Just a simple story of bloodshed and barding in 11th century Ireland. The author has a habit of reducing the panorama of history; as far as she seems able to see (without studying) people have always been just plain folks. In its way, this is as irritating as those authors who provide the general trade, annually, in this genre, with overblown heroes of the past, oversize in every way but especially in libido. But not Cecelia Holland--her heroes are clean clear through and restrain themselves better than the general run of present day exurbankites, whom they resemble. Here, Muirtagh, chief of The O'Cullinane, who would much rather plunk his harp than thunk his bow, can't tear loose from a family feud that his forebears have been losing steadily through the Dark Ages. Being hillbilly proud, Muirtagh was silly enough to sass the High King about it. Feudin' and fumin' finally caused him to be outlawed and he took up with the Danes who had settled along the coast. He fought with them against his own and lost. Perhaps it all goes to prove that an Irishman should never fight a City Hall controlled by other Irishmen. As in the author's first two books (The Firedrake, 1966, and Rakossy, 1967) The Kings... is shot through with improbable dialogue and soaked with blood. Tidy sales to a tidy-sized, uncritical readership.