Wednesday, October 11, 2006

[Book Review] THE PRINCES OF IRELAND Edward Rutherfurd


Jessie Marshall reviews THE PRINCES OF IRELAND: The Dublin Saga by Edward Rutherfurd (Doubleday, 2004):

While Historical Fiction is not my usual genre, I was drawn to this book in hopes of learning more about my Irish heritage while enjoying a fictional story. Princes of Ireland succeeded in adding to my knowledge of Ireland’s rich history and doing so in a pleasant way.

The Dublin Saga begins in pre-Christian Ireland in the year 430 A.D. with the ill-fated romance between Deirdre, the daughter of the Clan Chief of Dubh Lin, and Conall, an aspiring Druid priest. Then the narrative moves to 450 A.D. with St. Patrick’s arrival in Ireland and his establishment of the Christian faith in Dubh Lin. The next installment takes place in 981 A.D. and describes the role the Vikings play in the heritage of the Emerald Isle. This section also paints a vivid picture of monastic life at the time. In 1171, King Henry II arrives on the island, and the reformation of the Irish church begins. The tale ends with the story of the Irish revolt of 1534 and with the introduction of Protestantism to Ireland.

In each segment of this sweeping tale, the reader experiences key historical events as seen through the eyes of several fictional families who reside in or about Dubh Lin, modern Dublin. Rutherfurd’s portrayal of family life, love, political change, and war is interesting enough to draw the reader in, but the characters’ personal stories are secondary in importance to the actual historical events. Lovers of historical fiction or those with an interest in the history and culture of Ireland will certainly find this epic a satisfying means of learning the highlights of early Irish history.

Why you'll love it: Leisurely-paced; densely written; rich in historical details relating to the customs and beliefs of the Irish people; intricately described setting; familiar characters; mystical qualities interwoven into the plot.

Jessie Marshall, Business and Science Department

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