Fiction featuring Merlin

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The wizard Merlin features as a character in numerous works of fiction including Arthurian fiction. The following works are either told from Merlin's point of view or are based on the earlier legends of Merlin.

Comics[edit]

  • Merlin has made several appearances in DC Comics, often in association with the demon character Etrigan. In the Trials of Shazam he is a half-demon villain. He has also appeared in various animated series adaptations of the comics franchise, including Justice League and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
  • Merlin (Marvel Comics) has also appeared in Marvel Comics, in which he is portrayed as an otherdimensional being who gave Captain Britain his powers and led the multiversal Captain Britain Corps.

Feature films[edit]

Games[edit]

"Merlin imprisoned", a concept art for the 2012 video game King Arthur II: The Role-Playing Wargame

Various games, especially those with a magic or Arthurian background, include Merlin as either a character or just as a reference.

Literature[edit]

  • Merlin plays a modern-day villain in Roger Zelazny's short story "The Last Defender of Camelot" (1979), which won the 1980 Balrog Award for short fiction and was adapted into an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone in 1986.
  • Cyr Myrddin, the Coming of Age of Merlin by Michael de Angelo is the story of the early life of Merlin as he searches for his destiny.[2]
  • René Barjavel's L'Enchanteur (1984) features Merlin.
  • T.A. Barron portrays Merlin as a young man in his The Lost Years of Merlin series, and as an adult in its sequel series, The Great Tree of Avalon. Merlin also figures prominently in Barron's Merlin Effect, which may be in the same fictional continuity.
  • Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series includes Merlin as both a title (leader of the White Council) as well as a man responsible for the creation of the supernatural prison Demonreach.
  • Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series has Merlin as the central character in an Arthurian fantasy series about the battle between "the Dark and the Light". The child characters know him as "Gummerry" (contraction of Great Uncle Merry). He is also variously known as Professor Merriman Lyon, Merry Lyon, Mer-lion and Merlin.
  • Merlin is a Druid who rules over Avalon in Bernard Cornwell's The Warlord Chronicles. He is portrayed as an irreverent, lecherous, sarcastic and condescending mystic, revered and feared by both Britons and Saxons, who is obsessed with bringing back the old gods of Britain, so they can make the Isles their sacred realm again, expelling from it Christians, Saxons and all those who do not belong to the old way.
  • The Galician author Álvaro Cunqueiro published Merlín y familia in 1957. In it, Merlin dwells in the Galician forest of Esmelle and is visited by mythical figures seeking magical advice. It synthesizes Arthurian legend and Galician folktales.
  • Simon Green's Nightside series contains a character named Merlin Satanspawn, who is the son of the Devil and who was King Arthur's mentor and friend.
  • Merlin is the main character in Robert Holdstock's The Merlin Codex trilogy of mythic fiction novels, which traces Merlin's adventures in Europe over a span of two millennia, placing him alongside Jason and the Argonauts, and Urtha Pendragon. Merlin is also a major character in Holdstock's novel Merlin's Wood.
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon (writing under the name of Kinley MacGregor) includes a "Penmerlin Emrys" of Arthurian legend in her Lords of Avalon series.
  • Stephen King mentions a character called Maerlyn in The Dark Tower series of novels, as well as the prequel comic The Gunslinger Born. Although this Maerlyn is an adviser to an alternative Earth's version of King Arthur, he appears to be evil, as he sires the evil sorcerer Marten Broadcloak and creates the soul-corrupting Wizard's Rainbow.
  • Merlin (1988) and Pendragon (1994), the second and fourth book of Stephen Lawhead's fantasy Pendragon Cycle series, respectively, are narrated by Merlin (Myrddin) and seen through his viewpoint. Lawhead makes him a half-Atlantean king of Dyfed who goes insane, but recovers after years of living in the forests; he then assumes the roles of prophet, adviser, and bard.
  • C. S. Lewis used the figure of Merlin Ambrosius in his 1946 novel That Hideous Strength, the third book in the Space Trilogy. In it, Merlin has supposedly lain asleep for centuries to be awakened for the battle against the materialistic agents of the devil, able to consort with the angelic powers because he came from a time when sorcery was not yet a corrupt art. Lewis's character of Ransom has apparently inherited the title of Pendragon from the Arthurian tradition. Merlin also mentions "Numinor," a nod to J. R. R. Tolkien's Númenor.
  • Merlin (1978) by Robert Nye is a bawdy, anti-Christian version of the Arthurian story, as relived by Merlin after Nimue has trapped him. Though dedicated to Malory, it draws rather from the earlier texts, curiously intertwining references to Kaballah and explicit erotic passages.[3]
  • Merlin is one of the main characters in the Magic Tree House series of children's books by Mary Pope Osborne. He appears in the later volumes of the series, known as the Merlin Missions.
  • Merlin also appears as the antagonist in James A Owen's The Indigo King in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series. In the book, Owen discusses the development of Merlin into the Cartographer of the Imaginarium Geographica. Merlin comes from a place known as the Archipelago of Dreams where he was born Myrdyyn along with his twin brother, Madoc (who would later on become Mordred). He is portrayed as an ambitious and treacherous man who was banished from the Archipelago for trying to use knowledge of the future to shape it. He soon becomes a caretaker of the Holy Grail in the library of Alexandria, but is soon arrested for trying to steal it. He is able to escape however, and banish his brother in his place. He then travels to Britain (then called Albion) and changes his name to Merlin. Sometime after this, he becomes the apparent father of Arthur through the Lady of the Lake.
