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Red Branch (1989)

by Morgan Llywelyn

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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6041030,712 (3.92)20
"Powerful . . . A lusty, poetic and legendary world based on Ireland's mythical warrior-hero Cuchulain." The New York Times Book Review In a land ruled by war and love and strange enchantments, Cuchulain -- torn between gentleness and violence, haunted by the croakings of a sinister raven -- fights for his honor and his homeland and discovers too late the trap that the gods have set for him in the fatal beauty of Deirdre and the brutal jealousy of King Conor.… (more)
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» See also 20 mentions

English (9)  Italian (1)  All languages (10)
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
I did not finish this book. I wanted to. I wanted to love it because I have enjoyed so much the stories it is based on, and thought it would be great to read a fleshed-out version. Unfortunately there was very little flesh to be found. It was kind of like one of those bad Bible movies where they don't let anyone say anything that wasn't directly in the Bible, so no one seems like a real person. 108 pages in, I still felt like Cuchulain, Deirdre, and the rest were more vibrant in the original stories, which at least allowed the listener or reader to use their imagination better. I hated the repeated use of love and perfect understanding at first sight and thought young Setanta was very unrealistic, as he finds out he can shape-shift but doesn't seem to be surprised or to even think about it until much later.
I kept hoping it would get better, but realized that I was reading more out of a sense of obligation because I don't like to leave books unfinished, so I stopped reading it. Life's too short for reluctant reading!
I still hope to find a copy of Grania and will gladly give it a try, but I admit this experience has reduced my hopes for that book quite a lot. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
I won't rate this book as I think it just isn't for me but not a bad book at all. But I just can't get into the writing style and I suppose I also expected something different from the book
  Releanna | Apr 10, 2013 |
Posted on my blog:

A friend lent this book to me after I had finished the latest book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. He thought that it would fit nicely with the story behind the legend theme, and it definitely is in the same vein. Red Branch, however, has a very different feel in other ways and is much more classic ancient story.

Title: Red Branch
Author: Morgan Llyweln
Pages: ~500 (paperback)
Setting: Ancient/mythical northern Ireland, magic and magical people and gods all exist, but for the most part that is in the background
Premise: Setanta (who later goes by Cuchulain) is a warrior from Irish myths and this is the story of the boy who becomes a man who becomes a legend. He has a bit of magic in his blood and some parent issues, but a goddess (not exactly the one that I would want around) takes him under her wing (haha, pun) and follows him as he becomes the legend that has been remembered as one of the oldest stories in existence.

Strengths:

A very realistic portrayal of the main character with all the strengths and weaknesses that a well-rounded character has.
Beautiful writing and style
Well rounded “villains” and secondary characters as well
Deliciously ambiguous and human villains, there really aren’t even villains here since we get to know the “bad guys” hearts and motives as well
Who doesn’t love guy love between friends?
I think that the legend and myths are followed fairly accurately, though I haven’t researched this part

Weaknesses:

Compared to the fast pace of modern fiction, the book does feel a bit slow and windy at times
This can be considered and strength or weakness depending on who you are, but the end of the book has a ton of tear-jerking moments
Women have a rather secondary role in the culture, which can be a bit frustrating if you want a strong female character (who isn’t a crazy death goddess)
There isn’t really an over-arching plot besides the story of Cuchulain’s life (which works for me, but adds to the windy nature)

Summary: I really enjoyed this book, though I think it’s important to understand going into it that it is a slower pace. It is honestly rather relaxing for most of the story (until the crying parts) and a nice story, though it is definitely not a page-turner and you could get bored if you were trying to read it on a plane or something equally distracting. I recommend this as a going-to-sleep book.

More reviews at http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com/ ( )
  anyaejo | Apr 2, 2013 |
More reviews at: http://www.onstarshipsanddragonwings.com/2011/08/12/redbranch/

A friend lent this book to me after I had finished the latest book in Patrick Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicle. He thought that it would fit nicely with the story behind the legend theme, and it definitely is in the same vein. Red Branch, however, has a very different feel in other ways and is much more classic ancient story.

