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Bending the Boyne: A Novel of Ancient Ireland Paperback – March 17, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


...Boann is vivid and powerful and is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of this book. She is a full- fledged character whose nuances create a relatable and realistic rendition of a young woman in the Bronze Age. ...overall, Bending the Boyne succeeds in creating a seamless text where historical research and imagined worlds interweave effortlessly. This is a superb novel that will be of particular interest to readers of historical fiction as well as those with a keen interest in archeology and mythmaking.
--Foreword Review

Winner, Next Generation Award 2011, historical fiction.

...Thought-provoking and entertaining.
--The Irish News, June 2011

...Bending the Boyne is a masterful weaving of myth, prehistory, and modern reality that reads faultlessly.
--Nancy Lorraine, Senior Reviewer, MBR Bookwatch

About the Author

The author lived in Ireland and traveled the north Atlantic coasts during the past decade, to research and complete this historical fiction set in the early Bronze Age.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 350 pages
  • Publisher: Seriously Good Books (March 17, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983155410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983155416
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #993,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.S. Dunn resided in Ireland during the past decade, and continues to pursue the Bronze Age along the Atlantic coasts of Spain, France, Wales, and Ireland.

Dunn has a second novel of the Atlantic Bronze Age in progress, and an excerpt may be found in the Gaslight anthology (Chamberton Publishing, 2012).

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Lark Spring on March 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm Irish and, on being lured by the blurb of this book, was a little afraid that I was going to find just another tale written about old Ireland from an outsider's point of view.

However, since reading it I have found it winding itself around my memory and my heart. It's different from anything I've ever read before on the ancient history of Ireland. In fact, while there are quirky bits of history inserted like pebbles into the landscape of the story, it concerns not mere history, but the myths and legends that are deeply rooted in our past.

The many and varied characters make no concession to their place in this mythical/historical setting. They live their lives as they would have all those years ago, uncaring of the modern reader. That is not to say that the story is disdainful of readers, but that it is uncompromising in its pursuit of the mythical truths that underlie all really good historical novels.

The Boyne of the title is the river that winds through the heart of Ireland and its history. It was at the Battle of the Boyne that the forces of the Catholic King James and Protestant King William met in a clash that echoes down the centuries and has left its mark on the whole society of Ireland, north and south.

J. S. Dunn's delightful novel shows the sowing of the first seeds of conflict between invaders and native Irish, or those who preceded them. It harks back to a time when myth and history were one, as they remain in our subconscious to this day. The natives are shown to be thoughtful, wise astronomers, with their eyes firmly fixed on the skies for signs of the modern Ireland that must surely have appeared to them in visions and dreams. Yet they will not yield their land to the more down-to-earth and less wise invaders, who seek gold not for its relationship to the sun, but for the power and earthly wealth it can bring them.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sergio on April 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Dunn uses recent archeological evidence from the British Isles and the northern coast of Europe to imagine the transition period for Ireland from stone age to bronze age culture. Imagining real characters drawn from ancient, pre-Celtic myths and legends, the story is told of the relatively peaceful, mostly self-sufficient stone-age culture who built Newgrange and other astronomical observatories of this period as they struggle to maintain their way of life against increasing pressure (and invasion) from a bronze-age culture that puts a high value on trade, precious metals, and a warrior elite supported by wealthy traders.

The story is well conceived, and, as with all good historical fiction, provides an engaging path towards understanding how life may have been for people during this period. If you've read much Irish history (especially of the last 1000 years) you may get a strong sense of déjà vu, or, as they say on "Battlestar Galactica" - "All of this has happened before; all of this will happen again". There are strong parallels between the Starwatcher/Invader struggles and the Irish/English struggles, as a largely agrarian culture is nearly swamped by a strongly trade driven colonial power. The parallels are not limited to the Irish/English struggles, however, as this story has been played out all through human history, with striking similarities.

Dunn tells a good story, with engaging characters. I have to say that neither Boann nor Cian, the main protagonists, seem 'fully formed', and Elcmar, the main antagonist came across as 1 dimensional with strong hints of deeper drives/motivations never fully explored.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Maynard on June 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
Just read 'Bending The Boyne' what a great blend of fiction and current achaeological thinking. Also, some great concepts about the foundations for what became some of the later Irish mythologies. It alludes also to the manner in which the social views, outlooks and cosmologies of one culture are assimilated in part at least, by later cultures, collectively creating what today we would regard as a national identity. The story cleverly weaves these ideas together, and the characters are invariably metaphors for the concepts

So good to read something about ancient Ireland that does not resort to modern, usually misinformed, obsession with Celts!
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30 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Suzi Hough VINE VOICE on May 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
For a plot summary, you'll have to refer to another review. I thought my review was already running too long, so I cut the plot description out.

I was intrigued by this book when I saw it listed as an Early Reviewer offering at I love historical fiction, and I enjoy archeology - but I know very little of the Stone Age/Bronze Age and even less about prehistoric Ireland. So this seemed to be a great way to learn a little through a pleasantly diverting novel.

By the time I reached the hundred page mark, I had determined that I would not be finishing this book. It was a very poor match for me and my personal tastes. These are the key reasons:

1. There wasn't adequate proofreading/editing, so odd sentences show up that don't make sense.
Take this line from the opening paragraph:
"A glut of vehicles, their noise, the fumes, assailed his broad shoulders." (1)
OK. Assail = attack, yes? There's an excessive supply of cars, and the noise and stench of them are attacking...a man's shoulders? What?? Unless the cars are attempting to run him over, there's no way this sentence can begin to make sense, since shoulders can neither smell nor hear. The following passage makes it clear, however, that the unnamed man isn't roadkill. Odd sentences like this appeared frequently enough to distract me from the story - never a good thing.
On a lesser note, there are quite a few grammatical errors scattered throughout. Semicolons connect fragments together; errant commas sprout randomly in the middle of sentences. In one form or another, there's a mistake on almost every page. Again, I found it incredibly distracting.

2. Formatting is inconsistent.
Italics are applied inconsistently for internal dialogue.
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