An Arthurian fantasy. The "Dark Ages" of Britain's remote, myth-haunted past are brought to life. A. A. Attanasio's first novel, "Radix", was shortlisted for the Nebula Award.
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The demon Lailoken, as old as time, is tricked by Fire-lords and trapped in a human body. He becomes Merlinus, a wandering wise man expert in magic, destined to work for good among humans, opposed by the Furor (Woden). An encounter with the unicorn--a spirit similarly earthbound--brings him to Ygrane, queen of the Celts, and she sets him a task to find her king, a man seen in vision and fated to be her love-match. Merlinus-Lailoken seeks and finds him: Theodosius, a stable worker. But Ygrane has commanded the demon-wizard to bring her a king, so Merlinus sets to work making one.
This is an entrancing fantasy, drawing on everything from Norse myths to feng shui to build a magical, liminal Arthurian Britain.From the Inside Flap:
Old as the Big Bang, the demon Lailoken assumes human form in Roman Britain as Celts battle Saxons for mastery. The druid-queen he serves calls him Myrddin and sends him to find her true love--to fulfill an ancient prophecy at the frontier of life and death for her people.
Led by a unicorn and hunted by a dragon vast as the planet, Myrddin becomes Merlinus on his quest for the queen's mate among her remorseless enemies, the Romans. And finally as Merlin, he matches wits with gods and elves to unite Celtic queen and Roman warlord and weave the destiny of the most famous king.
In this first volume of Attanasio's Arthurian saga, all the core elements appear: chronicling Vortigern's defeat of the Saxons, the ascendancy of Theodosius Ambrosius (Uther Pendragon), the birth of Arthur and eventually Merlin's lodging the sword in the stone.
But in this vibrantly imagined world, the legends of northern Europe acquire their magical perspective from modern physics: Yggdrasil the Storm Tree fills the heavens as the magnetic field of the planet--the gods exist as electrostatic beings--and Merlin uses his humanity to disguise his true identity as a 'demon,' a hyperspatial mind created spontaneously out of chaos and known among thermodynamic theorists as a Boltzmann Brain. All of these marvels of science embedded in the twilight of Roman Britain, when the first Christian kingdoms of Albion fought for survival against ferocious pagan invaders.
An encounter with a unicorn, an interplanetary being of light, brings Lailoken to Ygrane, queen of the Celts, and she sets him a task to find her king, a man seen in vision and fated for her true love. Merlinus-Lailoken seeks and finds him: Theodosius, a stable worker. But Ygrane has commanded the demon-wizard to bring her a king--so Merlinus sets to work making one.
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