Lion of Ireland by Morgan LLewlyn
Oh, where, Kincora! is Brian the Great?
And where is the beauty that once was thine ?
Oh, where are the princes and nobles that sate
At the feast in thy halls, and drank the red wine?
Where, oh, Kincora?
Oh, where, Kincora! are thy valorous lords?
Oh, whither, thou Hospitable! are they gone?
Oh, where are the Dalcassians of the Golden Swords?
And where are the warriors that Brian led on?
Where, oh, Kincora?
– From the Lamentation of Mac Liag for Kincora
Ireland. A land of beauty. A land of stretching green hills and blue waters that crash against the coastal cliffs. A mysterious land at the edge of the world. For 10th century Irishmen, it was a land fraught with warfare among the Irish tribes and the Norse invaders from Scandinavia. It was a land where no man could find peace.
For Brian mac Cennedi (Brian Boru), it was home. As a young child among twelve brothers and sisters, Brian saw Ireland as it could be, and as all young boys do, Brian dreamed. He dreamed of a unified Ireland that would one day exist undisturbed from the outside threats of the Norsemen and the inner rivalries among the various tribes.
Though he never thought he would be the one to lead the Irish people to greatness.
Brian is considered among some historians to be the greatest king in Irish history. As a young boy, he experienced first-hand the horrors of war, the memories of which would always remain with him and later spark in him a warrior spirit that could not be quenched until Ireland was free and finally at peace.
Lion of Ireland is the story of Brian. It is the story of Ireland. It is an epic that follows the life of Brian from age nine until his death. Almost all of the characters in the novel are actual people in history. A few of the them are fictional, like Brian’s first love Fiona and his closest friend Padraic. Morgan Llywelyn does a great job with representing all of her characters, though I do wish she had done more with Fiona. Fiona’s character appears near the beginning of the novel but only returns sporadically throughout the rest of the book.
Overall, the pacing of the story is good, the characters are well envisioned, and the dialogue is realistic. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about medieval Irish history.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars