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Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  1,954 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Morgan Llywelyn's Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish is the tale of the coming of the Irish to Ireland, and of the men and women who made that emerald isle their own.

Amergin, chief bard and druid of the tribe of Milesios, lives in a world without poetry. In bleak Iberia, his people would rather do battle than make great art, and Amergin can only dream of a home free from blood
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Tor Books (first published 1984)
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Oct 10, 2013 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dead-tree, historical
I found this book to be a bit of a slog if I didn't have time to read it in hour long chunks. Not one you can pick up and read in 10 minute intervals which is what I've been doing alot lately.

Having read her book, Lion of Ireland: The Legend of Brian Boru, I was excited to read more about Ireland's history. Until I read Bard I had no idea that there was a theory that the current occupants of Ireland descended from a tribe of Gauls that had migrated to the northern Iberian peninsula and then nort
Mike (the Paladin)
Ms. Llywelyn obviously loves the Irish (or at least her idea of the Irish). I have read several of her books and I mostly enjoy them. (As I've said before I don't particularly enjoy romance for romance's sake). It wouldn't do to criticize this work (or any of her works) for any historical inaccuracies as her "novels" are largely fantasy not historical fiction.

Ms. Llywelyn is an accomplished story teller and she can paint a picture of the mythical Ireland in which her characters move and breath t
Morgan Llywelyn writes most often about Ireland. I love Ireland and reading about Irish history, especially ancient Ireland. It seems like the one country that really is out of a fairy tale.

I also love reading about the historical/mythical figures of Ireland's past - she makes them become very real.

Bard is the story of the 'founding' of Ireland - well of those who we consider 'Irish'. The Milesians come to the island and make contact with the Tuatha Da Danans...a mythical 'fairy' race. This te
Jack Massa
Compelling, half-mythical story of the voyage of the Gaels to Ireland, circa 300 BCE.

Llywelyn is a master of the big canvas, and she effortlessly pot-boils up an array of interesting characters and powerful conflicts, centered on the large family of the "Sons of Mil."

The protagonist is Amergin, a semi-historical bard whose attributed poetry stands at the wellspring of European literature. A central theme is the contrasted loves of beauty and war, eros and thanatos, that stand at the core of th
I'm cleaning out my bookshelves and getting rid of some of the books I read years ago. I loved this book and Llywelyn for writing it. I hope if I have children they will read it and it will stir in them the longing to learn about a people from long ago that seemed to me so magical and amazing. It will be hard to part with this book but I know it will go to someone else where it will hopefully impact and impress.
Jason Kelley
Mar 10, 2008 Jason Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this years ago.
I remember really enjoying it. Fiction or fact? Who knows. She claims to have assembled the story from many myths. I believe her. Also, this story is where I got my e-mail tag from! Bitchin.
Jul 31, 2013 Marybeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my 2nd reading of the book, and it is as good (perhaps better) than the first read through. So much detail, so many lovely places to stop and dwell on the author's style which is reminiscent of the seanchaidhe of the Irish in those periods when it was illegal to be formally educated. Her obvious passion for, and eloquent use of, language is refreshing in a day and age where so few care anymore about the words themselves and turn more and more to stilted text speak and such (ugh).

Some ot
Monica Davis
3.5 stars! No question that the author can tell a great tale, and this one was conceptually very good. I was distracted by the seemingly disjointed, unbalanced, sub-story...too many unanswered questions, and a somewhat "abrupt", unsatisfying ending. All in all, an interesting meme to current cultural trends, with some wonderful symbology.
Aug 28, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this book tells the story of Amergin, a bard, and his brothers: the sons of Milesios. this is the tale of their migration from Iberia to the western isle (ireland), and how they vanquished the Tuatha de Danaan, to found the "irish" race. Llywelyn's books are marvelous, and i liked this one a lot.
Jan 31, 2007 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Celtic people
Got this one free at work at the book exchange. A weaving of the myths and legends of ancient Ireland and how the celtic people traveled from Normandy to Spain to Ireland and the early settling. Very easy and interesting read.
Fascinating tale. Listia will find it a new home. =)
Hannah Law
Nov 15, 2012 Hannah Law rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history buff
Recommended to Hannah by: My aunt

