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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  370 ratings  ·  41 reviews
An acclaimed author interweaves history and legend to re-create the life of a complex man of faith fifteen hundred years ago. Winner of the 1987 Christianity and Literature Book Award for Belles-Lettres.

Author Biography:
Frederick Buechner is the popular author of such nonfiction titles as Telling the Truth, Wishful Thinking, and Peculiar Treasures. The New York Times Book

Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2000 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 1987)
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In the beginning, Brendon read like a Celtic version of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--in fact, I began to think of it as The Adventures of Brendan/Finn, since Finn, a traveling companion of Brendan's, serves as first-person narrator. The similarities: both involve a journey, there are encounters with idiosyncratic characters, and the stories are told in vernacular (sometimes which is quite amusing).

The novel takes a turn, however, when Brendan sets out to sea on his famous voyage in the ho
Kathy Disanto
Envy is a nasty emotion. That said, I would cheerfully walk five ... no, make that ten miles through the snow barefoot, every day for a month, to be able to write one tenth as powerfully as Beuchner does. This book is so full of rollicking, flesh-bound, bumbling-but-believing humanity, it threatens to burst the covers and swallow you up. Brendan may not be ten feet tall and bullet proof, but he's you and he's me and he's every believer forced to face the fact that his best will never be good eno ...more
This deserves more than three stars, but lately I've been unreasonably stingy.

Buechner strikes gold once again with this unusual tale of the saint Brendan, a 10th century Irish Catholic priest whose life is hallmarked by the many fantastic tales told about him. Separated from his uneducated parents at a young age and raised by nuns and monks, he set off on a journey by both land and sea in his early twenties at the urging of a friendly old nun, Ita.

Like all of Buechner's work, this novel is mad
Richard LeComte
Frederick Buechner followed up his classic "Godric" with this tale of a sixth-century saint, Brendan the Navigator, as told by his close friend and aid Finn. Buechner's faux-Gaelic prose makes the novel somewhat difficult to read at first, but once one gets used to the slightly off-kilter rhythms, the story emerges as one full of humor, fantasy and poignancy. Brendan, taken from his parents at age 1, is raised to be a priest just a generation after St. Patrick has brought Christianity to Irelan ...more
A rich and lush journey through Ireland during the height of monastic Christianity. This book is less about one man and his magical journey to Tir na nOg, than it is about every person he encounters. It is the side characters who bring this book to life and teach some of the greatest, most piercing lessons. "Brendan" reinvigorates the magic and wonder of the past by breathing humanity into some of the greatest struggles a man can face in the course of his lifetime.
Part history, part fantasy, part epic, part tall tale, this book left me feeling a bit dizzy. I appreciated the research and creativity that went into the story, and the writing was great. But the content tended to be a little too crass and (ahem) earthy for my taste, although I'm sure it captures the pre-Christian/post-Roman Irish culture rather well: severed heads on pikes, Druid magic, vulgar fertility rites, sea sickness, a mid-ocean conversation with Judas Iscariot, chess games with a blind ...more
I read this book at a critical time in my life. I had just become Greek Orthodox after having been an Evangelical and then Lutheran Christian.

This book came at a time when I was having trouble with hagiography (biographical writings about the saints focused on their ministries) and its preference to see only the holiest aspects of a person's life. Perhaps I am too much a product of my culture, but I'm a person who needs to see how a saint has overcome his or her failures to become the saint we
Found this title from a quote in another book. This one is a novel about a real St. Brendan who was born in 484 in Ireland. I could actually hear the Irish lilt in the words as I read. Set in the time of King Arthur, this is the story of Brendan, a baby taken from his parents to be raised with the monks. His life if a journey full of adventure and travels through Ireland and out to sea. He spends his life searching for Tri na n Og, Terrestrial Paradise and the tale is fascinating. Meetings with ...more
Allie Sheets
I have never heard the name Brendan before I read this book. I did my research after reading this book, and I found out that this is based on Saint Brendan, one of the first monks to reach America. This book follows Brendan during his life through the eyes of his life long friend, Finn. When I think of monks, I usually imagine a bunch of men praying for days one end. However, Brendan did much more than praying. He traveled a lot. He went from city to city to talk about the word of God. He also w ...more
Janet Kim
May 05, 2008 Janet Kim rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people that like good story-telling.
Recommended to Janet by: Jason Toth
I loved the concept of this book--taking a medieval legend and extending it to novel proportions. The language was beautiful and archaic with some curious recurring motifs. The chapter/section written from the point of view of the titular character (I love the word "titular") was particularly lovely. At certain times I was slightly reminded of Tolkien and you can interpret that however you want to (good or bad). It's just an observation, not a judgment.

Oh, and the person who recommended this boo
Ken Vaughan
Saint Brendan is one of the most well-known Irish saints. This fictionalized account of his life is narrated by his life-long friend Finn.
The story follows Brendan’s life, from his birth around 484, to his death 91 years later. Central to the story are two sea voyages Brendan undertook.
The author weaves what little is known about the historical Brendan with the mythology which emerged in the years after his death, to create a convincing first person narrative. The story is told with wit and grea
Karen Chow
This book is a crazy ride. It has tall tales (and places where you have to go back and reread a section because your reaction is "What just happened?!") and bawdy excerpts and touching moments.

