Collected by Josepha Sherman,
Merlin's Kin
(August House, 1998)

Josepha Sherman travels around the world in search of Merlin's Kin in this storyteller's dream of a collection of 30 tales. According to her introduction, Sherman includes only magicians who have "displayed heroic deeds, a desire to do some good, and a refusal to use his or her powers for harm."

Readers of world folklore may recognize some of the magicians such as Wabanaki shaman Glooscap, Vainamoinen, hero of the Finnish Kalevala, the Hopi Spider Woman, or indeed, King Solomon. But it's likely that they don't know of Eirik, a magician from Iceland who challenges some evil trolls, or Teteke, the courageous shaman from Manchuria who faces her own fears to rescue a child's soul.

The Welsh magician Gwydion may be familiar to some, but what of the Lord of Pergerswick from Cornwall or Michael Scott from Scotland or the Irish magician-prince Mongan?

Chitoku is from Japan and defends those who cannot help themselves. Asin, a magician from Argentina, shows a proud chieftain that appearances can be deceiving, and Mindia, of the Georgian Nation, gains his powers while held captive by demons -- but all he really wants is to go home. As for the Hungarian magician Csucskari, well, he just put the sun, moon, and stars in the sky.

All these and more are included here along with source and tale motif notes for each story. The tales are smoothly retold and leave plenty of room for a storyteller to add his or her own stamp to the story. Sherman well deserves her reputation as a fine and thorough folklorist.

In a time when people are too ready to see evil at the mere mention of the word "magic," a book chock full of heroic magicians is welcome indeed. Read Merlin's Kin and attend a magnificent and magical family reunion.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

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