we have moved on and have written a few more novels since Death of an Empire.
Death of an Empire is all me, so I have now discovered that I can write a plot as riveting (hopefully) as my versions of the legend. Only you, the readers, will decide and that’s the way it should be. As Book Six has it its own “nasty” problems involved in its creation, the character of Merlin must advance. So I’d like you to decide if I’ve made him real for you.
I await your decision. As always, let me know what you like – and what you hate. I’ll do my best to answer you all.
All the best,
As seen by
Doctor Marilyn Hume
Researching the history of Myrddion Emrys Merlinus, or Merlin, almost drove me crazy.
It was quite difficult to create a heroic and intensively masculine character from the Dark Ages who can never be a warrior, can never win renown in battle or can stand as a ‘manly’ man in a world that judged its males by their fighting skills. Before I wrote a single word in the Merlin series, I knew that my Merlin had to be anything but a warrior.
As an aristocrat (which all the legends accentuate), he was born to be a leader of men and develop the fighting prowess that would make such a role possible. But the Merlin of the Arthurian legends was a fatherless bastard who was widely reputed to be the son of a demon. The societal rules of the time ensured that he couldn’t become a heroic warrior through legitimate means. So I spent an incredible amount of time considering the implications for a little boy. I had to accept that:
- He could never be a real man by the yardstick of his society;
- He would become an object of fear and loathing because he was supposed to be the child of a demon;
- Merlin’s birth resulted from a brutal rape. Today, this is acknowledged as a very traumatic situation, for the child is always perceived as being different; and
- As an aristocrat by birth, he would be forced to live on the charity of his family.
Any young person would be traumatised if they had such a start in life in modern times, so you can imagine how much difficulty Merlin would have experienced when he was growing up in the years immediately prior to 450AD. No self-respecting youth with any spirit would want to live as a peasant, so there was a need for this young lad to find a special purpose in life.
All-in-all, the character of Merlin posed a number of problems for me. What man wouldn’t hunger to meet his birth father? Would Merlin have wanted to know? Or would he have simply accepted the fiction that his father was a demon and simply got on with his life? I waded through these considerations, one by one, and I tried to ensure that everything hung together accurately. I wanted to follow the original sources.
By the time that the first novel in the trilogy, PROPHECY: CLASH OF KINGS, was written, I knew that it was time for me to make massive decisions on the content and characterization of the second and third books in the series. In my prognostications, I was always aware that the great writers of yesteryear had built into the legends a period of some ten to fifteen years in his life where he was believed to have disappeared into the “Wilde Woods” where he became a hermit. In the legends, he went from being a reasonably well-documented wimpish youth to becoming an intelligent adult who was an advisor to kings and influential leaders. Not for me! I doubt that Merlin would have sat on his thumbs in the woods and done little but talk to frogs for ten years or so.
I decided that my Merlin would travel to Constantinople in search of his father who was a man of influence in the halls of the Eastern Roman Empire. In the process, he would travel with a group of fellow healers who would hone their surgical and medical skills among the world’s greatest practitioners.
Before they could begin their epic journey across the continent, my Merlin would be forced to escape from the tangled lives of the Kings of the South-West where he held such sway. Along the way, I had the opportunity to use the characters of Hengist and Horsa (the legendary Saxon/Frisian warriors) and the Celtic kings, Vortigern and Constans (his predecessor). I used the legend of the Night of the Long Knives to my advantage, for Hengist is reported in the legends to have exacted a bloody revenge for the murder of his brother, Horsa. Again, my research and plot lines were built on a practical, realistic base that followed the legends all the way. I was falling in love.
And then I discovered the treasure-house of The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains that took place near Chalons in France in 451AD. And I began to research Flavius Aetius, the very last of the great Roman generals. All of which is worth reading, straight off the internet.
Later in the novels, I would have to deal with inconsistencies in the character of Merlin as presented by the legends. For example, how could Merlin pretend to be a good man if he willingly colluded with Uther Pendragon to rape Queen Ygerne and murder her husband, King Gorlois, through the use of magic. He was able to spirit Uther into Tintagel (wearing the face of Gorlois) and was able to trick Ygerne into betraying her husband. These details simply do not gel with a man of honour, and this was a major moral dilemma that I would be forced to rationalise and justify.
