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Ambrosius Aureliani is the first in a four-book series called Arthurian Tales.
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Ambrosius Aureliani begins with the kidnapping of Theodosius, the son of King Adaulphus and Princess Placidia. Merlinus takes their son to Britain and leaves him there to be raised as a boy named Ambrosius.
Years later after being driven off the island, Ambrosius finds refuge at Merlinus’ Gallic villa near Aureliani. With Bishop Germanus of Auxerre, they return to Britain and battle Vortigern and his Saxon army. The saga continues and so does the life and death struggle of King Arthur’s legendary uncle.
Note from the Narrator
Greetings. I am Merlinus or simply Merlin. It is the latter that I have been called of late. The trappings of Rome have fallen away like the features of a fading leper. The sights are horrid, and the losses sting with great regret. And though I am a Roman at heart, I have not lived under Roman rule in quite some time. Still, I possess documents revealing my legal claim to a large imperial villa on the shores of the Loire River near the city of Aureliani. It was many, many years ago when I first received that vast estate.
During the consulship of Constantius and Constans, a Roman senator and my father made a deal. In this deal, the Spaniard signed over his Gallic lands to me. In return, my father vowed to escort another nobleman’s daughter and her newborn son to Barcelona. In addition, after a short stay, Father would bring her back to her home in Armorica. That was the plan.
But then, Father caught an ill vapor and died before he could execute his part of the deal. I stepped forward to fulfill Father’s obligations to the
senator. It was at this point that I became privy to the other elements of
the plan. Father had agreed to exchange the daughter’s child with the son of the self-proclaimed restorer of Rome, King Adaulphus. So I did what
Father had arranged to do.
Shortly after this secret switch took place, the daughter’s child became ill and died. Her baby was mourned as if he were Theodosius, the son of King Adaulphus and Princess Placidia. So the son of the Restitutor Orbis lived on as Ambrosius. It was not until years later after gray strands had crept into his brown hair that he
died. Many may scoff at what I write, but they are fools if they do. Life is not always simple, and I have no interest in telling lies.
So become aware of the truth about Ambrosius Aureliani by your own free will or stumble into enlightenment as I did.
TCM Reviews - John R. Clark
I must confess my standards regarding Merlin in his youth spring from the excellent series by T. A. Barron. Arthurian Tales, however, stands quite well on its own merit. I was initially distracted by the frequency of short sentences at the beginning of the book, but after half a dozen pages, the distraction passed and I settled in for an intriguing and enjoyable read. Leon Mintz has done his homework in terms of scholarship, and it shows throughout the book. The settings, religious friction, politics and the culture readers will experience as they read this first of a possible quartet, all are realistically portrayed and help create a mental world which was quite easy for me to slide into as I read the story. This is a good book for lovers of historical fiction, fans of the early medieval period and will certainly appeal to teens who like meaty read. It will be a nice addition to our historical fiction collection at the Hartland Public Library.
ForeWord Clarion Review - Julia Ann Charpentier - Four Stars (out of Five)
Countless works of literature have been inspired by the medieval mystique of King Arthur. Blockbuster films and commercial fiction, set in this fascinating period, meet a receptive audience even in the twenty-first century. Though historical accuracy is subject to embellishment, most readers seeking entertainment in a modern interpretation of semi-real events, no longer care whether the work will pass scholastic standards.
In Ambrosius Aureliani, the author has graced his carefully-crafted pages with meticulous historical detail. Leon Mintz knows his material to a fine point, and presents his novel much like an animated professor. Narrated by Merlinus, better known simply as Merlin, this work is the first in a proposed four-book series, set in the fifth century as the Roman Empire is collapsing. Mintz’s fantastic story begins when Theodosius is kidnapped from his parents, King Adaulphus and Princess Placidia. He is taken by Merlin to Britain where the infant will be raised under the new name Ambrosius. Years later, Ambrosius is driven off the island, but he finds refuge with Merlin at his Gallic villa near Aureliani. Then Ambrosius returns with Bishop Germanus of Auxerre to fight Vortigern and the Saxon army.
Though the book stands on its own, this tale has all the attributes of a prolonged saga with treacherous battles and territorial disputes. The scenes are filled with action and intrigue, usually gripping in their intensity. At no time is the novel boring, but Mintz has allowed an academic tone to hamper his skill as a first-rate storyteller. This intellectual approach may have been intentional: a tactic meant to appeal to fans who enjoy a narrative overflowing with facts, trivia, and minor characters. However, the latent problem in drawing a vast amount of knowledge into a work of fiction, is a tendency to smother the major protagonists and slow down the plot.
According to the publisher, Mintz has relied on “a tapestry of facts and fables woven together from the words of Gildas, Nennius, and Geoffrey of Monmouth,” as well as the work of Bede, which is a formidable and time-consuming endeavor. From a professional standpoint, this reinterpretation of the legend is an admirable accomplishment, but the average reader is often in pursuit of riveting adventure, without the intrusion of details that may not have been essential to the primary storyline. Yet Mintz, also the author of Memoir of the Masses, an experimental vampire novel, still deserves a high mark for nearly flawless copyediting, and a marketable concept. For history enthusiasts, Ambrosius Aureliani, and the subsequent books in his Arthurian Tales series, will be a welcome addition to any personal library.
Celtic Twilight - Jim Donaldson
One of the most widely written about topics in history is the story of Arthur. Every period of literature has seen a re-awakening of the hero and new writers have placed the views of their own period on the great Dark Age warrior king. New advances in archaeology and ancient literature and a new age hunger to see Arthur rise from his sleep have given us new visions of his realm. With all of the retellings and histories of Camelot, one would think that any new book would be just a rehash of the old. Leon Mintz provides us with a story that provides fresh insight into legend. Based more upon the Historia of Geoffrey and the Nennius and Irish annals rather than the later medieval lands of Malory, Mintz paints a landscape of a Gaul and Britain still intertwined, struggling with the death of the western Roman empire and violent struggles of the waves of barbaric tribes that flowed into the land and swept away the old peace. Merlinus assumes a reluctant central role in the intrigues and events that will bring our hero into the light. As the son of a conspirator in the political kidnapping of the son of Empress Placidia, Merlinus accepts his dead father's task to deliver the baby to Vortimer in Britain. That simple task of familial duty locks him onto his fated path, for the boy will take the name of Ambrosius and grow to become the war leader that drives back the incursions of Saxon and other tribes, giving the old Romano-Britain time to breathe and await Arthur. Mintz' story spans the lands from the British north to the very heart of crumbling Rome itself. He draws the history of the conflicts tightly around the legend, like a bright red Roman cloak, dipped in the blood of battle and the poison of intrigues.
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