Title: Red Branch
Author: Morgan Llyweln
Pages: ~500 (paperback)
Setting: Ancient/mythical northern Ireland, magic and magical people and gods all exist, but for the most part that is in the background
Premise: Setanta (who later goes by Cuchulain) is a warrior from Irish myths and this is the story of the boy who becomes a man who becomes a legend. He has a bit of magic in his blood and some parent issues, but a goddess (not exactly the one that I would want around) takes him under her wing (haha, pun) and follows him as he becomes the legend that has been remembered as one of the oldest stories in existence.
Strengths:
A very realistic portrayal of the main character with all the strengths and weaknesses that a well-rounded character has.
Beautiful writing and style
Well rounded “villains” and secondary characters as well
Deliciously ambiguous and human villains, there really aren’t even villains here since we get to know the “bad guys” hearts and motives as well
Who doesn’t love guy love between friends?
I think that the legend and myths are followed fairly accurately, though I haven’t researched this part
Weaknesses:
Compared to the fast pace of modern fiction, the book does feel a bit slow and windy at times
This can be considered and strength or weakness depending on who you are, but the end of the book has a ton of tear-jerking moments
Women have a rather secondary role in the culture, which can be a bit frustrating if you want a strong female character (who isn’t a crazy death goddess)
There isn’t really an over-arching plot besides the story of Cuchulain’s life (which works for me, but adds to the windy nature)
Summary: I really enjoyed this book, though I think it’s important to understand going into it that it is a slower pace. It is honestly rather relaxing for most of the story (until the crying parts) and a nice story, though it is definitely not a page-turner and you could get bored if you were trying to read it on a plane or something equally distracting. I recommend this as a going-to-sleep book. ( )
  anyaejo | Feb 16, 2013 |
I can never get enough of reading about Cuchulain. I guess it’s the Gael in me. I’ve probably read five or six versions of the Táin Bó Cualnge and the Cuchullain cycle in various Myths & Legends textbooks and novelizations. I still have a couple more waiting on my shelves with Ciaran Carson’s The Tain and Lady Gregory’s account from the early 20th century. And I’ll probably buy the next one I see on a shelf in the bookstore.

Leave it to Morgan Llywelyn to put together the most cohesive and readable version to date. Since the epic cycle that forms the basis of the Cuchullain stories are fragmented and episodic, it’s nice the way she pulled it together and created one of her trademark masterpieces of historical fiction. I’ve enjoyed her books on other legends from ancient Ireland like Brian Boru and Finn MacCool, as well as her modern series covering the Irish Rebellion in 1916 through the present.

“Good health to the giver and the blessings of whatever god you follow” to Morgan for bringing me more tales from one of my ancestral lands. ( )
  jveezer | May 26, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Morgan Llywelynprimary authorall editionscalculated
D'Achille, GinoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Powerful . . . A lusty, poetic and legendary world based on Ireland's mythical warrior-hero Cuchulain." The New York Times Book Review In a land ruled by war and love and strange enchantments, Cuchulain -- torn between gentleness and violence, haunted by the croakings of a sinister raven -- fights for his honor and his homeland and discovers too late the trap that the gods have set for him in the fatal beauty of Deirdre and the brutal jealousy of King Conor.

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In ancient Erin, the line between the perceived world and the Otherworld sometimes faded away, and then people said Gods walked the earth. On such, it was rumored, had fathered the silver-eyed boy Setanta - and when Setanta became a man and the battle rage seized him, he was indeed liek a God, a terrible God of destruction. The called him Cuchulain, the dreaded Hound of Ulster.

Thus we get a glimpse of the life of Cuchulain, and the Red Branch warriors. It is among them that the tragedy of Ulster may have first begun - in the fatal beauty of Deirdre, the brutal jealousy of King Connor, and the avenging might of the king's champion, Cuchulain.

We visit a land ruled by war and love and strange enchantments, as Cuchulain - torn between gentleness and violence, haunted by the croaking of a sinister raven - fights for his honor and his homeland and discovered too late the trap that the Gods have set for him.,,
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