LION OF IRELAND: The Legend of Brian Boru by Morgan Llywelyn

LION OF IRELAND: The Legend of Brian Boru

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fictionalization of a legendary super-hero: Brian Boru of the 10th century, who hacked and thwacked and smote his way to High King-hood, uniting Erin and expelling the Norsemen. Brian, youngest of the twelve sons of the late king of the Dal Cais tribe, plays second lyre to older brother Mahon, now king. Itching for battle against the harassing Norsemen, Brian despairs of Mahon's goodly and diplomatic ways, leads a band of raiders, but eventually returns to his brother's fold. Brian then becomes Mahon's main axe in gaining leadership of the many tribes of Munster, composed of neighboring friends and foes. But Mahon will be murdered, and swords will whistle until Brian becomes Ard Ri, King of all Erin, the True King--a designation mystically confirmed when the sacred Stone of Fal is heard to shriek at the coronation. (Brian absorbed basic Druidry from wood-child Fiona, his first love, and respects the many religions of the land.) And as for domesticity, our hero marries twice--delicate, fearful Deirdre, kin to the dead King of Munster; and red-haired, beautiful, plotting, dangerous Gormlaith (whom Brian will discard). Llywelyn follows the all-too-usual path of those re-creating a hero whose exploits are soaked in centuries of mythful thinking and folk invention: trying to make 20th-century sense out of 10th-century warfare and warriors, he superimposes modern diction and concepts. (Brian announces: ""I've come to a conclusion. . . about reality. In dealing with other people, it's not your own perception of reality that is the determining factor but theirs."") Accessible but lardy--acceptable history-fiction for those with a pre-existing enthusiasm.

Pub Date: Feb. 18th, 1979
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin