Merlin, seer and wonder-worker at King Arthur's court, makes his debut in the highly inventive History of the Kings of Britain, written during the 1130s by an author known to posterity as Geoffrey of Monmouth. One of the most influential books of the Middle Ages, it planted Arthur himself in European minds. As for Merlin, he seems to be wholly a creation of Geoffrey's active brain. Or was he? This new book by the leading Arthurian scholar of today offers a succession of surprises. The Merlin of legend was born to be a magician. He was "immaculately" conceived and was able to interpret dreams and utter prophecies. Even his fate was imbued with magic. Like Arthur, he acquired immortality and sleeps on Bardsey Island, in a subterranean chamber with nine companions. Geoffrey Ashe reveals the man behind the myth, establishing beyond doubt the historicity of a Welsh prophet called Myrddin Emrys. Despite his "supernatural" status it is Merlin, of all the great characters of the Arthurian world, who has the strongest claims to having existed.