A Celtic extravaganza, pitting the evil Formorians, led by the Lady Maebdh and Conal of Ulster, against the good folks--including Michael, an apprentice druid; Shana of the faeries; the High King; the Liprichani; an expatriate Roman centurion; the heroic Finn; a Christian slave called Patrik; and a talking beaver named Bobd. These last act as a sort of nationalist united front against traitors threatening Ireland from the north, but if Newman's symbolic ammunition is obvious, her attitude isn't always so. The speech of Michael and company is generally bluntly modern in accent, with a ""me lad"" or two thrown in now and then, but the plot runs in the groove of high tragedy, with the young folks' quest submerged in the rush to a battlefield finale. Unless one happens to enjoy the profusion of characters (whose mythological origins are never identified here), there's very little to focus on. Michael, the apparent hero, sprains an ankle early on and is relegated to the role of bystander; by the time the fighting is over and he returns to his ""druid school,"" he seems thoroughly relieved to be free of the whole business. . . and so are we.