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Quest for Merlin Hardcover – 14 Feb 1985

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd; 1st Edition edition (14 Feb. 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0241113563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241113561
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 2.5 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 473,483 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Did Merlin really exist or is he a figure of legend? Do Merlin's prophecies mean anything and how are they related to other ancient cults, The Quest for Merlin is a new work of detection and analysis. dw, 1st ed.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By R. J. Bowen on 29 Sept. 2005
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book first time around many years ago, in a more innocent and impressionable frame of mind. I loved it.
The years passed. I lost the book, dwelt on other, more ordinary things. Then, upon the promptings of a friend, I rediscovered some long-lost territory.
For anyone who has any interest in Aurthurian legend, the 'Dark Ages', or, perhaps more appropriately, Jungian philosophy, this is a must.
A wonderful historical voyage that, taken with other great works by such as Leslie Alcock and John Wilkinson, really gets its point across - there may not have been an actual Aurthur, but there sure as heck was a lot of identifiable history about the story and some of the other characters.
It's settled for me: these stories come from Scotland, not Wales or Cornwall.
Buy! Read! Argue!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By P. Hunt on 21 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tolstoy's tale of the historical background to the legend of Merlin the magician is a rare mix of scholarship and colour. Its a real pleasure to read a book so packed with information and told with such enthusiasm and excitement. Tolstoy knows his subject inside out, and sets out his story vividly but without succumbing to misty Celtic fantasy. What he has to say is better than that. Reads like a novel. Brilliant.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Fantasic piece of scholarship. 9 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
You can't help but respect a book with a bibliography that's fully one-fifth of its size. Tolstoy's knowledge of Celtic lore is impressive in its depth and expansive in its scope. He draws from a deep well of myth, legend and written history to create an argument that requires no small amount of concentration to appreciate fully but is even more satisfying because of it. It was an amazing learning experience that I would recommend to any serious Celtic aficionado.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
The Quest for Merlin by Nikolai Tolstoy 14 Jun. 2006
By Cwn_Annwn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Much like what has been done in multiple books with Arthur and a few with Robin Hood, Tolstoy makes a case for Merlin being a real life person and tries to seperate truth from fiction with everything pertaining to Merlin.

Tolstoy delves into a lot of different areas in this book. He looks into the Lugh/Odin connection to Merlin and his final theory on Merlin is that he was a priest of Lugh/Odin. Tolstoy also thinks Merlin had no connection to the real Arthur. Besides that lots of interesting observations on dark ages Britain, Celtic Heathens, Taliesin, Lugh/Odin, shamanism, the Mabinogion and other Welsh lore, plus lots of other stuff.

I don't necessarily agree with everything Tolstoy comes up with in this but this book is still essential reading for Pan Aryan Odinists, or any student of Celtic Heathenry or Arthurian lore.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Wonderful Research Lots of good stuff about the world beyond the Wall in Briton, but... 16 Jan. 2015
By Phred - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Quest for Merlin is too scholarly to be a fun read. For a fairly sophisticated reader who is also a fan of the Arthurian Legends Tolstoy has much to teach. He overreaches his evidence, but this may add to the appeal for those who are less punctilious about rules of scholarship. This is not a bad book, but the appeal has to be limited.

Nikolai Tolstoy makes the conclusion that Merlin, the famous Merlin of Author and the Round table existed. Except that:
His name may not have been Merlin,
He lived long before the putative age of King Author
He may have been a Celtic troubadour , or a hermit priest or a warrior-prophet or a Druid religious leader of some type
Or Merlin may have been a title for the priest who supervised the religious site at Stonehenge

He may have links to 100's of other myths, legends and lore including the Norse Godhead Oden, pre-historic Indo-European tribes and if you squint hard enough, Jesus.

It comes as no surprise that Tolstoy believe that Merlin exists. Not because any definitive evidence exists, or is likely to exist but because Tolstoy passionately wants Merlin to exist. This kind of argument reads like a form of confirmation bias. That is the author wants something to be true, he finds facts as well as items barely better than lore and argues that these threads must mean what he says they mean. In this case often without listing any reasonable alternative interpretations.

Given that Tolstoy has sent himself on a mission that is almost certain to lack artifacts and must depend on written records from generations after the events and people he has targeted; anything other than tentative, tenuous conclusions looks like confirmation bias. In this case it makes for a better read but not better history or archaeology.

If we can agree that Tolstoy has let his enthusiasm carry him beyond his evidence, there is much in the Quest for Merlin to admire. He is a recognized scholar in the field of Celtic and Ancient Wales. Britian beyond Hadrian's Wall and before Roman time is a field wherein he has written several respected books. The footnotes indicate a vast amount of research. He demonstrates facility in the subtaties of long dead languages. His ability to link desperate sources is hard to imagine given that he was working years (Publication date 1985) before internet searches made this easy. It is not possible to believe that this book was easy to write, except by a person with a love for his topic.

Part of the charm of what is mostly an academic exercise is the willingness of the author to give himself to the romantic and the mystical. His focus remains scholarly. His personal feelings about religion are hinted at but not detailed until the epilogue.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Good Read 7 Jan. 2013
By fussey - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book just builds the myth and legend of Merlin even further. Makes you want to delve ever deeper into history to reveal the real Merlin.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This was a replacement for a lost copy. 27 July 2013
By Linda L. Bragg - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really liked this and had gone through it several years ago. That copy got lost in a move. Love the historical background given in it.
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