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3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  253 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
This is the story of Saint Brendán the Navigator, whose legendary quest to find the Isle of the Blessed is one of the most remarkable and enduring of early Christian tales. Among Irish saints, Brendán the Navigator is second only to Patrick. Founder of several Christian monasteries, he most famously guided a group of monks on a dangerous journey into the unknown vastnes
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 16th 2010 by Forge Books
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Richard Sutton
Jan 31, 2012 Richard Sutton rated it really liked it
It can be a challenging read, but then the end is worth the effort. Late in Brendan, the author, in one of the rambling, associative story threads that make this novel, Brendan mentions the "Thin Places" in the warp and fabric of creation, where other spiritual realms intrude close by our reality. The entire book, I found, lies along a seam ripped in one of these thin places.

If a reader expects a straight line narrative, then this would not be a good choice, as it wanders in and around three and
Aug 17, 2011 Kerry rated it liked it
Morgan Llywelyn is one of my all-time favorite authors. I love her take on Celtic history and mythology – particularly the way she can tell larger than life stories and still not lose sight of the individual people at the heart of the legend. Her latest book, Brendan, tells the story of St. Brendan the Navigator who, according to legend, sailed off to find Paradise, visiting many fantastic places and having many incredible adventures along the way. It reminded me a lot of an Irish / Christian ve ...more
Joseph Finley
Jul 07, 2013 Joseph Finley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Sixth Century Ireland, the novel reads like a biography of Brendan the Navigator, one of the most renown Irish saints. While it’s primarily written in the third person, the narrative is interspersed with the saint’s first-person recollections as if he was writing his memoir, as well as passages that purport to be from “The Voyage of Saint Brendan,” his personal account of his most legendary journey.

Brendan’s mentor is Bishop Erc, one of Saint Patrick’s original disciples and a former drui
Apr 26, 2010 McNeil rated it it was ok
A book about an ancient Irish saint. There's so much potential there.

It started out enticingly with this Brendan fella on this voyage to paradise. As in, literally, he thought he could reach heaven by boat, by sailing west from Ireland. So that was cool, some mystical stuff, the rawness of a new faith still feeling the effects of the influence of paganism. But the whole pagan thing was too underplayed. It started out with these references to these mysterious hooded figures, the druids, an
Mar 29, 2010 Ollie rated it liked it
PW says Morgan Llywelyn’s retelling of the colorful life story of revered Irish monastic saint Brendan the Navigator is done in the form of a personal journal, written by an elderly Brendan, interspersed with third-person glimpses of the Great Voyage he undertook with 14 monks to find the fabled earthly paradise of the Western Sea, the Isles of Blest.
This book is a statement of faith and the belief in the use of self-discipline to achieve things we had not believed we would be capable of achiev
Apr 04, 2014 Joy rated it liked it
I read quite a lot of Morgan Llywelyn's books when I was in college, and enjoyed them greatly. I hadn't gotten to this one, so I picked it up off my shopping list a little while ago and read through it over the past week or so. It was a solid book, nothing special, but enjoyable and a nice visit back to the author's world.

The story follows Brendan, aka Saint Brendan the Navigator, throughout his life and the voyage searching for the Isles of the Blest that secured his name in history. The story
Dec 29, 2009 Bridget rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
I remember reading a review of this book a while ago, and then immediately forgot that it ever existed. But a couple of weeks ago, on one of those every-book-is-one-you-want-to-read visits to the library, I saw it on the shelf, and decided to see what I thought about it.

In a nutshell: very good! It's written somewhat like Brendan's diary, towards the end of his life, where he is trying to put his reminiscences in order. The story of early Christian Ireland, where Christianity and paganism lived
Justin Morgan
Jan 05, 2013 Justin Morgan rated it really liked it
I'll admit this book had a lot to live up to since Frederick Buechner's novelization of the life of Brendan is so close to my heart, but Llywelyn didn't disappoint. That being said, the book has it's challenges. It's narrative is disjointed (but not difficult to follow) and many of the large cast of characters are extremely underdeveloped. The book doesn't have a strong plot line but instead rolls along at a steady place, flowing in and out of multiple timelines and tenses. However, I was super ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Linda rated it it was amazing
I so enjoyed this book. I didn't know much about Brendan prior to reading this and I have a whole new respect for who he was.

The book was a bit disjointed - hard to keep track of what was happening when, and what was written in Brendan's journal and what was Brendan's memory or not. But I had fun meandering down the many possibilities as I read of his adventures.

What stood out for me was the love he carried in his heart all of his life for the woman who was his foster-mother and how that love i
Sep 16, 2013 Cathy0584 rated it liked it
Moved a bit too slow in parts for me, but otherwise I enjoyed the story and characters and a look at a way of life in a long past time--when the great monasteries and repositories of knowledge were being founded in Ireland. Brendan is an interesting character--not sure what I expected from a monk and abbot of the mid first millenium, but he seems to be a charismatic presence who has his definite faith, but still struggles with the temptations of ego. First I've read by this author, and I do inte ...more
Massanutten Regional Library
Andrew, Main circulation staff, June 2015, 4 stars:

Another great historical novel by Morgan Llywelyn, the master storyteller of Irish history. This book tells the story of one of Ireland's most famous saints, Brendan the Navigator.