Bard, by Morgan Llywelyn, is a blend of fantasy and historical fact that centres around the coming of the Celts to Ierne, i.e., Ireland. The bard named in the title is Amergin, a druid and minstrel who is the son of Milesos, the clan-chief of a tribe. Amergin’s tribe lives in modern-day Spain, and is a tribe that focuses on swordsmanship and warriors rather than music and literature. So when Amergin learns of a fertile new country from visiting traders, he immediately makes plans to leave the tr
Dawn Lennon
Nov 21, 2016 Dawn Lennon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The mysteries of the people and cultures from ancient times reveal so much about those of us living in modern times--our capacity for good and ill, the impact of ego, the forces between pragmatism and art, and our struggles with tolerance and compromise. We experience a tour d' force on all of these themes as Morgan Llywelyn, a scholar of Celtic history, takes us into the lives of those Gaels who traveled from Gaul to Ireland (Ierne) in search of a lush land to resettle their tribes.

This is a st
Dean Chace
Jan 20, 2017 Dean Chace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having some Irish blood, and as a fan of mythology and fantasy, I found this book to be quite captivating. Despite it's small type, I had trouble putting it down. The story of Amergin the bard, the Gaels, and their eventual trek to and settlement of Ierne made for very enjoyable reading. I recommend highly to those interested in the story of the Celts and Irelands' distant history. While it is a novel, and therefore only "based on" truth, the story brings you a picture of what life may have been ...more
Kathy Doherty
My favorite of the series. If you're into Irish history, storytelling, music in this era, check it out.
Sharon Reamer
Hard to really order my thoughts about this book. I've been looking forward to reading it ever since I grabbed it off a shelf in a small Dublin bookstore last year at Shamrokon.

What I loved: the weaving of details into the story - clothes, food, houses, facial hair styles, etc. It made me really feel as I could see these southern Celts close up.

What I liked: the entangling of myth and history. Every historian is an interpreter and a writer of historical fiction even more so. I enjoyed Morgan Ll
Henry McLaughlin
I have long been a fan of Morgan Llywelyn and this book doesn’t disappoint. Originally written in 1984, it has been reissued by TOR (Tom Doherty Associates).

This novel is an epic description of how the Gaels came to Ireland, led by a druid bard, Amergin. A vision of a land across the unknown sea calls Amergin. When his native land on the Iberian Peninsula is weakened by drought and overcrowding, the clans adopt his vision and set sail for the land of his dream.

They find it after an arduous jour
Jun 03, 2012 Tina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of all things fantastic and magical, and I can say without a doubt that there is certainly a heft dose of that in this book The historical viewpoint of the tale of Amergin and his mighty brothers is an excellent introduction to this book.
The reason the book only gets 3 stars is that llywelyn seems to have left the story unfinished. There are great hints and pieces of begun tales that never get completed. I am, in fact, a fan of the "Happy ever after" ending, and this book falls far, f
Jul 28, 2011 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was ok. I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I've enjoyed a couple others by Llywelyn. Red Branch was much more enjoyable. In general I like her books but this one seemed a bit weak to me, I felt like it was dragging on to a disappointing ending.

