Subjects: Magical Fiction/Grail & Arthurian Myths & Legends.
“a wonderful book… in the same category as Alan Garner and Susan Cooper”
– Professor Ronald Hutton
‘This boy’s stupendous! He can see the past and see the gods. He’s seen the Lady of the Lake!’
A colossal Stone Age mound in Wiltshire is the legendary burial place of Merlin. When Jo’s father begins to excavate, Jo himself is drawn into an extraordinary adventure that unearths the mound’s true secret. It’s up to him to reveal it before it’s destroyed. And time is short.
‘A week ago he’d have laughed at this. Now he’s on the edge of a whole new world.’
This is a story for everyone with a taste for myth, visions and another reality…
About the book:
The Stone Age monuments at Avebury in Wiltshire are world-famous, attracting thousands of visitors each year. Two of the most dramatic are the enormous burial chamber known as the West Kennet Long Barrow, and Silbury Hill, the largest man-made mound in Europe. Less well known is Silbury’s “sister” mound at Marlborough a few miles due east, but this is nothing less than the legendary burial place of Merlin.
These extraordinary sites are the key locations of the novel Merlin’s Mound, in which an adolescent is awakened in startling fashion to their meaning and original purpose. It will appeal to everyone from the protagonist’s age upward with a taste for myth, legend and visions [Marlborough is surely the only town in Britain with an Arthurian motto – WHERE NOW ARE THE BONES OF WISE MERLIN – and Merlin’s Mound will appropriately be published on June 20th 2004, the 800th anniversary of the granting of Marlborough’s charter by King John who, as it happens, makes a crucial appearance in the novel…]
From Dragon’s Wood Magazine:
‘Meet Joel (Jo). He’s a nice lad. He likes football, he misses his mother (who is no longer with his dad), and he has the misfortune to have an obsessive and arrogant archaeologist for his father. Jo’s dad takes him on a dig in Marlborough Wiltshire to excavate what is locally known been as Merlin’s mound. Jo really doesn’t want to be there, he would rather be watching football or playing computer games. Indeed he calls Silbury Hill ‘another pile of prehistoric pointlessness’. Jo’s relationship with his father is fraught at best and certainly not helped by some of the comments his father makes to his son.
Things start to happen…
Jo meets Dag, Gareth and Mort, three enigmatic characters who will play an interesting role as the story unfolds. Joe starts to realise that things are happening, things that he has no explanation for, things that will cause him to question and wonder. As time goes on Jo is more and more against the excavation of the Mound. He ‘knows’ that below the ground something or someone is still in residence. Is it Merlin? His father is convinced that the Marlborough site is a burial mound of someone pretty special and that somewhere in the mound four and a half thousand-year-old treasure is waiting for him to get his grasping hands on. He doesn’t subscribe to the Merlin theory however. Jo on the other hand becomes more and more convinced that digging the mound is the wrong thing to do. It becomes his mission to reveal the true secret of the site and time is running out. What is that secret and ce of will Jo succeed?
Published by Mandrake of Oxford, Merlin’s Mound is listed on their website under the ‘young fiction’ genre. Certainly the content of this book will appeal to teenagers. However that should not deter older readers. I found this both entertaining and interesting and certainly some light relief from all those other heavy books we pagans tend to read.
The author Nigel Bryant, whose involvement with Arthurian matters is long-standing and obvious from the way he writes, brings the reader a lively contemporary tale which often challenges our ideas on modern archaeology. I was left wondering whether or not digging up the past is always the right thing to do. This is the type of story that is great for us oldies to read on lazy summer afternoons in the back garden. Youngsters will no doubt identify with the often anxed adolescent that Jo is and I highly recommend it to anyone from about 15 years old. ‘
This is a book aimed at a ‘teenage’ audience, and it’s easy to see the central character appealing to many a surly teenager! But this the tale of a special teenager with special gifts, which link everyday events and archaeology – the never ending search for scientific ‘truth’ and knowledge – to the sacred within and around us all, and to the sacred landscape of Wiltshire.
But it is a work that can be read and enjoyed by any age, the story a timeless tale, one that holds the reader spellbound, fully involved with events and engaged with the participants. The monuments of Avebury and Merlin’s Mount at Marlborough come alive on the pages, and the less well known mound of Merlins Mount is central to the whole story, as the title suggests!
The tale is well written and flows beautifully and evocatively, pulling the reader in and giving real involvement with what is happening, and how the mystery will unravel. Highly recommended.
NIGEL BRYANT v DAN BROWN
MERLIN’S MOUND author Nigel Bryant appeared on ITV’s much-publicised programme The Grail Trail (25.9.05) to attack the vision of the Holy Grail in Dan Brown’s THE DA VINCI CODE.
“It may seem strange,” he says, “that I laid into Brown for using the Grail as a symbol of the womb, of the sacred feminine, when that very thing is central to MERLIN’S MOUND. But the difference is that I’m using it knowingly as a symbol. And I don’t claim that MERLIN’S MOUND is anything more (or less) than a story.”
“The trouble with Brown’s book is that it’s a prime example of a dire new literary genre of pseudo-fact. Unfortunately, in THE DA VINCI CODE Dan Brown has swallowed hook, line and sinker the central thesis of a best-seller of two decades ago – The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – which can be demolished in 30 seconds. ”
“The theory depends entirely on a mistake caused by astonishingly sloppy scholarship. The play on words by which the SANGREAL (the Holy Grail) is supposedly a code for SANG-REAL (‘royal blood’) – leading on to the hilarious notion (after all, let’s just stop and think about it for a second) that a child born of Jesus and Mary Magdalene was the start of a bloodline which kept going in secret for 2,000 years – simply doesn’t work. Dan Brown lists a series of ‘facts’ at the start of his book; well here’s a fact he doesn’t mention: the spelling SANGREAL doesn’t exist in any French work. It’s a pun that works only in French, but no French writer ever used it. In French it’s invariably written SAINT GRAAL. The only person who ever did write SANGREAL was the 15th-century Englishman John Hardyng whose French wasn’t very good, so he heard ‘saint graal’, didn’t know how to spell it, had a guess and wrote ‘sangreal’. And on that simple mistake, almost akin to a typing error, is the whole wild theory based.”
“I’ve no problem with it, actually – the Mary Magdalene / bloodline of Christ idea’s a fun story – but claiming it (and other supposed ‘facts’ in Dan Brown’s book) to be ‘true’ is sad in the extreme. We’ve got to be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Pseudo-fact does no favours either for fiction or for history or, for that matter, for the world of symbols.”
“I’m seriously interested in the medieval Grail stories – hence my book The Legend of the Grail [Boydell & Brewer, 2004], which brings together the eight great French grail romances of the 12th and 13th centuries and creates from them a single, coherent narrative. Womb imagery is nowhere to be seen. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use the Grail’s potential symbolism and work it into a story of the sacred feminine in MERLIN’S MOUND. But I’m not going to do a Dan Brown and claim it to be ‘true’ in the sense of being a ‘fact’. Let’s all grow up a bit. The Grail doesn’t exist and never did. But it’s there even though it’s not there. It’s absolutely ‘true’, profoundly ‘true’, when you take it as a symbol.”