Maximilian 'Max' T. Epper, also known as Merlin or Wizard, is an expert in electromagnetics, ancient history and archaeology. He is also a founding member of the Coalition of Minnows team.
Max Epper was born around 1940, and as he grew up, he studied at a seminary school alongside Francisco del Piero, becoming friends with each other, however the differences in their beliefs eventually led them to become estranged.
Having apparently met the love of his life, Doris, at some point during his school years, Epper and Doris would marry in 1958 when they were roughly 18.
During his later studies, Epper studied electro-magnetics, ancient history and archaeology.
Eventually, Epper began researching the ancient Machine linked to the Dark Star, which would become the main focus of his research for many years to come. In this endeavor, he began working alongside the Japanese anthropologist Yobu "Tank" Tanaka, and the two became friends. Between their research on the Machine, Epper also looked into the Golden Capstone of the Great Pyramid and its relationship with the Tartarus sunspot event.
During his adult life, Epper made many friends in the Canadian government and other foreign governments such as Australia, and was later given the nickname Merlin.
At some point, Epper took a job with Sandia Research Laboratories, and during this time he built several devices based on his expertise in electro-magnetics. One such invention was his anti-gunfire Warblers, however when his investors screwed him over when they sold it, Epper was furious and decided to avoid working with capitalists again.
Epper later began teaching archaeology and ancient history at the Trinity College in Dublin, where in his class of 1989 he first met Jack West Jr. Jack's superiors in the Australian Army were concerned because he was unsatisfied by simply being a soldier, and because they were aware of Epper's upcoming mission to find the pieces of the Capstone, asked Epper to take him on as a favour. Also in his class at this time was Zoe Kissane, and he would later take on the twins Julius and Lachlan Adamson as his students.
Following Jack's time serving during Desert Storm, he decided he was going to quit the Army, but one of his superiors decided to assign him to Epper's Capstone quest in order to keep him around for a while longer.
On Christmas Eve, 1994, Jack and Epper followed up on Jack's own theory regarding the Temple of Dendur, which he thought might contain the Knife of Osiris. After they received permission from New York's Metropolitan Museum to examine the Temple, they confirmed the Knife's presence within one of the Temple's bricks with a Ground Penetrating Radar.
When a fire alarm went off, Jack and Epper were forced to evacuate the museum, just as a squad of firemen entered the museum. When they both heard a nearby boy note that their firetruck was not the real number 17 firetruck, Jack became suspicious, so he sent Epper back inside the museum. Epper went back to the Temple of Dendur, only to find that the brick that contained the Knife of Osiris had been taken. He then quickly called Jack, who pursued the firemen, but ultimately lost the Knife to a man in a trench coat who had been watching them earlier.
Before Seven Ancient WondersEdit
Some time before 1996, Jack and Epper located several hidden scrolls that had been saved from the Alexandria Library fire, and discovered, among other things, the Callimachus text, which would lead them to the locations of the seven Ancient Wonders and the Capstone Pieces with them. Because of the importance of the documents to the Capstone mission, Epper and Jack elected not to disclose their discovery to the wider archaeological community.
In March 1996, Epper and Jack sought to locate the latest of the Oracles of Siwa to translate the Word of Thoth in the Callimachus text, however they learned he had recently died while his wife Malena was pregnant with his child. Because only the child would be able to help them once grown up, Jack and Epper asked Malena for help, only for her to be kidnapped by a European force led by del Piero soon afterwards.
The pair tracked the Europeans to a volcano in Uganda, but arrived too late to stop del Piero from taking Malena's child. As lava began pouring into the chamber, Jack discovered that a second child was still inside Malena's now dead body, and so he and Epper retrieved the infant, only to be blocked from escape by a lavafall. When Jack sacrificed his left arm into the lava to pull a release lever, Epper promised to build him a prosthetic one better than his old arm.
Epper and Jack proceeded to the meeting of small nations, whom were debriefed by Epper about the coming calamity the Tartarus Sunspot would cause if it was not nullified by the restored Golden Capstone. With the nations agreeing to participate in the collective mission, the Canadian delegation officially assigned Epper to represent them in the team of minnows as they guarded the infant (named Lily by Jack) until she was old enough to translate the Callimachus text and lead them to the Capstone pieces.