  • Merlin, called Aurelianus, is a character in Tim Powers' 1979 novel The Drawing of the Dark (1979), which describes the reincarnation of King Arthur, an Irishman named Brian Duffy, leading the forces of the West in battle against the forces of the East in 16th century Vienna.
  • Merlin, le faiseur de rois (2006) is a novel by Michel Rio.
  • In Chapter 19 of James Rollins' sixth Sigma Force novel, The Doomsday Key(2009), Father Rye and historian Wallace Boyd tell the group seeking the Doomsday Key that Bardsey Island was home to Fomorian royalty and that Merlin was a famous Druid priest, buried on sacred Bardsey Island with other prominent Druids.
  • William Rowley wrote a play title The Birth of Merlin (1622).
  • J.K. Rowling portrays Merlin as a famous or almost God-like wizard in her Harry Potter series, and refers to him as "The Prince of Enchanters".
    • The magical population uses the expression "Merlin's Beard" as a substitute for "My God".
    • "The Order of Merlin", mentioned throughout the books, is given to witches and wizards for great accomplishments, and is given in three classes, First, Second, and Third; it is similar to an OBE.
    • Merlin is featured on a Famous Witches and Wizards Collectors card; such cards are included with chocolate frogs.
    • Albus Dumbledore much resembles Merlin.
    • As in many other stories, Merlin is the enemy of Morgan le Fay.
    • The Harry Potter website "Pottermore" states that Merlin was a Slytherin.
  • Fred Saberhagen's novel Merlin's Bones is told partly from the perspective of a young Merlin.
  • Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy. "Myrddin Emrys" (Merlin Ambrosius) is the protagonist of the first two novels, The Crystal Cave (1970) and The Hollow Hills (1973), which are based on earlier traditions of the character, as shown above. The last book of the trilogy, The Last Enchantment, and a related book, The Wicked Day, focus more on Arthur and Mordred, though the former is still told from his viewpoint. Stewart portrays Aurelius Ambrosius (brother to Uther Pendragon) as his father, and thus makes him Arthur's cousin. Here Merlin goes mad due to Morgause's poison.
  • Arthurian scholar Nikolai Tolstoy (a relation of Leo Tolstoy) wrote a non-fiction book, The Quest For Merlin (1985), and a historical fantasy, The Coming of the King (1988), the first of an unfinished trilogy. The latter book's depiction of Merlin may be the most historically accurate of all, since he lives after Arthur's death. The hero Beowulf even appears as an invader.
  • Mark Twain made Merlin the villain in his 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He is presented as a complete charlatan with no real magic power, and the character seems to stand for (and to satirise) superstition, yet at the very last chapter of the book Merlin suddenly seems to have a real magic power and he puts the protagonist into a centuries-long sleep (as Merlin himself was put to sleep in the original Arthurian canon).
  • Robert Weinberg in this books A Logical Magician (also published as A Modern Magician) 1994, and its sequel A Calculated Magic 1996 portrays Merlin as an being brought into existence through belief and possessed of all the powers general belief grants him. It's the '90s and Merlin has to recruit a hero to save the world using logical devices (electronics) to defeat the chaotic forces of evil.
  • T.H. White's 1958 Arthurian retelling, The Once and Future King, in which "Merlyn", as White calls him, has the curious affliction of living backwards in time to everyone else. This affliction also appears in Dan Simmons' Hyperion as the "Merlin sickness." A related novel is The Book of Merlyn.
  • Merlin is a central figure as guardian and teacher of the eventual King Arthur in Jack Whyte's nine-volume series The Camulod Chronicles. The series presents a full retelling of the Arthurian legend with entirely natural explanations of the magical abilities attributed to Merlin.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' book The Merlin Conspiracy, Merlin is not one person, but a title. The Merlin is entrusted with the kingdom's magical health.
  • Marion Zimmer Bradley's 1979 The Mists of Avalon retells the Arthurian legend with Morgan Le Fay as protagonist, in the tradition of John Gardner's Grendel. It includes two distinct characters who, in succession, hold the title of "The Merlin of Britain," an office which grants leadership of the Druids in the same way that "The Lady of the Lake" is the title of the high priestess of Avalon. The division of the Merlin character of the Arthurian canon into two different persons enables Bradley to have in the early part of the story an elderly, fatherly Merlin to be Arthur's mentor, and in the later part – a younger Merlin with whom Nimue could fall tragically in love. This usage ("the Merlin") has found its way into a fair amount of subsequent Arthurian fiction.
  • Books based on British TV show Merlin (2008) feature an adolescent Merlin in King Uther's Camelot, including television episode stories.
  • Merlin's Mirror by Andre Norton, tells the story of the half-human, half-alien Merlin.
  • Kristine Papin Morris explores Merlin's emotional childhood in the Merlin of Carmarthen[4] series featuring Merlin of Carmarthen[5] and Merlin of Calidon.[6]
  • Merlin is an important figure in films and television programs, where he functions often as a teacher or mentor figure, a role that he shares with other wizard and wizard-like figures in popular texts, such as Gandalf the White.[7]