As I said earlier, no clues were given in ancient Arthurian Literature to Merlin’s middle years except to imply that he became a hermit and spent many years living in the “Wilde Woods”. I considered this to be an unlikely scenario and decided that my healer should be sent to the seats of learning where he would be able to hone his craft in Rome and Constantinople.
As part of my research, I spent a month living in the Old City section of Istanbul and studied the remains of the old civilization in Constantinople founded by Constantine. I was amazed at the results of my research. For example, I was curious as to what religions the peoples worshipped in the 5th and 6th centuries. The answer surprised me because the populace was roughly 50% Christian and 50% Hebrew. I was fascinated by this largely useless piece of information, given the current turf wars in the Middle East and the schism that currently lies between Islam and Christianity.
My research showed that there are deep inconsistencies in Merlin’s characterization in the legends. To make my Merlin the essentially noble character I intended him to be, I had to rethink the nature of Uther Pendragon and what that monster would do to get his own way. What were Merlin’s weaknesses and how could they be used against him?
The historical Merlin lived in a time of enormous political change as the Roman Empire gave way to the movement of tribes from the frozen North and the focus of power became centralised in Western Europe. The northern tribes found new lands in France and elsewhere and settled down to till the soil and build new kingdoms, and the face of Europe became the ancestor of today. For the next fifteen hundred years, the power shifted to Western Europe and never again would Rome possess any political power, except in religion. In fact, modern students of history can find it difficult to imagine that The City of the Seven Hills managed to rule the known world so successful for such a long period of time. While Britain, Spain, France and Portugal possessed large colonial empires around the world, none of these nations ever matched the Roman political influence.
Merlin lived in a period where one power gives way to another. Through the eyes of my hero, I am able to show the terrifying changes that came to Europe with the passing of order and civilisation. I have been fascinated by the whole process, and I hope you enjoy the novels.
I especially hope that the term, The Dark Ages, is seen by you as a misnomer, for the period wasn’t dark and uncivilised, but rather a time when all the old rules were disappearing and new ones were struggling to take their place.
Dr Marilyn Hume.
Hi to everybody. I hope all is well in your world.
I have been getting a lot of requests from people seeking advice on the technical aspects of writing, especially how to get started and the golden rules of what to do and what not to do.
I’ve written a bit of a blurb on the things I found I had to learn, and the rules I had to follow to help me when I was getting started.
The entire article is about ten pages, so what I’ve done is put the introduction here on the website. If you send me a mail to let me know you’d like the rest, I’ll e-mail you back with the balance of the article. Best of luck.
PART ONE - GENERAL
Regardless of whether people choose to write as a hobby or as a means of earning a living, and regardless of the genre or the length of your work, certain rules apply.
When I use the word ‘rule’, I do so hesitantly, because rules can be broken for artistic reasons – and they are, constantly. Some modern writers feel free to cast away punctuation, grammar and even spelling in their search for self-expression.
Regardless, there are rules, and they should only be broken from a position of knowledge.
People who write for a living tend to learn the rules very quickly.
SOME THOUGHTS FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION
When your work is getting close to being ready for publication, find yourself an agent. Agents get 99% of the business, and the other 1% is just sheer luck.
Writers are “commodities”. Your work is not sacrosanct and a publisher can change whatever they want (within reason). A wise writer chooses when to fight their publisher and when to “cave in” to superior power. Once a contract is signed, they own your intellectual property and their business is to make profits out of it if there are any to be made.
* There are styles that publishers use, and formats that you must learn to meet their requirements. You may even have to use grammatical systems that you might hate.
* Publishers expect your layout, grammar, presentation and detail to be near-perfect. Their Creative Editor will make suggestions for additions or deletions, and then their Technical Editor will take the whole manuscript to pieces as they hunt for weaknesses, flaws & errors.
* If you reach the stage where you are published, the object is to sell your books. That means you have to consider your target audience, understand them and recognize their existence. I don’t mean that you have to change your writing style for them, or write in ways that don’t come naturally, but if you wish to be a professional author, then your readership is vital to your success. There’s no point in writing if no one ever reads your work.
* Develop a thick skin. If you are published, someone will catch you out on small details and let you know about it, regardless of the genre. Some critics will hate your writing – and will say so. But you have to take it in your stride – for you have no recourse to criticism. Use it as a learning experience, and accept that you can, and probably will, come under fire from time to time.