Once the meeting was over, the chosen team members took different routes to the team's base in Kenya, and Epper was accompanied by Saladin at one stage, telling the Arabian about the disastrous consequences of the Tararus sunspot causing global flooding and the team's options in using the Capstone to prevent the disaster and keep their enemies from achieving an apparent unrivaled power. Saladin noted that the last option, simply keeping one Piece of the Capstone so that no one could perform the ritual of power, involved allowing the global flooding to occur, to which Epper posed to him if it was the lesser of two evils.
The team based themselves on a Kenyan farm, and were joined by Doris, and over the years Epper and his wife became grandparent figures to Lily. During this ten year period, Epper also worked on building Jack a mechanical arm, worked with Sky Monster on modifying the Halicarnassus' engines with electromagnetic retrograde thrusters, and helped Jack in preparing for the traps they would encounter when trying to recover the pieces. Over time, Lily gave him the new nickname Wizard.
Several years into the mission, Wizard answered the door when the Mossad operative Ben Cohen approached, warning the team that the Mossad were aware of their mission and threatening to expose them if they did not let him join. Later, Wizard found himself talking with Zoe, reminiscing about the days when she studied under him and noting Jack was a lot different from that time. Wizard went on to explain to her things about Jack that she had never known before, such as his mother being Australian and his commanding American soldier father, and his work operating with the Commander-in-Chief's In Extremis Force. After the conversation, Wizard realised Lily had been listening the whole time and assured her that Jack was a good man who cared for her.
When Lily turned ten, she managed to decipher the first part of the Callimachus text, and soon afterwards Jack led Wizard and the rest of the team to the Sudan to locate the Colossus of Rhodes Piece.
As the team made their way into the ancient mine, Wizard couldn't help but marvel at the sights as he guided the others through the traps. After Wizard took a moment to admire the European team's ingenuity in overcoming the traps (which Jack reminded him was against the "rules") the team entered the cavern and initiated the Warblers, del Piero called out to Wizard to appeal to him to surrender, but of course Wizard refused and told Jack to initiate the Master Snare trap, taking Pooh Bear's place as the team worked their war up the Scar. Once Jack and Lily retrieved the Piece, Wizard and the others began their retreat, unfortunately, once they made it back outside, they were surrounded by Cal Kallis's CIEF team and forced to hand over the Capstone Piece, but luckily they still managed to escape on the Halicarnassus.
After informing the Coalition's Spanish attaché about Noddy's death, Lily managed to translate the second entry in the Callimachus text, and so Wizard retrieved Euclid's instructions from his scroll collection, which held the location to the Alexandria Lighthouse Piece at Hamilcar's Refuge. Once Jack located the Refuge in a concealed inlet, Wizard and the rest of the team were dropped off to join him. After racing Kallis and Judah's teams through the trap systems to the Refuge, Wizard was forced to remain with most of the team as Jack, Lily and Zoe made their way into the Refuge. Wizard panicked when the CIEF began firing RPGs since his Warblers couldn't deflect them, but luckily Stretch was able to shoot down in succession long enough for the team to escape while Jack pursued the CIEF to take photos of the inscriptions on the Capstone Pieces.
When Jack eventually returned, he told Wizard his suspicions that someone on their team was letting the Americans know of their progress, but as Jack's suggestions were shot down by Wizard, neither could determine who the mole might be. Wizard added that their problems were compounded with the issues he had determined from the next two clues for the Statue of Zeus and Temple of Artemis Pieces. During a team meeting, Wizard revealed the Artemis Piece was undoubtedly with the Europeans since the Artemis Piece was at St. Peter's Basilica, but the Zeus Piece was lost. To this end, Jack reluctantly decided they needed to liberate Mustapha Zaeed, an expert on the Capstone, from Guantanamo Bay to help them.
Once the team had Zaeed, the terrorist surprised Wizard by revealing that he could read the first few dialect of the Word of Thoth, and then revealing that the Louvre's Winged Victory of Samothrace was the Nike of the Zeus statue that hid the Piece in its pedestal. As they made their way to Paris, Wizard helped to explain to Big Ears the diversity between the Freemasons and Catholics and their current forms of worship compared to ancient times such as the construction of obelisks, which helped lead the team to realise how they might be able to locate the tomb of Alexander the Great.
