RED BRANCH by Morgan Llywelyn


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The contemporary bard of ancient Ireland checks into Erin once again, this time just before the Birth of Christ, to spin the tale of the legendary hero Cuchulain, the dauntless Hound of Ulster. As usual, swords ring, javelins whizz, and war horses scream while the Hound mows down his foes--in a tale that's a long-winded, fantastical cross between The Book of Celts and The Road Warrior. Cuchulain turns up in Emain Macha, seat of Ulster's King Conor mac Nessa, as a fatherless boy, already itching to join the warrior elite--the Red Branch--and protected, though he doesn't know it, by the bloodthirsty raven god of war. Trained by Skya, first lady of battle, he soon becomes the Champion of Champions, marries gentle Emer, and remains cautiously out of the picture as Ulster is torn asunder in internecine feuding over the fair Deirdre. But when enemies threaten from without--namely, the legions of nearby Connaught under the blood-gluttonous lady Maeve--he single-handedly saves the day, even when it means doing combat with his best friend, Ferdiad. Inside Cuchulain, however, a gentler soul dwells, agonizingly at odds with his own magical militarism; in quiet moments he asks, ""What is the truth of war,"" and wonders who his father was. Alas, he dies before finding out, when, during a rematch with Maeve's men, he succumbs to a clever rose, and tries to fight without the unearthly power that's pulled him through before. Llywelyn has based her book on Irish myth and fictionalized freely. The result: many cozy hours of entertainment for lovers of far-fetched war stories.

Pub Date: March 21st, 1989
ISBN: 080410591X
Publisher: Morrow