Paxson has carved out her niche in fantasy with recastings of Tristan and Isolde in The White Raven (1988), and King Lear in The Serpent's Tooth (1991). Now, with an assist from Martine- Barnes, she launches a three-volume retelling of the legend of Fionn mac Cumhall (Finn MacCool)--a retelling that, unfortunately, starts out looking like the mustiest sort of generic fantasy, with a long list of Irish character and place names in dauntingly authentic spelling, and a foreword with a list of suggested reading. But then the story of the hero's youth kicks into gear, and the book comes to life wonderfully. We see Fionn as an orphan and an exile in the forest, raised by the druidess Bobdmall and the warrior woman Liath Luachra. He travels to the king's fair, making both friends and enemies while he beats all comers at running and spear-throwing; he visits the Sidhe, has visions, slays monsters; he is a servant to noble lords and apprentice to a blacksmith, then a poet. In the end, Fionn comes to accept both his identity and his destiny. Overall, an unusually good Celtic fantasy: it's sometimes prone to bathos--Fionn often pauses in the midst of dramatic events to ponder some mundane question--but the high points of the story sing, and leave the reader with an appetite for the volumes to follow.