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Finn Mac Cool

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About the Author

Since 1980 Morgan Llywelyn has created an entire body of work chronicling the Celts and Ireland, from the earliest times to the present day. her critically acclaimed novels, both of history and of mythology, have been translated into many languages. She is an Irish citizen and lives in Dublin.


Did the man become the legend, or did the legend become the man? This is the question posed in this colorful and romantic retelling of the Fenian cycle. Historically, Finn and his elite band of Irish warriors/hunters/poets, the Fianna Eireann, flourished during the third-century reign of Cormac Mac Art. Their strength and prowess elevated them almost to the level of Cormac himself, but it is their flamboyant leader, Finn, of whom the legends tell. Raised in the forest under mystic circumstances, he lived a life full of heroism, great love, and desperate betrayal. Though his life has been retold and embellished countless times before, Llywelyn, who specializes in novels of Irish lore and legend (e.g., Bard: Odyssey of the Irish , LJ 10/1/84), offers a fresh view. This will appeal to readers of romance, history, and swashbucklers alike. Recommended.-- Susan Clifford, Hughes Aircraft Co. Lib., Los Angeles

Too many characters with too many names (most given in Gaelic, in their Anglicized form and with descriptive adjectives) involved in too many actions subvert Llywelyn's retelling of an important Irish legend. Finn MacCool is a warrior/poet, a leader of the Fianna , the first Irish army, in third-century Ireland. Separated from his parents after a battle with their ancient enemies, the clan of Morna, Finn is brought up in primitive circumstances. After learning of his heritage, he determines to become the strongest man in Ireland so that he will never have to run away from anything again. His early allegiance to Cormac MacAirt, the high king, alters with the ascension of MacAirt's son, Cairbre, who favors Finn's old enemies, the clan of Morna. In middle age, Finn recruits the legendary Diarmait, who--aided by Finn's son, Oisin--reestablishes their hold on the country. A romantic triangle ensues, involving Finn, Diarmait and Grania, daughter of Cormac MacAirt. This is a morality play of the highest order, with trust and sincerity winning out over more basic instincts. Llywelyn, whose The Lion of Ireland was said to be a favorite of Ronald Reagan, has produced a plodding narrative that does not rise above its mythic/historical details. $100,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Mar.)

YA-Third-century, legendary Irish warrior/poet Finn Mac Cool is re-created in this romantic and historical adventure. As a young warrior, he determines to become the strongest military leader in the country and trains his band of men to serve the High King, Cormac Mac Airt, in the first Irish army, the Fianna. Physical prowess, political skill, and personal charisma become issues of the young man's personal growth and parallel the development of an army, the consolidation of political power, and the protection from foreign attack. Llywelyn weaves the mythical and mystical side of Irish tradition into Finn's personality: his loves and liasons, his friendships, and his death. Irish wolfhounds, red deer, and boar hunts are here in happy abundance. Bards and storytellers have embellished the tale of Finn into myth, but Llywelyn breathes life into the legend. Her rich prose, many characters, and some unpronounceable Gaelic names may challenge all but strong readers, but YAs who have enjoyed the historical fiction of Rosemary Sutcliff (who also wrote about Finn) and of Lloyd Alexander, as well as anyone who has delighted in the Arthurian legends, will be glad to discover this novel.-Betta Hedlund, Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA

"In addition to being fast paced and full of action, this novel is witty in its descriptions of how Finn's legends were seeded . . . . This is vintage Llywelyn, full of color and poetry and the wonderful flavor of real Irish speech." --Booklist "She exhibits a mastery of complex, emotional themes . . . . Poignantly explores the duality between historical fact and fiction." --Irish American Post

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