A Tale of Three Titles

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 !