Somewhere in the shadowy borderland between myth and history lies the territory of Finn Mac Cool. Mightiest of the Irish heroes, leader of the invincible army of Fianna, he was a man of many faces: warrior, poet, lover, creator, and destroyer. Finn Mac Cool is a man taken from one of the lowest classes of Irish society, driven by ambition and strength to rise above his birth and bring new respect and status to his people.
He had it all and lost it all, but in the end he gained immortality. Finn Mac Cool is a novel of sweeping historical grandeur and awesome adventure.
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Too many characters with too many names (most given in Gaelic, in their Anglicized form and with descriptive adjectives) involved in too many actions subvert Llywelyn's retelling of an important Irish legend. Finn MacCool is a warrior/poet, a leader of the Fianna , the first Irish army, in third-century Ireland. Separated from his parents after a battle with their ancient enemies, the clan of Morna, Finn is brought up in primitive circumstances. After learning of his heritage, he determines to become the strongest man in Ireland so that he will never have to run away from anything again. His early allegiance to Cormac MacAirt, the high king, alters with the ascension of MacAirt's son, Cairbre, who favors Finn's old enemies, the clan of Morna. In middle age, Finn recruits the legendary Diarmait, who--aided by Finn's son, Oisin--reestablishes their hold on the country. A romantic triangle ensues, involving Finn, Diarmait and Grania, daughter of Cormac MacAirt. This is a morality play of the highest order, with trust and sincerity winning out over more basic instincts. Llywelyn, whose The Lion of Ireland was said to be a favorite of Ronald Reagan, has produced a plodding narrative that does not rise above its mythic/historical details. $100,000 ad/promo; author tour.