While Jack led most of the team to retrieve the Zeus Piece, Wizard led Zoe and Fuzzy as they ventured to the St Peter's, not so they could take the Piece, but so that Wizard could memorise the inscription. Disguising himself as a Priest, Wizard approached the alter holding the Piece, managing to memorise the inscription before a guard firmly requested he move along. As the trio began making their way to the airport they contacted Doris to inform her of their success, however soon after Wizard and the others were captured by del Piero's men.
Del Piero had Wizard, Zoe and Fuzzy brought to him one day before the Rotation event, taking a moment to greet his former seminary classmate before gloating about the Church's imminent victory and introducing Alexander to them. After del Piero informed the group of what he had learned from intercepts regarding a confrontation between Jack's group and the CIEF at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and how Jack had apparently perished, before moving on to tell them he would be taking them to Giza to witness his victory.
Wizard, Fuzzy and Zoe were brought along by del Pier to Luxor to watch as he attempted to take the Americans' gathered Capstone Pieces. After del Piero's men were blindsided by Judah's forces, Wizard and the others were reunited with the similarly-captured Lily and Stretch. Judah brought Wizard along as he and Hans Koenig uncovered the tomb of Alexander, the American wanting him to watch as he claimed the upper-most Piece of the Capstone. When they reached the inside, Wizard was amused as he revealed the measurements Koenig scanned of the tomb were the same as St Peter's, the Bascilla having being designed to replicate the tomb's interior, a fact del Piero had obviously known.
Wizard was then brought to the platform erected on the Pyramid's summit to watch as Judah performed the ritual of power, but during the ritual the remainder of the Coalition team assaulted the CIEF on the scaffold from the hovering Halicarnassus. Wizard protected Lily with his own body during the firefight, until he was knocked unconscious by Zaeed. He regained consciousness just after Zaeed inadvertently performed the ritual of power for Australia and as Jack confronted Judah, overhearing him mention that Doris had been executed by the latter and watching as Jack threw Judah's safety harness into the Hali's engines in retribution.
After the battle was over, Wizard rejoined the rest of the team on the Halicarnassus and, once they had taken the used Capstone, left the area. While distraught for his wife's death, Lily did her best to comfort him by affirming that they were family. Wizard soon began discussing the consequences of Australia having 1,000 years of unrivaled power, however he approved of Jack's suggestion that his government never be informed.
In the weeks after the mission, Wizard brought Lily with him as the representatives of the countries in the Coalition met again to discuss the events on the Great Pyramid, and even as he disclosed most of what had happened, Wizard elected not to inform there of where Jack had chosen to lie low. Later, Wizard and Zoe went along with Lily to meet Jack at his farm in Australia. After Jack showed off the Capstone and some of the Ancient Wonder relics he kept hidden in an old nickel mine, he suggested that Wizard go with him on his next excursion.
Between Seven Ancient Wonders and The Six Sacred StonesEdit
With the Capstone mission completed, Wizard was able to return to his life's work of researching the Machine. Though the absence of most of her former guardians, including Wizard, was hard on Lily at first, she in turn took to visiting of then in their home nation whenever possible.
During his time off from his Machine research, Wizard would regularly visit Jack and Lily at the Great-Sandy Desert Farm, occasionally asking Jack to do some research for him on topics such as the Neetha and Aristotle's riddles, but didn't tell his protege what he was working on. During some of his visits to Jack and Lily, he brought Tank with him.
Wizard was able to rejoin the entire team as they celebrated the 2007 New Year at the Burj al Arab in Dubai.
At some stage, Wizard contacted Lachlan and Julius to ask for their help in calculating the approach of the Dark Star, and the three of them concluded that it would be close enough to endanger Earth by March 20th of 2008.
Toward the end of 2007, Wizard had managed to deduce several things regarding the Machine, such as theories regarding the meanings of each Pillar's rewards (Knowledge, Heat, Sight, Life, Death and Power), identified the Six Ramesean Stones that would assist in the Machine's restoration in unison with the topmost Piece of the Capstone, the Machine's true nature as the Earth's core and its construction by a race of Super-Ancient Beings who existed long before mankind. Wizard investigated and then disregarded his suspicion involving Easter Island, and also wondered about an ancient prophecy regarding five legendary warriors being connected to his research, but could not make the prophecy fit since they were unidentified. Around this time he became aware of the MiT researcher Felix Bonaventura, who was also researching the Machine.