The balance to follow on request to email@example.com
A few people have asked me who’ll figure in “The Twilight of the Celts” book series when they are eventually released (after the final Merlin Book is published). All I’m allowed to say at this stage is that the series tells us what happens to the Celtic peoples after the death of King Arthur, and that the characters in the novel are the heirs of King Arthur, ably led by a Welsh hero called Taliessin.
The response is always the same.
Who exactly is Taliessin ??
Some of the historical sources describe two Taliessins.
The first of these was Taliessin Pen Beird. He was a reputed shape shifter, the greatest poet of his time and a Master of Music. In many of the ancient sources of the Arthurian legends he is variously the son Merlin and Nimue but in others his mother is Ceridwen, the Celtic goddess who was the champion of her people.
In other sources, Taliessin is described as a special patriot and symbol of Welsh resistance to the invaders who attacked Cymru from the North and the East.
The reason for the discrepancies between these two men (if there were two) is because of minor time differences in the records. It must be remembered that most histories were maintained by hand in monasteries by monks and most of their records have been destroyed over time.
After all this time, it is difficult to differentiate between them if there are in fact two Taliessins but I’d like to believe that the man was such a great inspiration to the Celtic peoples that he should in fact be one and the same person.
Taliessin was Alfred Lord Tennyson’s idea of King Arthur’s singer and fool in The Idylls of the King, but I couldn’t make Taliessin into such a ‘nothing’ character. For me, he will always be the offspring of Merlin and Nimue, and as extraordinary as such a child would have been.
For MK Hume, it is “Two for the price of one”.
Meanwhile, I ‘m charging through my special project and I’m rather excited by it. Of course, I spend a lot of time working on it because I have to get back to my Arthurian work, but my editor is over the moon about this one. I’m doing it for me!!!! And, if my publishers should allow it to see the light of day, I hope you will all like it.
It’s twisted; amoral and yet moral; it’s violent and yet psychologically satisfying at the same time.
1. Merlin was reputedly born at Caer Fyrddin which is now modern Carmarthen. Today, the city claims its oldest, legendary son and several businesses are named after the seer.
2. Merlin was named Myrddin Emrys for the Sun God of the Celts. For further details, read the works of John Rhys, the Welsh scholar.
3. Merlin was reputed to be a shape-shifter, a statesman and a magician.
4. According to legend, Merlin’s father was a demon who raped his royal mother.
5. According to legend, Merlin was captured by Vortigern, the High King of the Britons, whose tower in his castle at Dina Emrys kept falling down.The king’s magicians told him that he must seal the stones of the tower with the blood of a demon seed.
6. Merlin escaped being sacrificed by Vortigern by prophesying that a pond could be found under the foundations of the tower. There, two dragons, one of ice (white) and one of fire (red) were fighting in a death struggle. The red dragon would eventually defeat the white. Merlin then went on to predict many wonders in the future, so Vortigern allowed him to live.
7. Merlin was reputed to have built the Giant’s Dance (Stonehenge) as a memorial to the High King, Ambrosius. This was eventually proved to be untrue as the structure pre-dated the Dark Ages.
8. During his youth, Merlin is supposed to have lost his family and to have become quite mad with grief.
9. Merlin served Uther Pendragon during the High King’s reign. According to the legends, Pendragon admired the intelligence of Merlin although they had no liking for each other and Uther did not trust his servant.
10. Merlin is reputed to have the ability to transport himself across the country by the use of his magic. He is believed to have been preternaturally wise.
Merlin- Prophecy: Clash of Kings, the first novel in my “Dark Ages” trilogy, came into being because one of the readers who enjoyed the King Arthur series wondered how Myrddion ( Merlin) would have been when he was a young man in those days before King Arthur arrived on the British landscape.
The idea appealed to me. Apart from being not quite ready to let the Dark Ages, and Arthur, go, I suddenly saw a whole new sweep of the history of the Arthuriad. Never one to take an easy, straight-forward path when a difficult one beckons, I began to write the first three manuscripts of what proved to be the prequel to the Arthurian Trilogy, of which Merlin- Prophecy: Clash of Kings is the first novel. Basically, my history of the Kings of Britain consists of:
1. Prophecy: Clash of Kings. (Merlin)
2. The Lord of Light. (Working title). (Merlin)
3. Hunting with Gods. (Working title). (Merlin)
4. Dragon’s Child. (King Arthur)
5. The Warrior of the West. (King Arthur)
6. The Bloody Cup. (King Arthur)
7, Book 1 of The Twilight of the Celts. (Taliessin)
8. Book 2 of The Twilight of the Celts. (Taliessin)
With these eight (8) novels, I feel like I’ve finally outlined my vision of the world of King Arthur.
