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Over Nine Waves: A Book of Irish Legends Paperback – July 13, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The legends journalist Heaney skillfully and suspensefully retells are interlinked episodes of the mythological prehistory of Ireland, a chronicle of heroic deeds, power struggles, magic, and passion. The core narratives of Irish culture--featuring the children of Lir, the voyage of Bran, the life of Cuchulainn, Deirdre, Finn, and Oisin-- are here animated by the gamut of human emotions: love, loyalty, grief, pride, and jealousy. Brief histories of Patrick, Bridget, and Columcille add a note of religious passion at the end. Violence abounds, but a young warrior must be as familiar with poetry as with weapons; and women assume important roles as leaders, poets, warriors, and healers. Although there are several volumes of Irish myths in print (most recently, Miranda Green's Celtic Myths , Univ. of Texas Pr., 1994), there is still room for one as thorough and as well written as this. Essential background for every reader of Irish literature.
- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Essential background for every reader of Irish literature. (Library Journal)
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Product Details

  • Series: Book of Irish Legends
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (July 13, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057117518X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571175185
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #330,043 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

A perfect book to read on a rainy afternoon - with a pint of Guiness!
Ted Hitchens
Where it differs however is that Heaney has evidently attempted to make the book read well for a modern person.
Christopher R. Travers
A great book just for fun, but also a good learning tool that adds another dimention to a very complex land.
hellcat28@hotmail.com

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By I. Dunn on April 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
Over nine waves is a modern (and fresh) rendering of the classic Irish myths. I loved this retelling just as I love the tales themselves. After reading so many 'straight' translations to was very refreshing to read these free renderings by a modern story teller. This is an excellent introduction for anyone not familiar with Irish legend who would like to get an overview. This is Not a 'things go bump in the night' series of ghost stories (though those have their own attractions) but a full blooded account of the legendary heroes of old Ireland (Hercules and Xena eat your hearts out) Prepare to be beguiled by a storyteller of delicacy and magnificence.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By hellcat28@hotmail.com on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
After traveling throught out Ireland every year for the past six I have seen many books on Celtic Myths. By far Heaney's is the best. It is very helpful in the fact that there is a pronunciation key included. A great book just for fun, but also a good learning tool that adds another dimention to a very complex land.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By James E. Goodwin on March 6, 2008
Format: Paperback
This was not one of the typical translations that one reads of the Irish Myth but I still enjoyed it. In this book Heaney worked from existing English translations and put them into a an "easier" style that is more modern and flows smoother than some of the direct translations that are available. Having read several of the other translations for the same stories I have to say she did a very good job. The language is a little elementary, I get the sense that she was writing this in hopes of the tales to be used by mid or high schooled age students, but for the most part is very loyal to the original translations. Frankly this would be better suited to someone as an introduction to the myths to be followed up later by more aggressive reads like Of Gods and Fighting Men or the more modern, scholarly translations.

Heaney in Over Nine Waves included stories from 3 of the 4 mythological cycles of Ireland. Oddly she leaves of the Historical Cycle tales and replaces them with stories of the Three Saints of Ireland (Patrick, Brigid, and Columcille) while an interesting read they also seem a little jarring next the earlier texts which are faithful in highlighting the pre-Christian deity even calling them Gods and Goddesses. I have no way of knowing but I must assume this has more to do with the religious tradition of the author than any kind of desire to reunite the Mythological, Ulster, and Finnian Cycles with the stories of the Saints (of which only the story of Oisin's return would make any sense and he does not convert anyway).

Over all I enjoyed the read and although almost all of the poetry is left out of this text so are some of the more tedious medieval structure of other translations. For someone new to Irish Myths this would be a great place to start.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ted Hitchens on October 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book was required reading for an Irish mythology class I took a few years ago while studying in Ireland. This book is very easy to read which makes it easy to know the characters and sympathize with them, even for someone new to this subject. For instance, I nearly cried after reading 'The Children of Lir.' A perfect book to read on a rainy afternoon - with a pint of Guiness!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book covers much of the same material as Celtic Myths and Legends but is a bit easier to read. There are some stories in each which are not in the other. Where it differs however is that Heaney has evidently attempted to make the book read well for a modern person. While in some cases, there may be some interpolation for story-telling purposes, she certainly gets the main details down and correct. The account of the Coming of the Tuatha De Dannan is worth reading in that regard.

This book provides a decent survey of Celtic myth in general. It covers the three cycles in relative depth, providing general excerpts from each. The book is not comprehensive on any of these cycles, but it provides enough for the student to get a general feel. Certainly it belongs with other surveys of Celtic myth (Rolleston, Squire, Ganz) on the bookshelf.

Those who like this book might also enjoy:
The Tain
Joseph Jacobs' Celtic, More Celtic, and European Folk and Fairy Tales, Batten
FOLKTALES OF THE BRITISH ISLES (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
The Norse Myths (Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library)
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