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Wizards: From Merlin to Faust (Myths and Legends)

Wizards: From Merlin to Faust (Myths and Legends) [Kindle Edition]

David McIntee , Mark Stacey
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

From the wise and mysterious soothsayer with his long grey beard to the deathless necromancer practicing his dark magics in a forgotten dungeon, wizards have captured our imaginations since the earliest days of human storytelling, presenting us with some of our greatest heroes and villains. This book collects the tales of the most interesting, popular, and important spell-casters, including such legendary figures as Merlin, Simon Magus, Zhang Guo Lao, Nicolas Flamel, Dr John Dee, and Johann Georg Faust, and examines their place in history and legend. Written in modern language, each tale captures the drama, the tragedy, and the wonderment that has ensured that these stories have survived the passing centuries.

About the Author

From the wise and mysterious soothsayer with his long grey beard to the deathless necromancer practicing his dark magics in a forgotten dungeon, wizards have captured our imaginations since the earliest days of human storytelling, presenting us with some of our greatest heroes and villains. This book collects the tales of the most interesting, popular, and important spell-casters from history, including such legendary figures as Merlin, Simon Magus, Hermes Trismegistus, Koschei the Deathless, Nicholas Flamel, Dr John Dee, and Johann Georg Faust. Written in modern language, each tale captures the drama, the tragedy, and the wonderment that has ensured that these stories have survived the passing centuries and then examines each tale in its historical, mythological, and thaumaturgic contexts.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 20722 KB
  • Print Length: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (20 May 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00J4ICUI4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #235,555 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful and enjoyable bite size book. 7 Aug 2014
By Koopa90
A very informative and enjoyable read. The book highlights a number of tales surrounding each 'Wizard' throughout history, giving you insight into different tales and cultures references and tellings of the person in question.
The art work is very neat, the artist had their artistic freedom, working off old tales and created some truely Epic looking artwork.
And the odd snippets here and there from actual historical books and manuscripts just add to the charm of this book.

A well thought out, written and enjoyable pick up and read book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Informative summary of Wizards 20 Sep 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Since I love all things mythical and magical, I found this book interesting, informative even, and quite fun. The writing is clear and there is a good mix of subjects. I especially enjoyed learning about the wizards I had no previous knowledge of. I read this on kindle and therefore could not fully appreciate the artwork, but I imagine that a paper copy of the book would reveal some amazing pictures.
I enjoyed reading this book, and it was easy to pick up and put down as the mood took me, and I will probably go back to it over and over!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Abra-ca-dabra, (Aramaic: "I create - what - I speak") 20 May 2014
By Pop Bop - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Osprey Publishing has an interesting series, almost a mini-imprint, titled "Myths and Legends". (Osprey is a military history publisher based in Oxford, but it is apparently branching out beyond its histories of specific army and military units.) A while ago I read their "Robin Hood", written by Neil Smith, and very much enjoyed his handling of Robin Hood as a figure of legend, literature and history. I gather there are many other books in the Myths and Legends series, addressing Troy, Hercules, Thor, Sinbad, Charlemagne, King Arthur, Jason and the Argonauts, and so on. In addition to books devoted to single subjects there are books that serve as compendia on particular themes, like "Dragonslayers" and this particularly rewarding collection, "Wizards".

Whether you read middle grade fiction, YA action/adventure, or adult high fantasy you have undoubtedly come across many of these wizards, or at least their names. Especially common are references to Dr. John Dee, Nicholas Flamel, and Hermes Trismegistus. And of course, Merlin, who must hold the record for literary appearances. While you probably recognize many of the names, the matter of who these men actually were, and how they came to be seen as wizards, may not be so well known. That's where "Wizards" steps in admirably.

The book is well organized. We start with an overview of a time period. Then we identify the wizards from that period. Each wizard is then introduced through a story or two, (or more), that displays the wizard's cunning, learning and prowess. This is followed by a treatment of the historical figure upon whom the wizard is modeled, and then consideration of that wizard's importance in literary terms. As a bonus there are numerous sidebars that address issues that are common to many wizards. So, you get mini essays about alchemy, or magical tomes, or words of magic. Additionally, the book is heavily illustrated, primarily with images of the wizards drawn from books but also of events and places important to that wizard's history or portraying that wizard through the lens of popular culture.

From the point of view of the reading experience, attitude and tone are important. This is not a Wiccan primer or a "Chariot of the Gods" kind of book. It is a good humored, thorough, personable treatment that is meant mainly to inform and entertain. This is not a serious academic study, (although it is not flippant or careless), and I wouldn't suggest quoting it in your doctoral dissertation on folklore. It is a popular treatment whose virtue is a light but informative touch, sufficient depth for the casual reader, a fast pace and appeal to a variety of interests. I learned about some characters who were new to me, picked up some new insights regarding wizards with whom I was familiar, and absorbed a little more historical and literary context. To me, that made this a good and rewarding read.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a decent if somewhat weaker entry in what is an excellent series 26 May 2014
By B. Capossere - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
I’ve been a huge fan of just about all the MYTHS AND LEGENDS series from Osprey Publishing, having given four stars to Troy, Robin Hood, and Thor; and 4.5 to King Arthur, with only Jason and the Argonauts standing out as a weak entry in the roll. Until now. The most recent text in the series (for me at least) is called Wizards, and I have to admit, I really looked forward to reading this, cataloging in my head all the fantastic options they’d have to choose from. It turns out though that I wasn’t look at the idea of “wizard” through the same prism as the editors at Osprey or authors David and Lesley McIntee, so maybe my reaction to the book is more my fault than theirs.

