A SHADOW OF GULLS by Patricia Finney


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Hardly weighty but quite a respectable product indeed, written when the author was seventeen, fresh up, undoubtedly, from required readings in the ""Ulster"" cycle of hero tales from Ireland's second century A.D. The narrator is Lugh Mac Romain, so named because he is the son of a Roman killed by Goddess/ Queen Maeve of Connaught. The Queen and Cuchulain, ""The Hound"" of Ulster, are the giant adversaries here, and although the Hound slips into contemporary goodguyhood from time to time (""Whew! . . . That was a race! Pity you slipped""), the Queen is grandly and unrelievedly horrid, a goddess whose husband, the Corn King, is replaced every seven years in colorful, gory rites. Lugh, attached to the Queen's household, inadvertently kills the current King before his time and flees for his life--to Ulster and King Conor and the warrior Cuchulain. Much blood, dark oaths, and fabled episodes--like the heroic death of Deirdre of the Sorrows-will come to pass before Lugh spends a healing interval with the Sidhe people, undergoes the Queen's tortures, and escapes in time to witness Cuchulain's triumph. Despite those traces of obstructive modern slang and a surfeit of jaw-breaking nomenclature, the author manages a fairly neutral diction and follows the serpentine saga with invention and obvious sustained pleasure in the telling. N.B. to the commercial Holland/Plaidy/etc. establishment--there's been a child among you taking notes.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1977
Publisher: Putnam