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The True History of Merlin the Magician

3.22 of 5 stars 3.22  ·  rating details  ·  18 ratings  ·  4 reviews
Merlin the Magician has remained an enthralling and curious individual since he was first introduced in the twelfth century though the pages of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae. But although the Merlin of literature and Arthurian myth is well known, Merlin the "historical" figure and his relation to medieval magic are less familiar. In this book Anne Lawren ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 27th 2012 by Yale University Press (first published October 15th 2012)
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The writing is as dry as burnt toast. The author easily accepts the notion of a historical Merlin despite providing no evidence of Merlin being mentioned by his contemporaries, which would seem to fall anywhere from the era of Julius Caesar to after the Roman abandonment of Britain. I often found myself confused about what sources were being used, the timeline of a particular anecdote and often wondering what point the author was trying to make. The most interesting part of the book for me was h ...more
Chris Davies
Some people seem to be missing the point about this book. It is made very clear at the beginning that Merlin was invented by Geoffrey of Monmouth, but for four hundred years people believed he was real. This book is about the history of the character during that period. So you will find no attempts to discover the 'real' Merlin here, because that person did not exist. I found it an interesting read, giving a different perspective on changing attitudes to magic and prophecy during the period. I a ...more
Every time I discover another non-fiction author who writes so well, so interestingly, that I simply can't put the book down, I consider myself lucky.

Ms. Lawrence-Mathers is not one if those authors. Further, she presumes much in the the way of baseline knowledge, meaning I had to read with a computer near to hand so I could look up what I was reading.
Gwen Burrow
Fun ride through history's different thoughts of (and reactions to) the great Merlin, but Anne Lawrence-Mathers misses out because she can't (or won't) make any judgment calls on whether Merlin was good, bad, or both. Or why.
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