"You know how some books come out of left field and just shock you? Well, this was one of those. If you're looking for an action/adventure fantasy that is different than the normal, look no further. This book has some welcome diversity, and a story that is absolutely unforgiving. This is a novel based on some ancient Irish text, and is full of myth and magic and I just loved it for that. The writing is tight and the book is well edited. I welcomed the strong female characters, the obvious twist on tropes, and the way the author genuinely owned the book he wrote. Some of the names were a bit of a mouthful to try and pronounce (even mentally) but that's not the author's fault, and as far as complaints go, that's not even one that's worth registering."
"Defence of Rath Bladhma is a hard-hitting tale of life in an ancient time, when life was harsh and uncertain. It is the first book by Brian O'Sullivan's Fionn mac Cumhaill Series based on the legend of the mythical Irish warrior hero Fionn mac Cumhaill. Defence of Rath Bladhma tells the first part of Fionn mac Cumhaill's story, the time before and immediately after his birth. O'Sullivan has added some imaginative twists to the original legend, including the relationship between his aunt Bodhmhall and Liath Luachra and has fleshed out these and others who were part of Fionn's early life to create complex and lifelike characters."
Review from Goodreads Reviewer Ann O'Connor:
"The story is a modern take on the ancient Irish tale 'The Boyhood Adventures of Fionn', but it focuses very much on the initial stages of that particular tale. Fionn, himself, only appears as a newborn baby but his absence is more than made up for by the presence of two very strong female characters (the woman warrior Liath Luachra and the druidess Bodhmhall) and the hilariously complex warrior, Fiacail mac Codhna.
The pace is set early on when Fionn's pregnant Muirne Muncháem is travelling to the Ráth Bládhma of the title and has to defend herself against a wolf attack. After that the action and the tension never really stops as that settlement uses every trick at its disposal to defend itself against a fearsome cannibal horde and a kind of 'mind-controlling' druid, both of whom are trying to get their hands on the baby.
I really loved the complex relationship of the two main protagonists. This is touching and real but, at the same time, restrained and doesn't detract from the action and the various twists and turns. If you're looking for a book full of action but with realistic characters, this is highly recommended."
From the Author
The 'Ráth Bládhma' of the title is named after 'ráth' which was a kind of ring-fort used in Ireland from the beginning of the last millennium and 'Bládhma' which is the Irish place name for the Slieve Bloom mountains - found close to the geographical centre of Ireland.