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Merlin made his first appearance in literature in the early 12th Century in Prophecies of Merlin by Geoffrey of Monmouth.
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Fiction featuring Merlin
Many parts of Arthurian fiction include Merlin as a character. Mark Twain made Merlin the villain in his 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He is presented as a complete charlatan with no real magic power, and the character seems to stand for (and to satirise) superstition, yet at the very last chapter of the book Merlin suddenly seems to have a real magic power and he puts the protagonist into a centuries-long sleep (as Merlin himself was put to sleep in the original Arthurian canon). C. S. Lewis used the figure of Merlin Ambrosius in his 1946 novel That Hideous Strength, the third book in the Space Trilogy. In it, Merlin has supposedly lain asleep for centuries to be awakened for the battle against the materialistic agents of the devil, able to consort with the angelic powers because he came from a time when sorcery was not yet a corrupt art. Lewis's character of Ransom has apparently inherited the title of Pendragon from the Arthurian tradition.
Merlin is also portrayed in the T. A. Barron series The Lost Years of Merlin and The Great Tree of Avalon. Merlin is a major character in T. H. White's collection The Once and Future King and the related The Book of Merlyn. White's Merlin is an old man living time backward, with final goodbyes being first encounters, and first encounters being fond farewells. Mary Stewart produced an influential quintet of Arthurian novels; Merlin is the protagonist in the first three: The Crystal Cave (1970), The Hollow Hills (1970) and The Last Enchantment (1979). Merlin plays a modern-day villain in Roger Zelazny's short story "The Last Defender of Camelot" (1979), which won the 1980 Balrog Award for short fiction and was adapted into an episode of the television series The Twilight Zone in 1986. Additionally, the last five books in Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber star a character named Merlin, with seemingly little to do with Arthurian legend, though other references to the legend seem to hint at a connection. Merlin also plays a major role in Stephen R. Lawhead's The Pendragon Cycle. Here Merlin is the child of Taliesin and the Lady Charis (who is also known as the Lady of the Lake). He is the last child of the race who sought refuge on the Isle of the Mighty (Britain) when Atlantis fell into the sea, and thus is blessed with long life and power. Merlin becomes a king in his own right, the High King of Britain, but after losing his beloved in war he flees to the wilderness. He is later found by his loyal servant and sets on a quest to find the new High King of Britain and bring about Taliesin's vision of the Kingdom of Summer. He eventually finds Arthur, who he believes to be the true High King of Britain, and acts as his chief bard and aide. In this series, unlike most, Merlin is a champion of Christianity. In Bernard Cornwell's best selling trilogy "The Warlord Chronicles" (The Winter King (1995), Enemy of God (1996), Excalibur: A Novel of Arthur (1997)) portrays Merlin as an eccentric, charismatic and arrogant Druid, feared by Britons and Saxons alike, who struggles to restore the pagan ways of the pre-Roman Britain in face of the rapid proliferation of Christianity.
Bryan Davis's two series Oracles of Fire and Dragons in our Midst both introduce Merlin as a contemporary prophet from the Aurthurian era. Merlin is also the name of the private plane the Bannister family owns and flies.
Merlin is also referenced in the Harry Potter series as a great sorcerer from the past. His name is used in Oh My Gosh moments. "What in the name of Merlins most baggy y-fronts was that about?"
Merlin is also a recurring character in Simon R. Green's Nightside series, appearing as dead but able to manifest himself through a direct blood descendent, Alex Morrissey, through sheer will.