Adapting the Merlin legend into a novel

To draw your attention to another article I just published on the site, I just added a detailed examination of what in the first novel of The Swithen, Our Man on Earth, is from the original legend, and which parts I added. Since the entire series is based on the actual Arthurian legend of 1136 through Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur of 1485, every book in my series is going to be, to some degree or other, a development of earlier material. But when readers talk or write me about the books, they often ask “Is THAT in the original legend?” And usually the craziest things about the books are! But anyway, this article is there to sort out what’s embellished by me and what elements are in the original legend.

In this case, pretty much everything about Meylinde, Merlin’s mother, is added by me—including her name. Women have a very interesting place in Arthurian literature… it’s too reductive to say that they are ignored in favor of men, but often the men’s adventures take precedence (although the men do not exactly receive portrayal of their deep thoughts or emotions either). In this case, Merlin is clearly the star and was considered to be the POINT of the whole story, so in the legend, his mother is just “the mother,” and doesn’t ever even receive a name. I also mention in the article that the LONGEST version of her story is 20 pages… from which I wrote my almost 350-page book!

When I wrote the first version of the book, I also thought that everyone would also be just trying to get through the first part and only start paying attention once Merlin is born. At that time, I was also planning to follow the legend exactly and just DROP his mother once he leaves her, the way the legend does. But once I decided I couldn’t dump her, I got a more clear picture of the role she is going to play, I knew I had to go back and beef her up so that the book is really ABOUT her, and then in the second book, Merlin will move more into the fore. This led to my going back and revising the first book so that it really is the story of Meylinde, and she has a much more definite character of her own… she’s no longer just the person who brings Merlin into the world.

Some other quick previews: No one else in her family receives names in the legend, nor do the midwives or the judge… almost all of our main characters! Basically the only people in the novel who get names in the old legend are Merlin and Blaise, the hermit who goes on to write down what, we are told, becomes the record of the Arthurian saga. Oh, and all the stuff about the formation of Merlin’s mind is made up by me as well. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  Go to the article and find out what about the first novel is actually from the legend, and what’s added.

Let me know your thoughts, too. Those original legends are pretty wild… especially for 1215! Let me know what you think in the comments.

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