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Magdalen Rising: The Beginning (Maeve Chronicles)

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  556 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Young Magdalen and Jesus, brimming with youthful charm and arrogance, find each other and fall in love, forging a bond that is stronger than death. Their pleasure is overshadowed by a brilliant but unbalanced druid who knows a perilous secret about Maeve’s past. The prequel to The Passion of Mary Magdalen.
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Monkfish Book Publishing (first published April 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,743)
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Feb 20, 2009 Lia rated it it was ok
Shelves: historical
Two and a half. But it won't let us gives halves.

Overall: The book didn't work for me. In specific: there are some well-articulated moments (see below).

I think maybe my hopes were too high for this book. I was hoping for a book that really put a female-male balanced spiritual world-view. But instead, I got a strong dose of humanist feminism (beating men at their own game) scrubbed over with a sort of New Age/Celtic goddess magic-and-powers idea. As I read, what I kept hoping for was that the yo
Jul 08, 2007 Grace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Pagans, Seekers
Elizabeth Cunningham's book (originally sold under the title _Daughter of the Shining Isles_) tells the story of a woman raised by goddesses on a holy island. She goes to the druids to learn their ways, and there meets a man with whom she falls in love. Little does she know that this man would someday be known as Jesus Christ. This book is a fascinating discussion of paganism and Christianity, and explores the idea of what the "lost years" of Christ might have entailed. Definitely not for the cl ...more
G (galen)
Jun 24, 2008 G (galen) rated it really liked it
So just what was Jesus doing between the ages of 12 and 30? The time in which the bible is silent about his life has been speculated upon by many, and in this book Elizabeth Cunningham delightfully gives us her two cents.

We have the narration straight from the mouth of Mary Magdalen, but she is not called that yet; no she will not get that name until she travels to the Holy Land. Here her name is Maeve, young daughter of eight warrior witches, Celtic priestess in-training, a precocious fiery re
Apr 18, 2009 Katherine rated it really liked it
These novels by Elizabeth Cunningham are a great delight - bringing a celtic, feminine side to Christianity, if only it were really so... I have always had a strong connection to high fantasy and celtic culture and these are steeped in the best tradition and very well and entertainingly written. The fact that Cunningham comes from a long line of Episcopal ministers makes them even more interesting. These books are like a secret delight - you know the are not great literature with a Capital L but ...more
Peni Renner
Jul 18, 2009 Peni Renner rated it it was amazing
I love historical fiction and when I realized the identity of a certain child, I thought, OMG, what an interesting twist THAT makes!!! Loved it!
Lee Ann
Feb 26, 2015 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is the third time in less than six months that I have read this book, and I love it more every time I read it. Cunningham crafted such a wonderful cast of characters. The dynamics between Maeve, Branwen, and Viviane are awesome. It's fresh to see two girls (that is, Maeve and Viviane) who are supposed to be "enemies" grow to love each other almost as sisters. Girls helping girls is such a better trope than girls being catty to each other. It's one of the many great feminist lessons this boo ...more
The whole Maeve Chronicles series is superlative, highly recommended, one of my favorites. I would recommend it for fans of strong women, Celtic fantasy, Biblical reinterpretation, myth and magic, Goddess fiction, the Mists of Avalon. In a nutshell, Mary Magdalen is re-visioned as a Celtic ex-pat and Jesus' wife, a magical and strong and sometimes foolish woman, and her tale spans the course of four well-researched and well-written books. Written with cheek and humor and glory and beauty, all at ...more
This was...

I've just finished it, and I'm not entirely sure what it was, or how I feel about it.

I adored Maeve as narrator - snarky, irreverent, speaking directly to the reader at times, and explaining things without making a big deal of them.

But at the same time, I sort of feel that the conceit (Jesus training with the Druids on Mona, and Maeve being his 'other half'), not that it took away from the story, exactly, but that it didn't ADD anything to the story. Maeve's story by itself, without
Alena Orrison
Jul 28, 2016 Alena Orrison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Didn't want it to end!

This is one of those stories that I'm sad when I reach the end, not because the ending is sad (which it sort of is) but because I want the story to go on. Thankfully it does in the next book!

