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My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries, #1)
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My Lady Judge (Burren Mysteries #1)

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  558 ratings  ·  88 reviews
In the sixteenth century, as it is now, the Burren, on the western seaboard of Ireland, was a land of gray stone forts, fields of rich green grass, and swirling mountain terraces. It was also home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears.

On the first eve of May, 1509, hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged
Hardcover, 311 pages
Published September 18th 2007 by Minotaur Books (first published January 1st 2007)
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Having enjoyed one of the more recent books so much, I decided to start from the beginning of the series.

Here we see Ireland - so often an afterthought in English history books - at the time of Henry VIII's ascension to the throne, undergoing some cultural changes and seeing the threat of becoming nothing more than an English province, potentially losing hundreds of years of legal judgements and history. Unlike English law, Irish law was more compassionate, less about fierce judgement and more a
Ana T.
love to read mysteries and when that is combined with an historical setting I can't resist adding them to my wish list. That was what happened with this book, I read a review somewhere and thought it might be interesting. It was!

The story is set in 16th century Ireland, Mara O'Davoren is a Brehon, a judge in the kingdom of Burren, and she runs a law school. Mara is an interesting woman and the glimpses we have of her past only made me more curious about her. She is a keen judge of character an
Diane K.
If you happen to be a fan of Peter Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mysteries, you will likely enjoy this series. Both deal with formidable Irish ladies who are trained in the Irish Brehon laws. While the Sister Fidelma books take place in the seventh century, at a time when the Irish Celtic church was beginning to go head to head with the Roman church, this series is set just after Henry the Eighth has become king of England. The Irish Church has become firmly absorbed by the Roman, and now the Irish ...more
First of a new historical series set in early 16th century Ireland, featuring Mara, Brehon (judge and lawyer) of the Burren, a somewhat isolated area of western Ireland. When one of Mara's assistants at the law school she runs, Colman, is found stabbed to death the morning after the Beltaine celebration on the mountain, it is up to her to investigate. Before too long, she realizes that she was not the only person who didn't much like her unpleasant assistant--he was blackmailing numerous people, ...more
It was ok. I had a big problem with Mara, the brehon. It seemed to me that just when she ought to be questioning people to get to the heart of a problem, she was letting them walk away. She also had a very, very poor understanding of a character who had been in her school for fourteen years.

And the main problem I had with the story was the writing, particularly when it comes to describing emotions and feelings. In one sentence, for example, Mara smiles, and in the next she's impatient. This type
Susan Parks
Very interesting. I am looking forward to the next one.
Ellen Keim
I'm of a split mind about this book: I enjoyed the historical background but was bored by the main character, mainly because she was just too perfect (if there can be such a thing). She didn't have any flaws or self-doubt and the life she lived was almost idyllic. As a result, the book doesn't have any bite to it. There are intimations of troubles ahead, but Mara (the lady judge) chooses to ignore them. She's faced with a big decision in this book, but seems unconcerned about making it. She supp ...more
Robin Evans
This tale takes place in Ireland in 1509 and is centered on their judicial system at that time, Brehon law. The main character is Mara, a female judge. This could have been a better book if Mara had stopped talking about how Brehon law was so much better than English law. She continually detailed how the English enacted brutal punishments and Brehon law simply required confession and a monetary fee. The Irish basically paid for their crimes. Each person in society was assigned an "honour price" ...more
First book in the series. It wasn't really spoiled by not being the first of the series I read. Picked up the second book while at the library today.
Good plot, neat setting, bad writing. If you're going to use a foreign language term, don't always couple it with the translation.
Clare O'Beara
This gently-paced tale set on the Burren region in the west of Ireland, shows a lady Brehon or judge called Mara. She teaches a law school of young students - the author has been a principal teacher. At this time Henry VIII has just come to power in England and there are fears that the new wealthy king will look to extend his power overseas.