On December 1st, the group located a chamber beneath Witch Mountain with many carvings relevant to the Machine in the entrance-way. As they noted down the various images and inscriptions, Wizard and Tank discovered that the first Pillar would need to be set 100 days before the Dark Star's return. As they had already calculated that the Dark Star was set to return in March 2008, they realised that this meant the Pillar had to be set in a little more than a week. There was little time to consider this further, as they realised there were hostile Chinese forces incoming, and so Wizard sent all the data to Jack and deleted it from their hard-drives. Mao Gongli, the leader of the Chinese forces, confronted the pair in the chamber and decided to send Wizard and Tank to Xintan prison.
After Jack escaped the Chinese forces sent to his farm with the Firestone, Mao ordered the guards at Xintan to begin torturing Wizard to get him to reveal what he knew regarding the Machine. Wizard resisted despite his interrogators attempts, but even so he was exhausted and badly injured over the next few days. Eventually, because his crude methods of overcoming Laozi's traps were too slow, Mao sent orders to Xintan to have Wizard and Tank brought back to Witch Mountain to see if they might know how to get through.
As Wizard and Tank were being transferred on Xintan's train, the engine was hijacked by Jack and Stretch, as Jack had organised a mission to restore the Machine but required Wizard because the Canadian still had a wealth of knowledge. Wizard and Tank were freed during the escape and taken aboard the prison's commandeered Hind which the team used to get back to Witch Mountain. En-route, as his wounds were saw to, Jack explained their position and Wizard in turn noted how critical the restoration of the Machine was. Upon their arrival, Wizard joined the team and explained how to get through Laozi's trap system, quickly catching up to Mao and his men. After disabling them (with Jack pistol-whipping Mao on the nose for his treatment of Wizard), they encountered the final trap guarding the Philosopher's Stone. Jack then raced against the speed-trap to retrieve the sacred stone, and successfully brought it back.
Reuniting with Zoe, Lily, Alby Calvin and the Adamson twins at Mortimer Island, where the American CIA attache Paul Robertson provided the team with the Killing Stone of the Maya, and Vulture and Iolanthe Compton-Jones brought the First and Fourth Pillars. Wizard worked with the twins to look over the Stonehenge data to determine the Vertices locations, and Jack helped to identify the first at Abu Simbel. Wizard then united the Killing Stone with the Firestone to confirm the Pillar-laying dates, and then did the same with the Philosopher's Stone to cleanse the two Pillars they had. With the first components they needed in hand, Wizard joined the rest of the team as they headed out to lay the first Pillar.
Once they located the entrance to the first Vertex, Wizard refused to let the presence of several Nile crocodiles stand in the way him viewing the results of his life's work. As he, Jack and Zoe made their way through the vertex, Wizard told them of his theory regarding how the Machine and its components had been built by a race of super-ancient men, and noted several of the carved images on the walls as they waited for the Titanic Rising. Once the time arrived, Wizard watched in amazement as the inverted pyramid began activating and Jack laid the Pillar in place.
When it was over, Iolanthe and her team of Royal Marines jammed the team's communications and took the team members on the surface hostage. After forcing Jack to hand over the Pillar, Lily and Wizard, Iolanthe began leading them away until a few Japanese suicide bombers blindsided the group. Thanks to Lily tackling him to the ground at the last moment, Wizard was the only one unscathed, and took the opportunity to begin fleeing with Lily and the Pillar. After radioing Sky Monster to request a pick-up, learning that Jack and the others were fine in the process, Wizard learned that a convoy of Egyptian military vehicles were approaching, and so the team began preparing for a quick escape.
Uncomfortable with driving, Wizard barely managed to get himself on board the Halicarnassus, but was made more uneasy when Sky Monster had him steer the damaged plane while he took on the men attempting to board them. Shortly after Sky Monster retook control from Wizard, Jack informed them that he, Astro, Stretch and Pooh Bear couldn't make it, and implored that Wizard and the others continue on to find and place the second Pillar. With that, Wizard and the others reluctantly left their teammates behind and began making their way towards the Congo in search of the Neetha.
