“Dramatic, adventurous, heroic, romantic. . . these historical chronicles, legends, myths, tall tales and fables, featuring warriors, kings, monks, explorers and clever common folk, imaginatively tell the history of Ireland.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
This New York Times bestselling epic is an unforgettable tour de force that marries the intimate, passionate texture of the Irish spirit with a historical scope that is sweeping and resplendent. Storyteller extraordinaire Frank Delaney takes his readers on a journey through the history of Ireland, stopping along the way to evoke the dramatic events and personalities so critical to shaping the Irish experience.
In the winter of 1951, a storyteller, the last practitioner of an honored, centuries-old tradition, arrives at the home of nine-year-old Ronan O'Mara in the Irish countryside. For three wonderful evenings, the old gentleman enthralls his assembled local audience with narratives of foolish kings, fabled saints, and Ireland's enduring accomplishments before moving on. But these nights change young Ronan forever, setting him on a years-long pursuit of the elusive, itinerant storyteller and the glorious tales that are no less than the saga of his tenacious and extraordinary isle.
BBC reporter Delaney's fictionalized history of his native country, an Irish bestseller, is a sprawling, riveting read, a book of stories melding into a novel wrapped up in an Irish history text. In 1951, when Ronan O'Mara is nine, he meets the aging itinerant Storyteller, who emerges out a "silver veil" of Irish mist, hoping to trade a yarn for a hot meal. Welcomed inside, the Storyteller lights his pipe and begins, telling of the architect of Newgrange, who built "a marvelous, immortal structure... before Stonehenge in England, before the pyramids of Egypt," and the dentally challenged King Conor of Ulster, who tried, and failed, to outsmart his wife. The stories utterly captivate the young Ronan ("This is the best thing that ever, ever happened"), and they'll draw readers in, too, with their warriors and kings, drinkers and devils, all rendered cleanly and without undue sentimentality. When Ronan's mother banishes the Storyteller for telling a blasphemous tale, Ronan vows to find him. He also becomes fascinated by Irish myth and legend, and, as the years pass, he discovers his own gift for storytelling. Eventually, he sets off, traversing Ireland on foot to find his mentor. Past and present weave together as Delaney entwines the lives of the Storyteller and Ronan in this rich and satisfying book.
As the phrase goes - Brilliant
I've now read this book twice. Once before a trip to Ireland, and now after a trip "home" for a full family gathering of 70 plus relatives from my Mother's side in Skibbereen. I met uncles, 3 of them, my godfather and cousins, all for the first time. But having read this book, growing up with my Mother's own guarded stories and having re-traced Newgrange, Cashel, the River Boyne and other stories within I can easily say I've "lived" there all my life, even with the relatives I've just come to meet. Frank brought them and the country to life, I simply needed the chance to meet them. Much like the Storyteller himself.
The story also shows how's the Irish have had to leave home to find home. If you've any Irish blood you need to read this brilliant story and you too will find your home, your kin, your heart warmly within its pages
Kevin Hart. 12-2-2013
Wonderful, captivating reading
A book that is hard to put down. It provides an entertaining and captivating view of Irish history that would take the reading of several books to garner. A must read!!!
If you love stories...
This book has a very compelling story with many more stories within. The storyteller's tales take you through the history of Ireland, and Ronan's quest takes him, and you, to many of Ireland's locales. I only wish I had read this before I went there instead of after. I would have had a richer appreciation for everything I saw.