Prophecy is a really exciting departure for me because so little has been written about Merlin as a child or as a youth. Mary Renault wrote The Crystal Cave, et al, but there have been surprisingly few interpretations of the legendary magician. What we do know about him covers his early life to the age of ten or so, and his part in the birth of Arthur at some point in the future.
What the story of Myrddion Emrys offered me was the chance to put my own stamp on a very old story (Gods, I never thought I would ever be able to say such a thing). As authors, it’s not enough to write a very old tale in a new way for we all desire to create. Is it a God complex, perhaps? Regardless of why I needed to create my own world of Merlin, I decided I had to attempt the difficult task.
Those who have read Dragon’s Child and the other Arthurian novels, know that my Myrddion Merlinus is a healer, a man with the god-like power to save lives as a scientist of great skill. What provided all the challenges of the Merlin trilogy was an opportunity to explain how he became the contained, aesthetic man of Dragon’s Child, while using whatever fragmentary legends were available to build a background to this powerful, enigmatic character.
What do we really know about Myrddion Emrys, as the Welsh still call him, and could he ever have lived? The evidence available to us is contained in the few manuscripts from about a thousand years or so in the past that refer to him. These include Geoffrey of Monmouth, Nennius, Malory and others whose works refer back to other manuscripts, long lost and irrecoverable, from which they drew their information. From these, the following legends can be drawn:
- He was born at Caer Fyrddin (Moridunum).
- He is reputed to have died at Caer Gai.
- He was a prophet and was reputed to be a Demon Seed.
- He was said by some to have built Stonehenge, which is impossible, but there are references to a link with the Giant’s Dance.
- His name translates as that of the Sun God.
- The authors of old aver that Vortigern intended to sacrifice him at Dinas Emrys, but the young Merlin claimed to have seen two dragons, one red and one white, struggling for ascendency over each other in an underground pool. Vortigern accepted his tale and set him free.
- Years later, Merlin served Uther Pendragon and devised a way for the High King to rape Queen Ygerne, wife of Gorlois, after arranging the death of the king of Cornwall.
- The rape results in her impregnation and Arthur is the result of this union. Merlin saves the infant and ensures that he is sent away to a safe place where he can grow in peace.
- Later, Merlin assists Arthur to succeed Uther Pendragon as High King and serves the young man in a number of roles.
Could Merlin have lived?
I am inclined to believe he was a real person, but he had to be a far more extraordinary man than a mere magician, which is the simplistic reasoning of superstitious people. He had to be a genius, a king-maker, a courtier and an advisor of remarkable talent to earn the soubriquet of magician.
During the Dark Ages, anyone who could cure an abscess, a broken limb, an arrow wound or a head injury was believe to be a magician because he could cheat the inevitability of death.
Merlin was reputed to be a shape-shifter, which caused me to experience some mental gymnastics.
Why should you read my Merlin?
Besides the fact that I’d like you to, there is so much history in Britain and on the continent that we have ignored in the past, but which has shaped the current face of Europe. And it’s exciting stuff!!! The Merovingian kings, the Visigoths, Hengist and Horsa, Ambrosius Imperator, Flavius Aetius who was Rome’s last great general, the Fall of the Roman Empire, the power of Ravenna and the emergence of Attila the Hun from the darkness of Eastern Europe is just a taste.
So many vast and wonderfully important things happened in Merlin’s life time.
Until I started researching these novels, I had no idea how wrong the title of the Dark Ages is. This was an era of incredible richness, history, courage and change – sweeping change – that marked the end of the ancient world and the emergence of Modern History.
Perhaps we still retain a race memory of the importance of that far-off time? Perhaps we weary of casual lies and the decay of our civilization, so we look for hope? I don’t know – I can’t know, being a child of my time, but I’m sure that there is much we can learn about our Western World if we look backward into our past and see the mistakes made for what they really are – the lessons of history !