Shortly after they took off, however, Sky Monster informed the group that they would need to make a forced landing in Rwanda. After sending word to Solomon Kol to request fuel, Wizard and the others made plans to rendezvous with him on the way to the Congo. With word having been sent out to search for them, Wizard shaved his beard to help disguise himself. As they made their way through the African continent, Wizard helped to decipher the meaning of the Thoth symbols on the charged first Pillar. During their journey, while attempting to get in touch with Jack, they instead reached his father Jonathon "Wolf" West Sr, who was the leader of their adversaries and had apparently killed Jack, revelations that disturbed Wizard.
Once Wizard's team located the Neetha village, they were promptly captured by the tribe, and discovered that, in addition to the second Pillar, the Neetha also possessed the Seeing Stone of Delphi. Being stripped of their artefacts by the Neethan warlock, the Neetha held them prisoner, and Wizard became concerned when he realised the Neetha had no desire to save the world. Soon they met the long-missing anthropologist Diane Cassidy and a kindly Neethan called Ono, and Wizard was horrified when he heard that Warano was going to claim Lily as a wife. When Wolf and his men stormed the village, Cassidy and Ono freed Wizard and Lily, and the group tried to escape from the village in the chaos, however Alby was shot and captured by Wolf's men, along with the Sacred Stones and Pillars. Forced to leave the boy behind, Wizard and the others were able to get back to the approaching Halicarnasus. Wizard and the rest of the team were disheartened to learn that Wolf and his Saudi allies had paid off the South African government to prevent any access to the second Vertex beneath Table Mountain.
Refusing to believe Jack was dead, Wizard left his protege a coded message explaining their recent troubles, and soon after Jack got in contact with the group, having arrived at the second Vertex and in need of Wizard's assistance to get through the trap system by answering Aristotle's Riddles. Wizard watched in horror through their video link as Jack made a desperate play to lay the Pillar before a treacherous CIEF soldier dropped it into the chasm, and as Jack fell into its depths as a result.
After learning Jack survived the fall and rescued Alby, the relieved Wizard and the rest of his group arranged to meet up with them at World's End. Once the team reunited, they exchanged tales of their adventures since their split, and Wizard was amazed to discover that Jack had obtained the Twin Tablets of Thuthmosis, and commended Zoe for her part in keeping his group alive.
After relocating to Sea Ranger's base on Zanzibar, Wizard and the team tried to assert what they knew about the remaining Vertices and Pillars, however they were at a loss. Cassidy, who had volunteered to assist them as thanks for rescuing her, pointed out the Five Warriors, and Wizard admitted he had thought of them, but couldn't fit them in with what he knew. However, with nothing else to go on and seeing that he may have been mistaken, Wizard and the team followed Cassidy's suggestion, spending the next two months before the Third Pillar's placing to research to confirm the Five Warriors connections to the Machine's components.
Eventually, they learned that Genghis Khan had held some of the Pillars before passing them on, and once had a Fabergé Egg with pictures of the Vertex entrances. Seeing the value of this, Wizard went along with Jack's team to locate Genghis' Lost Arsenal in Mongolia to find it. However, they were beaten to the chamber by Wolf's team and Tank's Blood Brotherhood, the latter of whom had just destroyed the egg. Wizard tried to reach out to his old friend, admitting that he regretted never seeing the hatred within Tank. While Jack believed the mission was over, Wizard noticed a sarcophagus in the room, as well as a shield with the egg's images painted on.
While attempting to escape their enemies, Wizard and Jack were confronted by Wolf, who fatally shot Wizard with a crossbow, believing that Wizard's death would break Jack's spirit. As he lay dying, Wizard pleaded for Jack to finish rebuilding the Machine and not to let his death break him. As Lily and Zoe arrived, Wizard said his goodbyes to them too, and let slip that Jack had once told him that he had once planned on proposing to Zoe. With his last words being his gladness to be with Doris again, Wizard finally succumbed to his injury.
While Jack wanted to take his body with them, Zoe pointed out they couldn't and thought that being buried in the same tomb as Genghis Khan would have pleased Wizard. Having not seen the sarcophagus before, Jack realised what his mentor had being trying to tell him about the shield, and he quickly took it, before he and the others quickly made their escape from Mao's forces.
The rest of the team were saddened to learn of Wizard's death, while Lily, being the most affected, believed that Wolf should die for killing him.
- Wizard is the second major recurring character in any of Reilly's novels to be killed off.