In the north of Ireland stands a ring of stones carved with ogham symbols that only Druids knew how to read. It’s to this enchanted place the ghost of a chariot driver brings a young man to give him the tales of heroes, fiends, and goddess long gone…by entering them through the magic of the stones. Here they will behold:
o How two enchanted pig-keepers for the faery folk, the Sidhe, met their doom.
o How pillow talk between King Ailell of Connacht and his insatiable Goddess-Queen led to a murderous rivalry.
o How a boy-king, Conchovor, fell madly and venomously in love with the girl known as Derdriu of the Sorrows.
o And how Ulster’s greatest champion, Cu Chulainn, battled alone against all the armies and enchantments of the treacherous Queen Maeve.
For this is the greatest tale of ancient Ireland, the Tain bo Cuailnge–the cattle raid that changed the history of a land.
Modern fantasy writers build on the folk epics and fairy tales of ancient times. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings reflects the Oxford professor’s mastery of Anglo-Saxon lore and legend, Evangeline Walton’s The Song of Rhiannon retells portions of the Mabinogion, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King re-imagines the adventures of Arthur and his knights. In Tain Gregory Frost creates a novel out of the great Irish epic Tain Bo Cualinge, the story of the famous Celtic champion Cu Chulainn. Here, once again, we hear of Deirdre of the Sorrows, encounter Ireland’s fairy-folk the Sidhe, and ride into battle with fierce half-gods and doomed warriors. Not only fantasy fans but also readers of historical fiction will want to look out for this Celtic saga. —Michael Dirda, Book World, The Washington Post
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