Music, musicals, and operas[edit]

Television[edit]

Other cultural references[edit]

  • Adobe Photoshop has long included an Easter egg featuring Merlin in a miniature dialog box entitled "Merlin Lives!", with a cartoon depiction of the wizard and a single button, "Begone".

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jennie M. Morton, "Of Magicians and Masculinity: Merlin and the Manifestation of the New Man," in: Culture and the Medieval King, ed. Christine Havens, Keith Russo, and Richard Utz, Special Issue (4.1, Spring 2008) of UNIversitas: The University of Northern Iowa Journal of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity
  2. ^ Goddin Publishing. 2009 http://www.gododdinpublishing.com.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Nye, Robert (1978). Hamish Hamilton. ISBN 0-241-89952-4.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Kristine Papin Morris: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  5. ^ "Merlin of Carmarthen eBook: Kristine Papin Morris: Kindle Store". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  6. ^ Kristine Papin Morris (Author) (2013-06-06). "Merlin of Calidon (Merlin of Carmarthen) (Volume 2): Kristine Papin Morris: 9781490381206: Amazon.com: Books". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  7. ^ Torregrossa, Michael A., “Merlin Goes to the Movies: The Changing Role of Merlin in Cinema Arthuriana,” Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies 29.3–4 (1999): 54–65; Torregrossa, Michael A., “The Way of the Wizard: Reflections of Merlin on Film," in The Medieval Hero on Screen: Representations from Beowulf to Buffy, eds. Martha W. Driver and Sid Ray (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2004), pp. 167–91.