The Hollow Hills Author:Mary Stewart In this version, Merlin's father is Aurelius Ambrosius, the Roman war leader, Uther Pendragon's brother, making Merlin Arthur's cousin. Merlin is depicted as twenty-two years old at the beginning of the book, which opens on the morning after the conception of Arthur. This conception has taken place as a result, not of illusion or shape-changing ... more »as in the legends (and as Merlin would like people to believe), but of ordinary human disguise and misdirection. Duchess Ygraine is said to have known who she was mating with and whose son she bears from the moment Uther came to her. Merlin goes into hiding, to avoid trouble. He learns that Uther wishes the child to be hidden, until another (legitimate) son is born.
In later chapters, Merlin travels from one place to another, arranging for the upbringing of Arthur. He gives the child first to his own nurse Moravik, who after some years sends the boy to Count Ector of Galava to be trained as a man. Merlin sets off for Constantinople, accompanied by a small retinue of servants. In Constantinople, he learns from his host Adhjan that Magnus Maximus (also known as Macsen Wledig) possessed an especially beautiful and well-made sword, which was taken back to Britain after Macsen Wledig's death. Inspired by a dream which he believes to be prophetic, Merlin returns to the North in search of this sword.« less