THE MERLIN MYSTERY
Written by Jonathan Gunson
Illustrated by Jonathan Gunson & Marten Coombe
Published by HarperCollins, translated into seven languages.
400,000 Copies Sold Worldwide
This book tells the love story of the wizard Merlin and the enchanted water-sprite Nimue. It contains a secret puzzle with a magical prize for whoever solves it.
The Secret of 'The Merlin Mystery'
I've always been obsessed with the Arthurian legends, particularly how the wizard Merlin gained his powers. So I dreamed up an extraordinary book idea, attracted some investors, and joined forces with another artist to put it together. We spent nearly two years illustrating.
Hidden in the book illustrations is a puzzle that reveals the 'Alchemist's Spell'. Once discovered, the finder had to contact the publishers with the spell, and if correct, they'd win Merlin's 'Wand Of Alchemy'.
The wand was made of silver, gold, lapis lazuli, bronze, Brazilian crystal, and glass enamel. It was made for me by a jeweler friend, Peter Wood. (See photograph at bottom of the page.)
But the real marketing secret that drove so many sales was an expanding 'jackpot' prize of pure gold.
Legend holds that the fabled "Alchemist's Spell" hidden in the story had the power to create gold. I decided to make this fantasy become 'real,' and for every book sold, I put a grain of gold in the Bank of England.
The result was a gold prize that grew larger and larger which helped to sell more books... which made the prize grow even faster! Eventually it exploded in size, and the quest for the puzzle solution grew into a worldwide frenzy.