Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Hound of Ulster by Sutcliffe - Book 19, 52 in 52

It has been a few months since I last posted a book review. Honestly between finishing school and gardening, I haven't had much reading time. Hopefully that will change over the next few weeks as the garden slows down, and we get back into the rhythm of school.

The Hound of Ulster by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Hound of Ulster is based on the Cuchulain Saga of the Celtic tribes. Cuchulain goes before the King Conor to ask to be granted the arms of manhood so that he may be the one to fulfill the prophesy that the boy who takes up his manhood on that day will become the greatest warrior in Ireland. To win Emer as his wife, he travels to study the arts of war with Skatha and wins great honor in battle while serving her. Returning home, he takes Emer from her father's home by force and continues to take up any challenge placed before him until he earns the title, the Champion of Ireland. Cuchulain is portrayed as a brilliant warrior with a fiery temper, always ready for adventure and battle and willing to go looking for them when they do not come to him. He is not faithful to his wife Emer while he is away, but always returns home to her after his adventures. When Mauve of Connacht leads her host into war against Ulster, it is Cuchulain that holds them off with only his chariot driver by his side. His success is bittersweet when he is forced to slay Ferdia, who during his years with Skatha, was as close to him as a brother. Still he turns away Mauve the first time and comes to face her again years later even though he has received many signs that he will not return from this battle.

The Hound of Ulster would make an excellent read for ages 14 and up as a part of a study of Celtic tribes. It would also make an excellent resource to use for comparison and contrast with a version of Beowulf. Although I saw many similarities in the warriors themselves, the Celtic story is filled with much more fantastical feats of magic, superhuman strength, and mythical elements than the last version of the Germanic Anglo-Saxon tale of Beowulf I read earlier in the month.
I plan to shelve it for our next round of Middle Ages history when Jessie is a bit more mature due to the bloody battle, infidelity, and elements of druid magic it contains as well as the simple fact that she will be more able to better analyze and compare the text in a few years.

1 comment:

Anthony said...

INTERESTING REVIEW:more about Rosemary Sutcliff at