Mara fears that the students may be involved when a young man is found dead after a traditional celebration on a mountain. However she is a kind and trusted
Trevor Hollingsworth
Ive been meaning to start reviewing each book I read on here and I keep putting it off. I usually read 3 or 4 books at the same time and Im sad the first I finished in this last batch was this one and now my first review will be a negative one. I cant wait to finished two of the others im reading so I can spout joyous praise but for now... there is this review. I hate to rip on books because all books have value and I have a great respect for those who are able to get published and share there w ...more
Cora Harrison’s My Lady Judge is a simple, enjoyable read that also presents an important perspective on medieval Ireland. Harrison’s thorough knowledge of Brehon law informs an engaging murder mystery and creates an intimate vision of 16th century Ireland without falling into pedantry. So much of what we know about medieval Ireland is derived from English texts – see Edmund Spenser’s A View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) or John Derrick’s The Image of Irelande (1581; contains some incre ...more
Diane  Morasco
The amazingly talented Cora Harrison, a veteran novelist for children, steps into the adult sphere w/ an alluring historical novel that will knock you breathless w/ her vivid imagery.

Harrison has created an empowering heroine w/ the delightful, energetic & lovable Mara.

Harrison delivers the goods w/ an unparalled mystery set in a medieval kingdom off the spectacular coast of Ireland.

Mara is Brehon (a medieval Irish judge) of the Burren, appointed to this distinguished position by the King hi
Gaelic Ireland was on the treshold of new times in the early 16th century. The Tudors were builing up their power in England and Ireland’s old society and its customs were changing. The old Gaelic laws were based on the consensus of the community, mutual aid and sense of responsibility.

The status of women in Ireland was generally speaking good compared with the conditions elsewhere those days. For example, divorce was legitimate, also on the initiative of the wife, and women could work independe
MY LADY JUDGE (Hist. Mys-Mara-Ireland-1509) – VG
Harrison, Cora – 1st in series
Macmillan, 2007, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9781405091909

First Sentence: It was the, as it is now, a land of grey stone.

The people of Burren, Ireland climbed Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate May Day. After the celebrations, one person doesn’t return. Mara is the Brehon or judge and lawgiver who had been appointed by King Turlough. Mara’s assistant, Colman, has been murdered and Mara must uncover the killer.

Prior to reading
I used to read a lot of historical fiction, but have never cared much for mysteries set in the past. This one may make me change my opinion. Set in early 16th century Ireland, our heroine, Mara, is a Brehon, a judge, who runs a small law school, as well. She deals with a wide variety of cases, in particular a rape and a murder. There is a lot of really interesting info about the ancient Irish legal system and a wonderful sense of place with the descriptions of western Ireland. This is the first ...more
Pros: Harrison's writing isn't painfully bad, like Peter Tremayne's.

The romantic connection between Mara and the king is both skillfully written and plausible.

Cons: Harrison's writing isn't great, either.

She feels the need to use Irish words and phrases even when it creates stilted prose, sometimes going so far as to have the characters translating their own Irish words to each other, despite all the characters speaking Irish Gaelic.

Similarly, Harrison can't seem to resist throwing in histor
Loved this. These tales are apparently based on actual cases from 15th/16th century Ireland. Mara is the Brehorn of Burren (my best guess is sort of like a DA here). She's the only female Brehorn in Ireland (a divorced one at that) and responsible for a law school (where they started their legal education at 8 years old....) and trying and judging all local legal cases. Henry the VIII is newly crowned and the possibility of an English threat looms quietly in the distance. However, murder, mayhem ...more
I really enjoyed this book. The setting in 16th century Ireland was fascinating. The Celtic law was so sensible for an area ruled by the clans. The clan structure allowed for a society that was ordered and in many cases more fair than English law.

