From Publishers Weekly
Gentle, peace-loving Finnabair, daughter of the ambitious warrior queen Medb of Connacht, makes a beguiling narrator in Osborne-McKnight's third engaging historical to recast Celtic myth (after 2002's Daughter of Ireland). For years, Medb has used Finnabair as a pawn in her perpetual war games. Determined to win the prized brown bull of Ulster, the ruthless queen promises her daughter's hand to any man who kills boy warrior Cuchulainn, Ulster's legendary hero. Among the many who die in the attempt is Froech, Finnabair's beloved, one of the Others, or fairy folk. The irresistibly charming Cuchulainn himself is half Other and he is sorry to kill Froech, as he confesses to Finnabair several years later. They meet when Finnabair tries to kill herself, overwhelmed by the deaths of so many in her name and by her forced marriage to Ulster warrior Rochad. But her marriage and her meeting with Cuchulainn mark a turning point in her life. Learning to love Rochad and to forgive her mother, she brings peace to both sides, though Medb's insatiable quest for power soon causes war to break out again. In its emphasis on traditional "feminine" values, the novel diverges most obviously from the author's primary source, the epic Tain, "Ireland's Iliad and Odyssey." Warm, playful and eloquent, this is a welcome addition to the genre.
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Osborne-McKnight continues to retell mystical Irish folktales in spellbinding fashion. As in Daughter of Ireland
(2002) and I Am of Irelaunde
she interweaves documented history with Celtic myths and legends, creating an enchanting tapestry of honor, courage, and love. Forever in the shadow of her beautiful, dangerous mother, Medb, the warrior queen of Connacht, mousy Finnabair strikes back when she realizes that she has become nothing more than a pawn in her mother's costly and seemingly foolish quest to acquire the Brown Bull of Ulster. Sold in marriage to an enemy warrior, she forges an unusually strong platonic relationship with the Cuchulainn, the fabled Hound of Ulster. As Finnabair struggles to reclaim her own destiny, the fates of two powerful kingdoms hang in the balance. Never allowing her magical saga to become inexcusably quaint, the author displays, at all times, an abiding respect and love for the richly textured mythology of ancient Ireland. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved