3/6/15

Daniel Diehl Day 4

Which Merlin is this? –

Since my most popular character seems to be Merlin the great Magician, I would like to
move away from fat King Henry for a minute and talk about how I, as an historian, came to write
a fantasy series about a man how only exists in myth and legend…or does he?

Students in one of my writing classes asked me if any of the characters in the Arthurian
romances were based on real people.  While the standard answer is ‘maybe, but we just don’t
know’ there is really a lot more to it than that.

While Arthur himself may or may not, be based on any one or more people, and others
like his adulterous wife, Guinevere, and his numerous knights are certainly fictitious the most
implausible of all, Merlin, was actually a very real person and it is on this man that I based my
Merlin.  Much frustratingly incomplete work on tracking down the historical Merlin has been
done but, briefly, this is pretty much what we know.

The real Merlin, like the character in my ‘Merlin Chronicles’ trilogy ‘Revelations’, ‘The
Sorcerer’s Apprentice’ and ‘Out of Time’, was of Welch origin, was named Myrddin Emrys ap
Morfryn (Myrddin, or Merlin, translating as Eagle), lived roughly between 480 and 570 A.D. and
he was either a Christian monk or a priest.  Among the verifiable historical characters that he
seems to have known was the Saxon warlord known as King Vortigern, who we meet in ‘The
Sorcerer’s Apprentice: book two of the Merlin Chronicles’.  Merlin would have been just a boy
when he encountered Vortigern sometime around 490 – 510 A.D although I have placed their
meeting half a century earlier to coincide with the Arthurian legends.

It seems that, like my own Merlin, the historical Merlin attended a battle to give spiritual support
to his liege lord and that the sight of the slaughter drove him mad.  What, precisely, he raved
about as he wandered through Wales, northwestern England and southwestern Scotland is
unknown but, like my own Merlin, villagers were frightened by this half wild man and drove him
off in a hail of sticks and stones and calling him Myrddin Wyllt, meaning Merlin the wild. 
Supposedly, in his madness, Merlin had gained the ability to ‘see’ or make prophecies and the
belief in his power to foretell the future brought him to the attention of many in high places.

Whatever it was that the old man was raving about it seems to have hit too close to home
for a petty war lord named Rhydderich Hael (translated as Roderick the Generous, which he
obviously was not).  Hael fancied himself king of Strathclyde and kept his ‘castle’ – actually a
fortified hill fort – at what is now Dunbarton, Scotland and seems to have been, at one point, a
friend of Merlin’s, possibly inviting him to court as an advisor.  What Merlin might have said, or
why it upset Hael, we will never know but there is some surviving evidence that Hael ordered the
old man’s murder which took place near the mouth of a Strathclyde river at the point where it
emerged from an underground cave. 

In the third and final installment of ‘The Merlin Chronicles’ – which will be released by
Ravenswood Publishing in April 2015 – I bring in a host of new characters who are, or more
correctly were, real people during the Arthurian period.  Chief among them are Ambrosius
Aurelianus, who is purported to have been Arthur’s uncle; Colgrim, chief warlord of the Saxons;
Hoel, King of the Bretons and Duke Aegidus, leader of the Franks.

There are still numerous writings which purport to have been executed by Merlin but
unfortunately there is scant evidence to support these claims.  But the historical Merlin retains
deep roots in his homeland of Wales.  The oldest inhabited town in Wales is named Carmarthen,
which is a corruption of two words; the first being ‘caer’ often used to mean castle but actually
translating as ‘place of refuge’.  The second part of Carmarthen came from, as you may have
guessed, Myrddin.  Hence, Carmarthen literally means Merlin’s place of refuge.

To learn more about the real Merlin I recommend the following two books in the order they are
presented ‘The Quest for Merlin’ by Nikolai Tolstoy and ‘Chasing Merlin’ by Sarah White.  To
read my Merlin Chronicles trilogy go to the Merlin pages at the Ravenswood Publishing website
at: http://gmtapublishing.com/bookpages/revelations.html or
http://gmtapublishing.com/bookpages/thesorcerersapprentice.html or
http://gmtapublishing.com/bookpages/outoftime.html


Revelations (The Merlin Chronicles  #1) The Sorcerer's Apprentice (The Merlin Chronicles Book 2)

1 comment:

Search This Blog

Julie's Book Review

Hello, all my followers, visitors, and guests. Welcome to Julies Book Review. This is a site dedicated to helping authors and readers alike. Readers to find new authors and stories and authors to find new readers. For authors please contact me if you are interested in low cost promotion at juliesbookreview@gmail.com. I accommodate where I can. Readers please go through and search the blog. We have been active here for a while. Hundreds on authors, stories and genres to choose from. We have everything from sci-fi, erotica, romance, contemporary, mystery and horror. And nothing gets on this site without a 3 out 5 star rating minimum. I have several reviewers that read different genres. If you are interested in reviewing for me and the site please contact me at the above email. I hope you enjoy the site. I look forward to meeting and talking with you all.

Julie Ramsey & Theresa Fehse
ADM of JBR
Along with many reviewers (which we could not do this without)

Amazon SearchBox