The World's Oldest Legend Dramatically Retold

DELUGE

A Novel of Noah and the Flood
         by Daniel Diehl

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New Horizons and Old Wizards

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on January 19, 2016 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

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.

 

Creepy Thrills

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on January 12, 2016 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

I want to dedicate this week’s blog to a review of two books by David Morrell. Maybe you have never heard of Mr Morrell – I know I hadn’t despite his having authored three dozen books including ‘First Blood’ (1972), ‘Rambo, First Blood Part II (1985) and ‘Rambo III (1988) on which the Rambo movies were based. But I’m not here to talk about John Rambo or Mr Stalone, but another of Morrell’s characters, Frank Balenger and his adventures in Morrell’s’ ‘Creepers’ (2005) and ‘Scavenger’ (2007).

 

Booth of these novels are supremely taught, building tension at a consistent pace that is guaranteed to keep you riveted to the page from start to finish. After reading hundreds (if not thousands) of books and writing more than two dozen of my own, I seldom find myself hesitant to lay a book down and then wanting to get back to it as soon as possible – but I made exceptions in the case of these two thriller adventure novels. I’m not going to ruin the tension with needless spoilers, but suffice it to say that Morrell’s plots in both of the Balenger novels involve kidnappings that end with the protagonists trapped in life-threatening situations that they cannot possibly understand and have virtually no control over. This unusual combination of plot elements often leaves the reader as confused as the heroes, but that is an integral part of the fun in these books. If you are a fan of tensely woven thrillers and quick flowing prose I highly recommend ‘Creepers’ and ‘Scavengers’ as a rollercoaster ride well worth taking.

 

 

 

 

 

As Porky Pig used to say at the end of Loony Tunes cartoons – Th, th, th, that’s all folks. At least for now, but I’ll be back next week, so until then 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.

 

A Sale's End and a Fresh Look at Wiizards

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on January 5, 2016 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

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.

 

Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 5)

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on December 29, 2015 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

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.

 

Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 4)

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on December 22, 2015 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

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.

 

Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 3)

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on December 15, 2015 at 6:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 3)

 

In parts 1 and 2 of this series we looked at the fully developed Merlin legend and at his origins in the work of a twelfth century English monk and bishop, Geoffrey of Monmouth. Shortly after Geoffrey’s death in 1150, the Merlin legend had made its way to France where both the Merlin and Arthur characters – as well as a number of newly created spin-off characters – experienced a popularity in France that they had never enjoyed in their native Britain.

 

But first, 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, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and other fine websites across the English speaking world.

 

And now, back to Merlin

 

 

3 – The Development of Merlin as a Character

 

In 1180 Merlin became the central character in an epic poem entitled simply Merlin written by the French poet Robert de Boron. Tragically, only a few scant fragments of de Boron’s poem survive but an early prose version of the story shows us that Merlin had now become the engineer behind Arthur’s upbringing and the initiator of many of Arthur’s political policies. More importantly, in this new version of his life, Merlin has become – for the first time – both a Christian and a full-fledged wizard with an unnatural ability to foretell the future, to shape-shift and for the first time he is shown to be the initiator of strange, unsettling and often cruel practical jokes. It is in de Boron’s writings that both Merlin and Arthur are, for the first time, associated with the Holy Grail.

 

As though Merlin had not been given enough new tasks by Robert de Boron, in the same year de Boron wrote his Merlin poem – 1180 - the old sorcerer appeared in a biography entitled The Life of St Kentigern, written by French author Jocelyne de Furness. If this direct, and supposedly factual, connection with a real-life saint were not legitimization enough, Robert de Boron brought Merlin back in 1210 in his new work Perceval – which became the backbone of all future accounts of the Arthurian version of the grail legend.

 

The translation of de Boron’s poetic life of Merlin into prose became known as the Vulgate cycle of Merlin which was released in 1210 - the same year de Boron published his Percival. The prose Merlin, along with a prose version of Percival brought the wizard and the grail legend to the widest and most enthusiastic audience it had yet found. While the grail cycle would eventually become the most far-reaching aspect of the Arthurian legend, it is with its continuing metamorphosis of Merlin that we are primarily concerned.

 

To advance the storyline, Boron caused Merlin to appear in many, many different shapes and as many different characters. In his first transformation he is a woodcutter in a torn coat, with bristly hair and beard. Later, in an encounter with one of Uther’s men he is disguised as a man so ugly as to be nearly deformed and is described as tending a great herd of wild beasts. In succession he next appears as a handsome young man and a beautiful boy. Later, he appears to Arthur in the form of a fiercely cruel, half-wild peasant and, finally, he comes in the form of an ancient hunchback with a long beard, driving a vast herd of wild beasts before him with a large club.

