In an age of scientific certainties, the idea that such scientific absolutes can be breached at will by individuals asserting themselves against such laws is rather attractive. Throughout the ages the wizard, magician, sorcerer, has claimed to do just this. From Simon Magus to Merlin, Faust to Cornelius Agrippa, the Comte de Saint Germain to Aleister Crowley, the magician has been both feted and feared. An awesome figure in real life and in literature, he has retained his hold on the Western imagination in the teeth of scientific advance. P.G. Maxwell-Stuart's history of the wizard from ancient times to the present shows just how extraordinary a character the wizard has proved to be - not merely a conjuring trickster or malicious egotist in league with Satan, (though there have been plenty of both), but also a deeply religious person intent on using magic the better to understand the mind of God. This unexpectedly rich diversity of wizards offers new insights into our continuing fascination with magic.