Told from three time periods of his life, you see Brendan grow from a young child, become one of the islands most respected church leaders, and follow him on his voyages, maybe even to North America.

This is a great historical novel, a great look at early Christianity
Jun 15, 2013 Mary rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Llywelyn always captures the atmosphere of the time and place she's writing about. Obviously, this is a novel, but she keeps the story true to the facts as well as possible when describing the life of someone who lived in the 5th and 6th centuries. Brendan the Navigator has always fascinated me, as has the dawn of Christianity in Ireland where St. Patrick managed to win converts without destroying the fiber of the existing culture. Llywelyn treated Brendan as a real person rat ...more
Aug 07, 2011 Ann rated it really liked it
Being half Irish and half Scot, I loved the history. Being human, I loved the history and spiritual questions/quest even more. Not having read the author before, I was surpised at how well the book was written .. it could have been done so tritely, but was not. This was not a book about sea serpents and other oddities .. it was about love and life and strength and faith and belief. And it was a great connection between the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and my life today. Saint Brendan is.
Morgan Llywelyn is a masterful storyteller and is one of the best Irish-history-themed writers around. Brendan is a wonderful blend of Irish 6th century History, folklore, religion, biography and culture wrapped in a blanket of warm and comfortable fiction. One can almost smell the turf and feel the surf in this novel. One of the best ever written on early monastic Christianity in Ireland. Find a comfortable chair and a hot cup of tea and relax with this wonder of a book. It is a rare treat.
Lindsay Eaton
Brendan is a fictionalised account of the life and voyages of Saint Brendan the Navigator, one of the most beloved Irish saints - described to perfection by Morgan Llywelyn, an acclaimed historical novelist who writes about both ancient and modern Irish history. I like her ancient history books best, and this one was a delight. As one reviewer remarked - "Morgan Llywelyn writes about ancient Ireland as if she just had breakfast there". She does too.
Jul 21, 2011 Christina rated it liked it
Interesting read. Unlike anything I have read before. It was interesting reading about a time and people I know little about. It was also interesting reading about Brendan's journey through life. It was a bit slow at times, but I suppose that could be expected in a story about a wandering Irish monk!
Sep 17, 2011 Veronica rated it it was ok
I have loved Llywelyn's novels in the past and was very disappointed with this one. Perhaps it was the subject matter but I found the novel lacking the intensity with which she usually writes. The characters seems quite unbelievable to me.
Marianne Bradle
Jul 30, 2011 Marianne Bradle rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written prose, almost reads like an epic poem, Llewelyn mixes history, myth,legend and fiction to produce a spellbinding picture of the great navigator and Irish saint. I read it in one sitting, could not put it down and plan to read it again for the sheer beauty of the language.
Feb 08, 2016 Megan rated it liked it
Some bits of this were interesting, particularly when depicting early-Christian-Ireland, but the narrative was too slow and muddled. I had the impression that I was supposed to know Brendan's story already.
Aug 04, 2012 Elaine added it
Am a huge fan of Llywelyn, so am very much looking foward to this, which chronicles the life of Brendan, an early Irish saint. Based on a mixture of fact and fiction, this should be a stimulating read.
Epiphany Ferrell
Apr 27, 2013 Epiphany Ferrell rated it it was amazing
I cannot think of anything I've read from Morgan Llywelyn that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. This book, with its narrative intertwining like Celtic design, contains moments of lyrical truth, of simple beauty, of complex yet elusive philosophy and mysticism. And yet it's also a tale, simply. Superb.
Jan 15, 2015 Heather rated it it was amazing
Hauntingly beautiful. <3
Aug 24, 2010 Magda rated it liked it
Not as good as I remember Morgan Llywelyn's books, but perhaps I expect more when there's a historical fiction about a saint.
Oct 06, 2013 Carmen rated it liked it
A fictionalized acccount of Saint Brendan the Navigator. It does a great job of setting his life in the times. It helped me realize even more how great his accomplishments were.
Rachel Kragh
Aug 12, 2012 Rachel Kragh rated it liked it
Quote from the book that I liked..."The Bishop believed creativity identified a person as being spiritually alive. 'What they create is not as important as the fact they do create'..."
Apr 22, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
Beautifully written.
Jan 05, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it
I have forgotten how good a writer Llywelyn is.
Jul 02, 2013 Mimi rated it liked it
Stronger than I expected it to be, an interesting and quick read.
Sep 03, 2012 Wendy rated it really liked it
Very enjoyable read. Made me wish I could hear the "sun singing" and the "earth humming".
Caroline Pignat
Caroline Pignat rated it really liked it
Jan 28, 2014
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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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“Although Erc was bitterly disappointed, there was another route to prestige. He possessed gifts of the mind sufficient to gain admittance to the order of Druids, the intellectual class of Celtic society. Members of the order were not practitioners of a specific religion, nor were they priests in the Christian sense of the word. The Greeks were more nearly correct by describing Druids as poet-philosophers.” 1 likes
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