 

These many aspects of Merlin fired not only the imagination of French readers but also of writers. In the years after the appearance of the prose Merlin, the adventures of Merlin, King Arthur and his knights and their quest for the Holy Grail continued to grow. In a series of stories collectively known as the Vulgate Suite du Merlin – or Vulgate Merlin Continuation – we first hear about Arthur’s adventures as a boy and young man and how Merlin advised and taught him the things he would later need to know to become an effective leader. In the later Livre d’Artus – or Book of Arthur – Merlin is seen entering Ancient Rome in the form of a gigantic stag where he confronts no less than Julius Caesar and offers to interpret a dream that had been troubling Caesar. Later, in an attempt to outdo all of his earlier transformations, he appears as an 18 foot tall hunchbacked giant with ears hanging to his waist and whose hands and feet are on backwards.

 

Not surprisingly, these fantastic tales inspired writers in many countries to write their own versions of the Merlin stories. In an Italian work entitled The Prophesies of Merlin we see a return to the earliest Geoffrey of Monmouth style writing with the Italian author having his Merlin forecast the outcome of 13th century Italian political policies. Eventually, inevitably, Merlin and his royal master found their way back home to England where, shortly before the year 1300 an unknown writer reimagined the French story of Sir Lancelot and the quest for the Holy Grail and published it under the title Arthur and Merlin. Here, for the first time in England, we see the full, familiar cast of Arthurian characters: Arthur, Uther his father, Guinevere, Sir Gawain, Sir Lancelot, Sir Kay and, most importantly, Merlin serving as the power behind the throne.

 

The number of English and Welsh versions of the Merlin story which were written over the two centuries between 1300 and 1500 are unknown and, in all likelihood, uncountable. In some of the stories Merlin was primarily a wizard while in others he had no magical powers but was a prophet and seer who could foretell the future. Sometimes he was a Christian monk or priest and sometimes he was a Celtic druid. Sometimes his only motivation was the salvation of Britain and Arthur, while in other versions he was viciously wicked. Having been created by Geoffrey of Monmouth during the tumult of England’s first civil war between Kind Stephen and Empress Matilda, Merlin’s most enduring incarnation would come in the midst of England’s second civil war – the dynastic struggle between the House of York and the House of Lancaster known as the Wars of the Roses.

 

 

That’s all for today, but I will be back next week with another installment in the long and wonderful story of the world’s greatest wizard. 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.

 

Merlin: The First Wizard (Part 1)

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on December 1, 2015 at 12:25 AM Comments comments (0)

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.

 

Who is this Merlin Person?

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on November 24, 2015 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

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.

 

Merlin Returns

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on November 17, 2015 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

For those of you who have not been made aware of the fact, next Thursday, November 26th, is a very, very special day. No, no, not Thanksgiving (that day when you are forced to set through a coma-inducing meal with some insane uncle or brother-in-law who screams that only sissy commie Nazis read books and have thoughts). You get to suffer through that garbage every year. I mean that the 26th of November is the day when the first and only giant sale on the Merlin Chronicles trilogy begins. That’s right – on the day BEFORE Black Friday you can grab the first deal of the holiday season by snagging all three Merlin Chronicle eBooks for just 99 cents each. That’s 80 percent off the regular price of $4.99 each. For our friends in England, Scotland, Wales, Canada, Australia and New Zealand the 80 percent discount also applies – it is just figured in pounds Sterling or local dollars. The sale will run continually from that date through New Year’s Day 2016 – that gives you a full 37 days to upload Merlin to your personal device at a price that you simply can’t afford to pass up.

 

 

Between now and the end of the sale we will be blogging about various things Merlin and wizard related, so if you have any wizard-loving friends, tell them that now is the time to start reading Dan Diehl’s blogs.

 

 

Next week I will begin a five week long look at Merlin but I want to start by reintroducing the protagonist of the Merlin Chronicles trilogy, Jason Carpenter with a little entry I like to call:

 

Harry Potter vs. Jason Carpenter

 

On a recent visit to my favorite watering hole, the bartender slid my bottle of Yeungling across the bar toward me, leaned his heavily bearded face into mine and said “So what makes your Jason character better than Harry Potter?”

 

Having never considered it a contest between the two fictional, leading characters I didn’t know quite how to answer the question. Now, on reflection, I think there are a number of different answers. On the one hand they really can’t be compared because they inhabit very different worlds. In the world of Harry Potter little boys can be chosen to go to wizard school and even before they reach puberty they are working complicated magic spells and risking their life in the fight against the forces of evil. Jason Carpenter’s world, while still fantastical and magical, is a lot more like our own; life still consists of a day-to-day reality that is recognizable to most of the readers. The magical bits – that is to say the appearance of Merlin – involve Jason but, as is true of reality, they swirl around him while he is incapable of directly influencing them. The best he can do is hang on for dear life, hope he survives the ride and work on achieving whatever destiny life holds in store for him. As the trilogy progresses Jason becomes more integrated into the world of magic, but by the end of the third book Jason has aged more than half a dozen years and spend all of that time dealing with the fantastical changes that Merlin has wrought on his life.

