BOOK II - The Falcon



When Merlin awakes, he is being kicked in the ribs by the mysterious rider who had first come to the farm and whose cloak is still around Merlin's shoulders. The porter grabs Merlin and holds his head by the hair so the man can see him in the light. The cloak's owner decides to thrash him before letting him go, but is stopped by another man who Merlin identifies as the one who had killed the bull. Merlin stands up for himself, explaining that he wants to find Ambrosius and offer his services since he speaks five languages. The newcomer, who obviously seems in charge, wants Merlin to relate the scene he had witnessed. After Merlin re-tells his vision, the man wonders if he had seen it near the standing stone. When Merlin replies affirmatively, they take the torch over to the stone and examine the ground where the fight between the man and the bull had to have taken place. But the ground shows no evidence of the bull's blood and when Merlin sees the man in the light he realizes he had a vision and the man of his dream was not the man now before him. He also realizes that the man before him is Ambrosius himself and the cloak belongs to his brother, Uther. Through more questions, Merlin reveals his true identity, his mother's name, and what he has to offer the Count. They wrap Merlin in Uther's cloak and take him with them as they ride away.


Merlin's vision is reminiscent of the basic premise of the worship of Mithras. At that time in the history of Britain, many religions were warring with the influence and power of Christianity, Mithraism being one of them. The core belief of the followers of Mithras was that the killing of the sacred white bull brought, by way of its blood, plants, animals and beneficial things to earth. This worship was secret, because of the Christian desire to wipe it out, and usually the worshippers met in a sacred cave or cavern. It was also based on the concept of initiation and the initiates took sacred vows never to reveal its precepts. There was also no body of scripture, so little is known of its actual worship service. The fact that Merlin has this vision while Ambrosius and Uther are near is an indication that they may be worshippers of this god, important pieces of foreshadowing for Merlin's future.



Merlin is taken to Ambrosius's headquarters in the walled town. The town had grown up around the camp Ambrosius had several years before established at that spot to group and train his forces to face Vortigern. We learn that King Budec is helping Ambrosius and Uther organize and man the army. He was their cousin and had taken them in when Vortigern had killed their elder brother, Constantius. Budec, now an old man, had made Ambrosius his heir as well as giving him the title of Count. Ambrosius had his eye on ruling South and West Britain, while leaving Uther to rule Less Britain after Budec's death. This would then provide a Romano-Celtic rampart against the barbarians from the north.

Ambrosius follows Roman practices and has Cadal, one of his personal servants, bathe Merlin before seeing him and talking to him. Cadal knows from the way that Merlins feeds himself in Ambrosius' personal kitchen that he is not just a vagrant's son, but someone of high background. Then, Cadal takes Merlin to Ambrosius.

Merlin's first impression of Ambrosius is a man about 30 years old, who appears older because of the life he had led and the responsibilities that he had shouldered since he was little older than Merlin's 12 years. Furthermore, he discerned that this was a man who you either fought or followed, loved or hated. There was no in-between. Ambrosius is impressed by Merlin's decision to cremate the body of his servant, Cerdic, because it shows that Merlin has a sense of obligation to those for whom he is responsible, a highly redeeming trait. Ambrosius also realizes that Merlin's god has dumped him at his feet and he has no choice but to allow him to serve him.

Ambrosius is also curious about Merlin's mother and why the boy left her behind. Merlin explains that he knew Camlach would never harm her and that she was safe anyway at St. Peter's. He tells Ambrosius that she called him Merlin in the Roman way rather than the Welsh Myrddin and that he had overheard her use his second name Emrys as if she were referring to his father. Ambrosius decides to call him Merlin, also.

Merlin is concerned that Ambrosius, when he invades Britain, spare his mother. Ambrosius agrees to this as well as to any other person Merlin may want safe. However, he says that Camlach will not be allowed to be in that group. Merlin solemnly replies that Camlach will be dead before that anyway. Ambrosius is silent at that bit of prophecy and promises to use Merlin's eyes for himself someday. They spend much more time then talking about all the information Merlin can give him about where he lived and what was going on in Vortigern's kingdom. Ambrosius wonders how Merlin knew that Camlach would side with Vortimer over Vortigern. When he hears Merlin admit that he heard him tell his mother near the bier of his grandfather from six miles away in the hills, Ambrosius knows that he has the Sight like his mother.

Ambrosius then sends him to bed in his, Ambrosius', own room.


We learn again about the reason why Ambrosius and Uther were brought to Less Britain by Budec. We also learn the plans Ambrosius has for Britain and Wales to protect against the northern barbarians who are always a threat of invasion. Although he does not yet know that Ambrosius is his father, Merlin still finds himself bonding in a strange way with this man: he doesn't fear him, but he respects him; he can talk to him easily; and he is able to tell him the truth without fear. More and more, as the interview unfolds, we see how Ambrosius comes to accept Merlin's sight. It is interesting that Merlin does not pick up on the fact that Ambrosius knows Merlin's mother had the Sight, a fact he could not have known unless he knew her.

New names in this chapter: Budec, King of Less Britain; Constantius, the King poisoned by Vortigern; Cadal, Merlin's new servant

Cite this page:

Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".