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David McIntee, Lesley McIntee
In Print
Osprey Adventures (2014)

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This entry created 23 September 2020. Last revised on 23 September 2020.

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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From Merlin to Faust

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80 pages. Color illustrations throughout. Contents page, introduction, author and illustrator notes, and selected bibliography.

Volume 9 in the Myths and Legends series, this book provides mini-biographies of people once considered wizards. For each wizard, the author provides the legendary tale, followed by their historical biography.

The book is organized chronologically:

The Original Wizards
Dedi (known from from Egypt papyrus), Hermes-Thrice-Great (2nd century legend), Simon Magus (Christian legend)
Wizards of the First Millennium
Virgil (Roman historian), Geber (Arab scholar)
The Wizard of Camelot
Wizards of the East
Zhang Guo Lao (Chinese priest/Taoist Immortal), Nameless Wizard (Aladdin's wizard)
Wizards of the Renaissance
Nicholas Flamel (bookseller), Benvenuto Cellini (self-confessed necromancer)
The Golden Age Wizards
Francis Stewart (5th Earl of Bothwell – accused Satanist), Dr. John Dee/Edward Kelley (Elizabethan mathematician), Johann Georg Faust (astrologer/physician)

The reader might be disappointed to discover that this book does not cover such fantasy wizards as Gandalf and Voldemort. Due to the format, the reader first is given the fantastical version of a wizard's life, followed by the historical version, which is almost always a let-down. For instance, Flamel was just a bookseller; the tales of him being an alchemist came long after his death. Virgil, because he was the author of the Aeniad, was presumed centuries later to be a sorcerer. Simon Magus, a bribe-taking Christian, somehow became a legendary apostle-fighter. So you might say there are no actual wizards in the book!

It's a quick read, and might inspire further reading.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.