Rutherfurd, Edward. The Princes of Ireland. Narrated by Richard Matthews. Books on Tape, 2004.
Rutherfurd, Edward. The Princes of Ireland. Doubleday, 2004.
Reason read: in honor of the Cat Laugh Comedy Festival in Ireland.
Rutherfurd’s Princes of Ireland opens with a lesson in geography, anthropology, and history. I am always learning something new with historical fiction, like the difference between overlords and feudal lords. Did you know that Celtic warriors rode their horses naked? Kissing each other’s nipples is a show of forgiveness? Clans buried their warriors standing up, facing their enemies camp, to keep an eye on them? So many customs and traditions and that is not even getting into the politics of the country!
Although I kept making comparisons to Thomas Flanagan’s Irish series, Rutherfurd’s Ireland is much rowdier than Flanagan’s epic tale. People stealing horses for animalistic (pun intended) pleasures was a head scratcher for me. I have heard the rumors of men with sheep, but horses? Mythology and rituals abound. As an example, the success of the season’s harvest is dependent on the druid’s blessing. All of these details are a vehicle for the clever entanglement of fact and fiction – details so interwoven it is hard to tease them apart.
My favorite part of the story was Rutherfurd’s mastermind of the relationship between Margaret and Joan. Margaret’s misconceptions and prejudices of Joan were skillful and plausible. It was like a medieval gossip rag. Here is another drama: the king’s wish to divorce his Spanish wife for the love of another. The townspeople quarrel about who is in the right.
Edited to add a quote I liked, “Marriage is like religion, in a way, it requires an act of faith” (said by Dame Doyle, p 740).
Author fact: beyond the Ireland saga, Rutherford has also written London, Sarum, and The Forest which are all on my Challenge list. I am not reading the novel about New York.
Book trivia: Princes of Ireland is epic. It spans seventeen centuries of Irish history and is only part one of the saga. The Rebels of Ireland continues the journey.
Nancy said: Pearl did not say anything specific about Princes of Ireland.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 110).