The text opens with a brief overview about the belief in magic, beginning with the shamans, and then the ways in which that belief changed over time. The authors cite Elsie Butler, listing several tropes of the “myth of the magus.” We then follow the same basic pattern: a retelling of a wizard’s adventure or two and then a look at the possible historical background of said wizard.

The wizards themselves are divided into several groups: The Original Wizards (Dedi, Hermes Thrice Great, Simon Magus), Wizards of the First Millennium (Virgil, Geber), The Wizard of Camelot (Merlin), Wizards of the East (Zhang Guo Lao, the Nameless Wizard), Wizards of the Renaissance (Nicholas Flamel, Benvenuto Cellini), The Golden Age Wizards (Francis Steward, John Dee, Faust), and Wizards today.

As is the norm with this series, concision is a main goal, and so the stories are quite brief, as are the histories. In many of the other texts, most of which had a singular focus (Arthur, Robin Hood), this was not a problem. Here, though, where the authors are covering an idea rather than a person, and then under the umbrella of that idea covering over a dozen individuals, the concision is more problematic. The stories are enough for a taste, but I found myself wishing for either a bit more depth of coverage for each or failing that wishing for more direct and complete links between these disparate figures.

That said, the “taste” one gets does offer enough flavor to pique the reader’s interest, which is one of the main goals of this series. It is not meant to be the entire journey, but more of a stepping off moment, and in this fashion, Wizards does mostly succeed. Like most readers (save the younger ones) who come to this, I already knew quite a bit about Merlin and Faust, was more than a little familiar with Virgil, Flamel Hermes, and Dee as well, and knew at least a little about Simon Magus and Steward, the others, especially the non-Western ones such as the Chinese Zhang Guo Lao and the Egyptian Dedi, were entirely new to me. I especially appreciated the author’s willingness to move beyond the western model, not just for the diversity but because the stories involving Lao were my favorites by far—told with a charming bit of humor and energy that really made them stand out.

The other stories varied in their interest and energy, though part of that might also be attributed to how fresh they seemed. Some were a bit more summative than narrative in nature, their language a bit flatter, but none were poorly told or dragged at all.

The histories are brief but generally informative and are enhanced by several sidebars, the use of which I’d say has improved since the first one or two in the series as Osprey’s editors have found a better balance between full text and sidebar. As with all of the others, the text is loaded with artwork, only some of which I was able to see due to the preview e-book version I had to work with. But based on what was available, the art is once again top-notch, including images of classic artwork, (Dore illustration of The Divine Comedy or of Merlin, for instance), photos of sites or texts, and original illustrations by Mark Stacey.

Wizards is a solid entry in the series, but because of how the concise nature of the books works against the text in this instance, and because of the flatter nature of some of the selections (and also, admittedly, perhaps because of it not meeting expectations that were solely my own), I found it to be one of the weaker books in Myths and Legends. It remains a decent starting point though, especially for its non-Western examples, and it has several gems in it thanks to Zhang Guo Lao.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Introduction 20 May 2014
By Jessica Strider - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Pros: covers several wizards, lots of good information

Cons: too short!

Like the other books in Osprey’s Myths and Legends series, Wizards is a great jumping off point for further research on the topic. The book covers a variety of wizards throughout history, first through an engaging story and then explaining what we know about the historical person or people that gave rise to the myths. Some of the wizards you’ll encounter in this collection are Hermes, Virgil, Zhang Guo Lao, Nicholas Flamel and Dr. John Dee. There’s a great mix of well known and not so well known figures and while most of the wizards mentioned are Western, there are a few famous Eastern wizards as well. There are some great images, both historic and new ones commissioned for this volume.

As with the other books, it is simply a beginners guide, and as such is definitely too short. But it’s a great volume and if you’re interested in wizards, alchemy, the occult or fantasy, you’ll find this an interesting read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wizards, A Collection 20 May 2014
By LibStaff2 - Published on
A small collection of men, historically and mythologically, considered wizards. The illustrations and pictures are great, but get the epub version so you can see them all. Wizards from different time periods and from all over the world are included. This work is introductory.

Net Galley Feedback
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, informative, and way too short. Another great entry in the Myths and Legends series. 22 July 2014
By W. McCoy - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
'Wizards: From Merlin to Faust' is another fun entry in the Myths and Legends series. These short volumes pack a lot of information into a scant 80 pages including some great illustrations.

This volume focuses on literary wizards from history. While the focus is mostly on Western civilization wizards, I enjoyed learning about Zhang Guo Lao as well as his familiar likeness in Asian art. Others in the volume include Virgil, Nicholas Flamel and Hermes. There are references to more modern wizards like Harry Potter and Gandalf, but nearly no time is devoted to them, and that's how it should be. Alchemy is discussed as well as forbidden books and the kinds of revenge that wizards will take on you if you cross them.

I've enjoyed most in the series, but this is the only one that felt like it could have been longer. That's probably in line with my preferences and it fits the page count of the rest of the series. It's a light reference series that has some great information packed in it's pages.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Osprey Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.
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