 

For me, however, the biggest difference between the boy wizard and Jason Carpenter is their respective ages. Harry Potter, for all of his pluck and bravery, is still a kid. He is not 19 or 20 year old Daniel Radcliff, he is 14 or 15 year old Harry Potter. Jason Carpenter, on the other hand, is a man. While his age in the first two books is only hinted at in a general way, we know he is in graduate school working on his doctoral degree so he has to be at least 24 years old. That gives him a full decade on young Mr Potter and at that age a decade is almost half of a lifetime. While I know there are people in their 60s who went ape over Harry Potter, I have to assume that Ms Rowling’s intended reader was in their mid-teens. I designed Jason to appeal to an older, more sophisticated crowd of fantasy readers. The audience for The Merlin Chronicles trilogy doesn’t want to be a teenager and has reached the point that buying into the concept of ‘wizard school’ is just too much of a stretch. They are, however, enough of a romantic to know that no matter how implausible it may seem, it is just possible that magic really does lurk somewhere in the world – even if you have to dig it up with an archaeologist’s trowel.

 

 

That’s about it for now, but I’ll be back next week with my whiskery wizard friend in tow. Until then 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.

 

New Reviews, Old Wizards

Posted by danieldiehlbooks on November 10, 2015 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

 

 

 

Before moving on to the heart of this week’s blog I want to thank the nice folks at Book Goodies for the very nice interview that they conducted with me last week. Unlike a lot of author interviews the questions they put to me were surprisingly fresh and even occasionally off-the-wall and I very much enjoyed it. You can find the full interview at Book Goodies.com here:

 

http://bookgoodies.com/interview-with-author-daniel-diehl/

 

 

With that little pleasantry out of the way I do want to remind everyone that starting on Thanksgiving Day – that’s Thursday, the 26th of November – and running through New Year’s Day 2016, all three volumes of The Merlin Chronicle trilogy will be on sale in eBook format only for the incredibly low price of just 99 cents each – that’s a full 80 percent off the regular price of $4.99. If you buy all three you save a whopping 12 bucks. And for my readers in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zeland – yes, Merlin is on sale where you are, as well so grab him before he vanishes back into the mists of time.

 

Over the upcoming weeks my regular Tuesday blogs will all be concentrating on various things Merlin and Merlin related, so all of you wizard fans take note and don’t miss them. But today I want to do something that I haven’t done for quite some time; share a review of a book that I recently read. And this one – entitled ‘What’s The Worst That Could Happen?’ was a whale of a lot of fun.

 

The main character in this novel by Donald Westlake is a bit of a sad, spiritless creature named John Dortmunder. Dortmunder (nobody calls him John) is an inept, smalltime crook and that fact alone makes him a pretty unlikely hero for any sane novel but ‘What’s the Worst That Could Happen?’ is far from sane. This 1996 entry was the fifth in Westlake’s ‘Dortmunder’ series and it is unquestionably one of the most unhinged things I have ever read. Opening innocently enough, Dortmunder is given a middling quality gold ring by his longtime lady-friend, May, who received the ring from the estate of her uncle. A few days later Dortmunder and one of his ne’er-do-well crook buddies decide to break into a billionaire’s summer cottage which they have been assured is vacant. Obviously the house is occupied, and by none other than the greedy, violent billionaire who is upstairs busily banging one of his mistresses. Holding Dortmunder and his co-conspirator at gunpoint while he summons the cops, the filthy rich monster adds insult to injury by stealing Dortmunder’s new ring. Incensed, outraged and humiliated Dortmunder spends the remainder of the book cooking up one insane plan after another to retrieve his ring. From Washington DC’s notorious Watergate complex to the sleazy excesses of Las Vegas, Dortmunder and an ever-expanding circle of unlikely (and often inept) cohorts exhibit criminal levels of mayhem and hilarity as they pursue their filthy rich nemesis. If you like crime novels with more twists than the Los Angeles freeway system you will never do better than Donald Westlake’s Dortmunder series, and particularly ‘What’s the Worst That Could Happen’.

 

 

It may be worth mentioning that with the completion of the Dortmunder book I graduated from print books to an electronic tablet. I only did so because at some point in the not-too-distant future I am going away for an extended time and don’t want to pack a shipping crate with books. I don’t think the e-reader will ever replace the warm fuzzy feeling of a real book, but for transient reading material I have decided they are mighty handy.

 

 

So that’s about it for today, but next week I will begin concentrating on our old friend Merlin…he has threatened that if I neglect him much longer he will turn me into something slimy and too nasty to mention.

 

Until then 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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