Buechner really highlighted the human side of Brendan's life (he's an Irish monk by legend) through the eyes of Brendan's best friend Finn. The language was a little hard to read (since it ignored a lot of grammar rules), but was authentic and raw.

It was different from anything I've ever read before, and I
Pat Loughery
This is a historical fiction novel, enfleshing the life and story of Saint Brendan the Navigator. Brendan is one of the best-known Celtic saints and perhaps best known for his adventuring spirit, which took him on sea voyages that went as far as Greenland and quite possibly North America from the northwest coast of the US and perhaps to Florida.

I'm familiar with Brendan's story, and this novel does the story great justice. It's engaging and entertaining, playful even.

I'm even more impressed with
Mark Vashon
Loved this read. Buechner ranks with the best of all time with some of his stream of consciousness style passages in this novel.
I enjoyed Brendan: A Novel very much - his method of retelling the myth alternates between an involved narrator perspective to a more mythological one when Brendan and crew sail in search of Tír na nÓg.

The characters and story are entertainingly funny with streaks of sadness and sad reverie keeping it from flying off in the too farcical direction.

I would have given it 5 stars if I didn't find my interest getting a bit lost in during the first Tír na nÓg section.

Taking a breather and coming back
Brendan is a biographical novel about Brendan (484-577 A.D.), an Irish monk who lived shortly after St. Patrick. Legends about Brendan are retold, especially that of his voyage in a leather covered boat with a few companions that lasted several years. The final chapter provides insight "We are cripples all of us....To lend each other a hand when we're falling," Brendan said. "Perhaps that's the only work that matters in the end."

It's a look at primitive monastic life. Impressive that the gospel
David Mills
"Heaven sent me," he (Brendan) said.
I just picked this book up again... I really love it and it's earthy view of God. Highly recommended, though I may not get all the way through it again (though it really isn't so long, I've just read it a few times...) Fun Irish saint reading- interesting slice of earlier christian life. It is not at all "Christian literature" though- more just "literature that deals with faith and Christianity." I know you know the difference.
Steve Penner
This was the second book of fiction, after Godric, I read of Buechner's. I don't think it quite meets the high standard of Godric, but is a great story nonetheless. Writing about early saints is certainly a task with inherent dangers. When we read them as real people with real insecurities and shortcomings, we may experience disappointment and disillusionment. But when Buechner tells their story, faith is fortified.
Buechner uses Brendan's friend and traveling companion, Finn, as the narrator to tell the story of Brendan's life and his amazing journeys - which possibly took him as far as Florida a thousand years before Columbus set sail. The author blends history and legend to bring Brendan back to life in a most believable way as a man of faith who struggled with doubt and his purpose in life. A most enjoyable read.
As this book veers into Magical Realism, a genre I don't particularly enjoy, and has a bawdiness to it that detracts from the storyline, I found myself not engrossed.
However, now and then, I'd find myself absolutely absorbed in an amazing meditation on living Christ, and appreciated that all who were saints were not just one-dimensional.
Brendan is not for the fainthearted reader. But it's fantastic. My husband read so many parts out loud that I finally told him to quit and read it myself. Equal parts hilariously crude and beautifully told, it's a novel version of the Brendan voyage. The writing is rich without being overdone and the story-telling keeps you hooked.
DJ Dycus
I didn't enjoy this quite as much as "Godric," but still quite good. Buechner creates colorful and interesting characters; he brings 5th-century Ireland to life. Brendan himself offers an interesting portrait of someone who is revered by others, but has a hard time seeing past his own failings.
Humorous yet somewhat sad story of Brendan....kinda like the Irish in general. Would like to have seen the sacred side of Brendan's life but then again, the author wanted to appeal to a larger more secular audience.Very enjoyable and exciting read...just not inspirational.
What a treat. I've never seen a novel that can show the medieval mind in such a convincing way. The characters were all rich and multi-dimensional. Don't expect a modern, driving plot-line, but be open to a more biographical wandering, and this book will delight.
Brent Soderstrum
I was very disappointed in this book. It is about a 5th century saint named Brendan. It was written as a fable and fantasy literature is really not my type of book. It was painful even getting through the first chapter and life is just too short for that.
By the way, while I read this book some 20 years ago -- I still remember laughing out loud (oh, that's what LOL means :) ) on more than one occasion. The single best writer of the past generation or two. John Irwin's a Prayer for Owen Meany comes close.
This book has changed the way I think about faith. It is profoundly moving as a novel about very particular characters, but it is also a fascinating study of early Christianity in Ireland, especially in its collisions with a pagan culture.
This is a great historical but imaginative novel written in a style that kept me on my toes. I loved reading about St. Brendan while I was in Ireland seeing some of the places he is believed to have frequented in the 6th century.
Claudia Putnam
Great writing, terrific voice, which is why 4 stars. Felt like more of a series of events rather than integrated work of art, which is why not 5.
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Frederick Buechner is a highly influential writer and theologian who has won awards for his poetry, short stories, novels and theological writings. His work pioneered the genre of spiritual memoir, laying the groundwork for writers such as Anne Lamott, Rob Bell and Lauren Winner.

His first book, A Long Day's Dying, was published to acclaim just two years after he graduated from Princeton. He entere
More about Frederick Buechner...
Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy, and Fairy Tale Listening to Your Life: Daily Meditations with Frederick Buechner Godric The Sacred Journey: A Memoir of Early Days Telling Secrets

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