As far as the story goes, it is obvious there was lots of research done regarding the Celts of that time. I don't know much, but what I do know was portrayed accurately. It's an interesting tale to read. I like the idea of Mary Magdalene as a Celt and Jesus going to a Druid college to
Oct 08, 2015 PJ rated it it was ok
That this book has an average rating of 4.2 stars makes me start to mistrust the ratings on this site.
I tried so hard to like this book, I really wanted to. I was expecting something along the lines of The Red Tent; Biblical stories as told through the women's perspective. But I couldn't even get more than about 25% through before I had to stop. What annoyed me most was the language used in the book. It takes place centuries ago, yet the characters use modern language. This ruins it for me. I do
Jan 10, 2014 Jean rated it it was amazing
A beautiful and fanciful retelling of the story of Jesus and Mary Magdalen, when they were teenagers training in Celtic lands to become bards. He was called Esus, and she was Maeve. Maeve was brought up on a magical Isle with 8 Mothers, who told her that her Father was a God. The Irish worship Nature and all its glory. Esus is confused about Celtic custom and lore, but there are many missing years of his life that have not been commented on in the Bible. It is thought he traveled all over Europe ...more
Jul 02, 2016 Jody rated it it was amazing
Shelves: witchcraft, fiction, pagan
I had a little trouble starting this book but wow, once I got into it, I found I couldn't put it down!

In this story, Magdalen (called Maeve) is a Celt who has a witchy background. She sees that she is a soulmate to Jesus (Esus) and they meet at Druid college. They fall in love, but she is raped by Foxface (a Druid) who turns out to be her father as well. He kills himself. Esus is sent off quietly but the Druids blame Maeve as they had planned to sacrifice him. Her baby is taken away and the stor
May 23, 2013 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
What an incredible book. Made me think, made me chuckle, made me nod my head up and down to the point of headache.
Oct 17, 2008 Julie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women everywhere
Recommended to Julie by: faerian
Great book. I love the Maeve character and can't wait to read the next book in the series to follow her adventures.
Sep 20, 2008 Michele rated it really liked it
interesting to think of mary magdalen/jesus in this way. in NO WAY a Christian book... more pagan than anything else.
Aug 03, 2011 Tamam rated it it was amazing
Just as good as The Passion Of Mary Magdalen. Cunningham can really tell a story!
Tina Glenn
Judging a book by its cover.
I did it and I’m sad.

For years I’ve been wanting to purchase a series of books … well the first one and then I realized that there is a series and it made me want them even more. I’m a historical fiction nerd … not the bodice rippers per se (except the Diana Gabaldon series of Outlander). I really love reading fiction based in paleolithic, neolithic, early britain, gaul, etc … etc. Currently I’m on a Saxon/Nordic binge.

So, this series began because I saw the coolest
Lee Ann
Oct 26, 2014 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing
Wow. Wow wow wow. Okay. So I got this book randomly out of the library because I was like, "Oh, Mary Magdalen, my favorite Biblical figure," and, "WHOA and a ton of Celtic folklore?! My favorite!" Little did I know that this book was 1. SUPER feminist, 2. beautifully written, and 3. really captivating. And now... it's the topic of my thesis paper!

I don't even know where to start in my review, I'm still so dumbfounded over the book. I mean, might as well start at the beginning right?