The main character, Mara, Brehon of the Burren was a strong intelligent character. It was easy to develop an interest in her and her community. I have ordered the next book in the series and will read it soon. I will likely save it as I enjoy savoring b
The Burren on the west coast of Ireland is a stony landscape with mountains, caves, tombs, and a surprising variety of colourful flowers growing between the slabs of stone. It is 1509 and Mara O'Daveron is Brehon of the Burren, the judge. She also runs a small law school. On Judgement day, the eve of Bealtaine, the people of the kingdom gather at the Dolmen of Poulnabrone and cases are heard. King Turlough Donn is also present. Afterwards, many will go up the mountain where the May Day bonfire w ...more
I quite enjoyed this story of murder and the brehon legal system set in the time of Henry VIII. Mara, Brehon of the Burren, runs a legal school on the Burren and makes judgement on lawbreakers, advising the local leader on what's correct.

It's May Eve, Bealtine, people climb Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate the festival, and return home afterwards. However one of Mara's students doesn't, and when Mara starts investigating she finds a lot of possible reasons for his death.

It's a little too ligh
I picked this book up because of the setting: late 1400s Gaelic Ireland--specifically the Burren. I visited Ireland several years ago, and the Burren made quite an impression.

I was delighted by this book. It's a wonderful example of historical fiction. The time & place are integral to the story; the characters are well-developed and no one seems anachronistic. I thought the notes about Brehon law were very interesting and I was impressed by how well Harrison integrated the notes into her st
While the murder mystery is well done, I recommend this book primarily for the excellent immersion into life in Ireland of the 1500's (around the time Henry VIII ascended the throne of England). It highlights the culture and laws of these small towns & kingdoms and their closely knit societies. Mostly I loved learning about the Brehon laws and customs, and how they differed from the Roman laws that eventually became English common law (and thus our laws). A different way of looking at crime; ...more
This book is set in 1509 in Ireland where people live by the Brehon laws which seem to work well. The main character Mara is the judge and hands out her judgments when the laws are broken. She comes across as a very caring gentle person who runs a school for young boys who wish to study the law.
During the May day festivals the whole village celebrate by dancing and singing and lighting fires in ther mountains, but one young man doesn't come down again and the story is about Mara trying to find
interesting story about medieval Ireland, a setting not familiar to me. While the mystery was relatively simple, it's all the characters and journey to the end that I enjoyed. Would definitely read another of Harrison's story featuring the Female judge.
As a lover of historical mystery, this book did not disappoint. Add a strong, smart female lead and I'm hooked. Looking forward to reading more in this Irish series featuring Brehorn Mara and her law learning lads.
Did this with the Historical Mystery Group some years back. Great series that we all enjoyed very much. Have not read all the ensuing books from lack of reading time....
This is a really interesting book about a time/place in history of which I know nothing, fascinating to see the differences in Irish law. Glad I found this series
This is an enjoyable read with great characters and a fast paced plot. I especially enjoyed learning about Brehon laws of Ireland. Very interesting.
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Cora Harrison worked as a headteacher before she decided to write her first novel. She has since published twenty-six children's novels. My Lady Judge was her first book in a Celtic historical crime series for adults that introduces Mara, Brehon of the Burren. Cora lives on a farm near the Burren in the west of Ireland.

More about Cora Harrison...

Other Books in the Series

Burren Mysteries (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • A Secret and Unlawful Killing (Burren Mysteries, #2)
  • The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries, #3)
  • Writ in Stone (Burren Mysteries, #4)
  • Eye of the Law (Burren Mysteries, #5)
  • Scales of Retribution (Burren Mysteries #6)
  • Deed of Murder (Burren Mysteries #7)
  • Laws in Conflict (Burren Mysteries #8)
  • Chain of Evidence (Burren Mysteries #9)
  • Cross of Vengeance (Burren Mysteries #10)
  • Verdict of the Court: A mystery set in sixteenth-century Ireland
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend Debutantes Jane Austen Stole My Boyfriend A Secret and Unlawful Killing (Burren Mysteries, #2) The Sting of Justice (Burren Mysteries, #3)

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