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THE PRINCES OF IRELAND: The Dublin Saga

Edward Rutherfurd, Author
Edward Rutherfurd, Author . Doubleday $27.95 (800p) ISBN 978-0-385-50286-3
Reviewed on: 02/09/2004
Release date: 03/01/2004
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Mass Market Paperbound - 768 pages - 978-0-345-45245-0
Ebook - 800 pages - 978-0-307-37148-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-0954-4
Hardcover - 1287 pages - 978-0-375-43301-6
Hardcover - 776 pages - 978-0-385-65906-2
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Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-71278-0
Open Ebook - 978-0-385-51257-2
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Mass Market Paperbound - 782 pages - 978-0-7704-2907-2
Paperback - 776 pages - 978-0-385-66129-4
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Distinctly evocative of James Michener's all-encompassing recapitulations of history, this lackluster saga by the author of bestselling London and, most recently, The Forest (2000), is the first of a projected two-volume series billed as the Dublin Saga. Rutherfurd begins his tale of the Emerald Isle in pre-Christian Ireland in A.D. 430 with a tragic romance between a maiden, Dierdre, and a Celtic warrior, Conall, hearkening to the legend of the mythic first-century Celtic hero, Cuchulainn. After Conall is offered up as a sacrifice to the Druid gods, the narrative jumps ahead 20 years to Pat Rick's (St. Patrick's) arrival in Ireland in A.D. 450 and his establishment of a small Christian toehold at Dubh Linn. Five centuries later, the Vikings make their mark, and Rutherfurd skips ahead with chronicles of the monastery at Glendalough, the Book of Kells and the death of Brian Boru (founder of the O'Brians) with his Pyrrhic victory over the high king of Tara in 1014. A retelling of King Henry II's arrival in Ireland in 1171 is followed by a cursory account of the reformation of the Irish Church at the Council of Cashel and the story of an obscure 1370 skirmish at Carrickmines Castle (a minor landmark presently doomed to make room for a highway). Rutherfurd sets the last of his ill-connected and artificial sketches in 1537, with Henry VIII hanging Silken Thomas, and Dublin poised at the dawn of the Renaissance. Readers who persevere will glean plenty of historical detail from these pages, but Rutherfurd's uninspiring storytelling makes the journey a slog. (Mar. 2)

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