cover image The Swan Maiden

The Swan Maiden

Jules Watson, Author Bantam $12 (560p) ISBN 978-0-553-38464-2

This modern retelling of a tragic Irish myth is rich in well-researched detail but moves too slowly and reverently. Deirdre, a young woman prophesied to bring down the kingdom of Ulster, is torn between druidical mysticism and her love for Naisi, a warrior prince who flees with her to protect her from Ulster's covetous king. Watson (The Song of the North ) emphasizes the sensuality suggested in the myth and carefully recreates the culture and people of Iron Age Ireland, but the grandeur and elegance of the original are lost in overwriting, clichéd scenes of passion and an interminable build to the inevitable conclusion. (Feb.)