As always she is very strong in the history. There is a sense of knowing the Irish in this book but yet something disappoints me? Perhaps it is the senes of Shakespearean tragety that encompases the book. Red Branch had that sense of the tragic fate ye
Lynn Parker
Mar 19, 2015 Lynn Parker rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful historical fiction story about the origins of the Celtic people as they journey to and take possession of Ireland. The epic tale is told by The Bard as only he could tell it. It's an older book (1984) that many would overlook. A friend of mine knew I loved the "Outlander" series and lent me The Bard because, like "Outlander", it tells the story of a family of proud warriors and peaceful people trying to survive in a warring, mystical, culturally rich time. The Bard is the first of a ...more
Sarah Stanfield
I wanted to love this book so, so badly. But the truth is, I just couldn't get through it. I hesitate to give this a poor rating, because it could just be me, but I just couldn't get into the story. It's so tantalizing--ever since I married a man from Ireland eight years ago, Irish mythology has intrigued me greatly, and nothing more than the Tuatha Dé Danann, the mythical race that conquered Ireland, who were then conquered by the sons of Milos, the mythical forebears of the modern-day Irish. U ...more
Jul 27, 2016 Lora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
When I picked this up from where it's been sitting for years collecting dust, I thought I was re-reading it, only to discover I was completely wrong. What a treat! I have admired many of Llywelyn's novels and her ability to tie words together in complex, beautiful knot work. While not quite a historical novel, some characters and events are based in the Irish tradition. Reading the afterword and looking at the bibliography were interesting and helpful in understanding the writer's choices. Like ...more
Jul 19, 2015 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read. Someone commented on this being a romance but I just can't see that since the girl isn't even met until the end. And no other people have any romance going on in this tribe, just jealousy & testosterone. The Bard's relationship with the girl strikes as odd since he describes her race as so small & frail, childlike. So the book is about the culture & the struggle that sends the people looking for land & the bloodthirsty ways of the people who need war so badly that peac ...more
Dec 25, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read this back in highschool and loved it. Now almost twenty years later I found I still enjoyed the tale of Amergin and his brothers. In alot of ways this feels like a soap opera celtic style with lots of angst and drama. I love the interweaving love hate relationships between the various characters and struggle of a bard in a warrior culture. I did feel the ending of this was very weak, but overall it was an enjoyable read.
Jul 18, 2015 Gracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While this book is very well composed and very difficult to put down, it lacks a balance of characters (1 hero, 2 or 3 friends, and a wealth of antagonists of varying levels of evil) and has possibly the most truncated non-ending I've read in recent memory. Absolutely tragic the way the book just stops short right after bad complications occur, which happen right after what could have been a fine ending! Bah.
Nov 21, 2014 Georgene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that this book has 465 pages, I sat down and read it through in one reading.

A deft weaving of myth, legend and fantasy, this book tells of how a group of Celts sailed from the northern tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the fabled shores of what we now call Ireland in about 500 B.C. An interesting and absorbing tale that kindle my interest in the first few pages and held until the end.
Though there were a couple of things left hanging in the story, and I was not pleased with the ending, I did enjoy this one very much. I have not read any other books by Morgan Llywelyn; perhaps those things left hanging would be answered in subsequent books. I shall read the next one in the series.
Joshua Merrick
Apr 04, 2013 Joshua Merrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A slow starter, but by chapter three I was completely taken and unable to put it down. Superbly researched, exquisitely written - this book is as evocative of the Celtic heritage as any I've come across, I could almost hear the music as I read, and by morning's light I longed for the green shores if Ierne!
Jack Cavanaugh
This is the second book by Morgan Llywelyn I've read, and I wish I could say it left a better impression. It didn't. Just a matter of style. I prefer more historical than romance and -- especially with the actions scenes -- I found myself cringing. Not the author's strength. While I enjoy Irish settings and stories, I doubt that I'd read another book by this author.
Jun 24, 2016 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A bit slow in the beginning, especially as Shinann only appears a little bit and then most of the story is about Amergin and the Gaels. No, slow isn't the word. Puzzling is. But then you get into the story and it's an intriguing read.

As a person who believes in the mystic and acknowledges the god in all living beings, human and otherwise, it was an excellent read.
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Morgan Llywelyn (born 1937) is an American-born Irish author best known for her historical fantasy, historical fiction, and historical non-fiction. Her fiction has received several awards and has sold more than 40 million copies, and she herself is recipient of the 1999 Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year Award from Celtic Women International.
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“She enjoys rain for its wetness, winter for its cold, summer for its heat. She loves rainbows as much for fading as for their brilliance. It is easy for her, she opens her heart and accepts everything.” 115 likes
“Bodies wear out to remind us they are temporary, and force us to spend more thought on our spirits” 6 likes
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