Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! I don’t know about you, but around our house, for a certain person in particular, this holiday is more special than birthdays and I think maybe even Christmas. This is serious, people. We usually celebrate by cooking up some authentic Irish cuisine for supper (but no, not corned beef and cabbage. There’s a taboo about that around here). How do you make merry on this day, where everyone claims to be, just a little bit, Irish? (My siblings and I have an ─ an ─ Irish grandfather somewhere back there in the greats. It’s enough for us).
Of course, there’s so much more to the Irish culture than clovers and certain, dark beverages. The Celtic history is rich and ancient, sparking the imaginations of generations of lore of grand kings, battles, songs, and glory. And who doesn’t love that knotwork? I know I do!
There are an infinite number of books surrounding Celtic legend and history, but today I want to tell you about the few (woesomely few) that I have read. You’ll probably notice that a good number of them are from the same author, and no, that’s no typo. The man’s a genius and I have really enjoyed his work, but I am looking for more stories from a broader range of authors, so if you know any, please share!
And now, without further adieu:
I’ve mentioned this series by Stephen R. Lawhead before, but it’s such a good story, wrapping the legend of Robin Hood into Welsh guise. Full of wile, wits, and archery, this is so far my top favorite retelling of the story.
Here’s another one that I fell in love with. The culture in this story is rich, brimming with Celtic epicness, as college student Lewis finds himself transported to the Otherworld, in which the ancient Celts are very real! His destiny becomes intricately interwoven with them as he learns their ways, earns their trust, and, eventually, their loyalty.
After all, one can’t save the worlds all by himself.
What I really loved about this trilogy was how the beginning and the ending merged together to form a loop. Kind of like one of those Celtic knots. Hm.
Let’s break it up a wee bit and add one from someone else. How to Train Your Dragon is a Viking story by Cressida Cowell. What first began as a children’s story, How to Train Your Dragon has come to span all age groups with its heart. It carried way more depth than I was used to with the age genre (something we’ve been missing and need more of, personally).
It’s a story about growing up. Of becoming a Hero the Hard Way, through struggles, loss, and betrayal. But it also bears throughout the importance of friendship, sacrifice, and doing what is right even when it’s hard.
As the title implies, this book, a standalone novel, is about Patrick. You know, Saint Patrick. The English boy who was taken to Ireland as a slave and then, after getting his freedom, up and went back! It’s been a while since I’ve read this, but it shows us that there is a power out there bigger than ourselves, prompting us to bigger and better things than we could ever do on our own.
Last one, and again, one of Lawhead’s (I really need to find more by other authors. Any suggestions?) This cycle is the grand legend of King Arthur and Merlin (ah, Merlin) and the quest for kingship. If you’re a fan of all things Arthurian, your experience is not complete without this dozy under your belt. It’s intense and epic and has this awesome sword called Excalibur. Have you heard of it?
There are others on my to-read list as well:
- The Celtic Crusades and The Dragon King trilogies, by Stephen R. Lawhead (I know, but he’s so good!)
- The Sea of Trolls trilogy, by Nancy Farmer
- Celtic Myths and Legends, by Peter Berresford Ellis
- Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, by Rick Riordan (I love me my Norse . . . everything, just about)
Have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Let us know! Word of mouth is the best way to share about awesome books, so let’s talk!