The first thi
Pam Brown
May 19, 2015 Pam Brown rated it liked it
I'm disappointed that it's not even meant to be a serious attempt at historical fiction, but I like the author's writing style, and she tells a good story. As long as I know not to entertain even a bit of trust, it's good brain candy. I also enjoyed the Dexter books that were the source for the character in the "Dexter" TV show. The Dexter information was more reliable than the Magdalene information, but it's fun. The reliability of the Magdalene series is somewhere between "Da Vinci Code" and " ...more
Apr 06, 2014 Vanessa rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did, especially as I really enjoyed The Passion of Mary Magdalen, which this book is the prequel to. I guess I didn't find Maeve's earlier years as interesting as I did her time as a slave in Rome and then in the Holy Land, and I was also expecting more of Esus in it, since she tells their love story so brilliantly to the other whores in The Passion of Mary Magdalen. Then again, knowing how Maeve feels about "truth" and "good storytelling", I guess ...more
Feb 28, 2013 Silke rated it really liked it
This book swept me away from page one, but let me go again halve way through the book.
I loved the way Maeve (Magdalena) was portrayed. Such a fiery hearted young woman, a warrior in the flesh but also with the tongue.
I was especially pleased with the down to earth narration, I even found myself chuckling at certain passages of the book. I might understand that there are people out there who don’t like the mentioning of rock stars, New York and so on, but it worked for me. It was Maeve talking to
Apr 07, 2010 Candice rated it liked it
I first read the second book in this trilogy, The Passion of Mary Magdalen, three years ago. I LOVED that book and was curious to read how the story began. Turns out that the things I enjoyed about the second book held true for the first one as well: Cunningham's creativity in winding the traditional Jesus-Mary Madgalene story around other historical venues and cultures; the details of the historical setting; how she makes the characters come alive; the poetry of some of her descriptions; the "b ...more
Don Booty
Mar 21, 2012 Don Booty rated it it was amazing
Elixabeth Cunningham is a born story-teller, a trait apparently passed on by her Irish ancestors. The story she tells in this novel is a wonderful mix of historical, archeological and religious perspectives on not just the fascinating Celtic culture, but also an intriguing explanation for the mysterious "missing time" in the life of Jesus. And her imagining of Magdalen - yes, the very same Magdalen "most beloved" by Jesus in the Gospels - is stunning, in the way the author brings to full and jui ...more
Feb 05, 2016 Kay rated it really liked it
Shelves: mary-magdalen
This was a very imaginative work about the not so humble beginnings of Mary Magdalene. She is born and raised on an island of witches and sees visions of Jesus with whom she becomes obsessed. She goes to train as a druid where Jesus also is studying. While there, she finds out who her real father is and also her relationship with Jesus grows.
Planet J
Feb 07, 2016 Planet J rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the same as "Magdalen Rising: The Beginning (The Maeve Chronicles)"
Elizabeth Cunningham repackaged this book into Magdalen Rising: The Beginning (The Maeve Chronicles) dont buy or read Daugher of the Shining Isles if you have already read Magdalen Rising..or vice versa.
Sep 27, 2014 Monika rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
Initially, I did not enjoy this at all. First it was a lot of talk about celtic mythology type stuff which really didn't interest me. Second of all I was really disliking the Maeve, both because of the voice in which she was written and because of her behaviour/attitudes - she just was not likable. Around pg 100 I was going to stop reading, I just couldn't bear it, but I was disappointed I wasn't liking it so I read a bit further. Around pg 120 it gets a bit better. Admittedly there were still s ...more
Mar 17, 2015 Sally added it
Shelves: fiction
A fantasy tale that kept me reading, but I found the writing style unappealing. It may have been intended to reflect the adolescent voice of the heroine, so I might try the next volume to see if there's a change as the heroine matures.
Jan 30, 2016 Leah rated it it was amazing
Wow, one of the most captivating reads that I have ever gotten my hands on. Maeve is beautiful and completely uninhibited. The character and plot development are paced remarkably well. I will definitely be recommending this one.
Angelica Taggart
Oct 04, 2014 Angelica Taggart rated it liked it
Shelves: did-not-finish
As I started this book, I thought "What an interesting concept" however I just didn't get into it like I thought I would, and when I got the notice from the library that it was overdue, I just took it back.
Maybe it's because I've been so busy and haven't had time to read anything except for books for classes, but when I ask myself, "Will I check it out again to finish it?" the answer was "Why?"
It's NOT a bad book at all - just not the right time for it & me I suppose.
Nov 17, 2014 Tonya rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Cardboard cut out heroine. The author did no research on the time that she wrote about. Editing was annoyingly not complete. Do not read.
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Other Books in the Series

Maeve Chronicles (4 books)
  • The Passion of Mary Magdalen (Maeve Chronicles, #2)
  • Bright Dark Madonna (Maeve Chronicles, #3)
  • Red-Robed Priestess (Maeve Chronicles, #4)

Share This Book

“I've outgrown my childhood name, and I haven't found a new one yet."
"Ah," she cried. "Then it will be my pleasure to name you for myself. I can tell you are a colleen after my own heart, more like to me than my own daughter Findbhair. So I bestow on you the brave name of Maeve until such a time as another name shall claim you.”
“…these mothers at their midnight council were more like one great mind probing itself, divided at times as great minds may be, but one entity” 1 likes
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