Am nearly finished with a wonderful novel, Morgan Llywelyn’s Red Branch. It tells the tale of Cuchulain, the great Irish hero of the Ulster Cycle. Ms. Llywelyn paints an earthy, rugged and raw portrait of Ireland in ancient times, and imagines a passionate life for Cuchulain, along with his wife Emer, Deirdre of the Sorrows, King Conor Mac Nessa, Fergus Mac Roy and Maeve, queen of Connaught.
She does a remarkable job of staying very close to the original source material, though she deviates slightly at times for dramatic effect. And she is very good setting up and foreshadowing pivotal moments in the story. If one already knows the myths, this enriches the telling, because you see new strings in place, new binding chains of fate. I’ve read Lady Gregory and Randy Lee Eikhoff’s versions of the ancient Irish tales, and Ms. Llywelyn holds her own. She has a gift for filling in some of the details that were left out of the original bardic works, and it is obvious that she loves mythic lore.
Will do a longer review upon completion of a novel screaming out for the Silver Screen.