This is far more of a superb reference book than it is an easy, cover-to-cover read. Having said that the introduction and appendices are superbly wri...moreThis is far more of a superb reference book than it is an easy, cover-to-cover read. Having said that the introduction and appendices are superbly written and informative. The real meat of the book is in its contents though.
You will find books covering the Gods of the Celts, or the Irish or the Welsh and even a few covering the Germanic and Saxon Gods, or the Vikings, or the Romans/Greeks but rarely will you find a book covering many of the deities associated with a given area over a course of history. That area is the British Isles which may be seen as somewhat unique in that it has had so many invaders and settlers that there is evidence of many Gods living here (hence the title).
David and Sorita, the authors, state that the period they are looking at covers the 1st Millenium to the Middle Ages and this is a good basis for understanding what you will find in this book. I think if you look a little further, some of the Gods they discuss actually predate this period and they even give some clues in the text as to the possible origin of some of the original god-names. The Name Gobannon, from Gaul, for example, seemingly predates the Govannon of the Welsh and the Goibhniu of the Irish.
They have attempted to provide deity genealogical trees in an appendix - which is an incredibly difficult task, as many texts and much evidence provides contradictory evidence. Good to be aware of though.
In later episodes of the Celtic Myth Podshow, you should be able to hear sample excerpts from this wonderful reference book, but I cannot ocmmend it highly enopugh to you nor thank David and Sorita enough for writing it nor giving us permission to quote from it! (less)
This is the first book in a series of three (although the author does say at the back of the book that there will be five!) centred on the magical vil...moreThis is the first book in a series of three (although the author does say at the back of the book that there will be five!) centred on the magical village of Stonewylde, hidden within a private estate deep in the heart of Dorset in the West Country. Stonewylde is a pagan community that has survived almost untouched since the Norman Conquest and jealously guards its independence from the outside world. Sylvie and her mother are invited into this community and the story revolves around Sylvie, her mother, and two other very strong characters: one of whom, a boy of Sylvie's years has many problems to contend with and the other, the leader of the community, is a very-complex, multi-faceted character.
The book seems squarely aimed at young adults and the plot seems to rush along with the strength and gay abandon of running youths. There is always something happening that keeps them all on their toes. Sylvie's slow awakening (no spoilers here) is enthralling and I'm sure that Kit Berry has invented a new word in this book that definitely should be in the English language.
To the adult reader, many of the plot elements may seem predictable (the obligatory bully, for example) but they are deeply involved with the plot and I'm anxiously waiting the next two books to see how the situations resolve.
Where this book really shines is in its depiction of the pagan society of Stonewylde. Rarely does the author resort to the raw displays of power that are found in works of fantasy, but instead, she draws the reader into a world where the energies of the Earth, Moon and Sun interweave in the lives of the participants at an almost subconscious level, only surfacing in a tremendous outpouring of joy at the time of the great Festivals. These are depicted as a mixture of surviving, and recently faded, folk-customs blended together with the beliefs and practices of modern pagans.
I really enjoyed this book - it was a lot of fun. For a book targeted at the young adult audience, I was half-afraid to find it a mixture of Buffy-esque monsters, displays of magic and angst-ridden romance. This, however, could not be further from the truth. The story is very much plot-driven, and in superlative fashion all of the above elements are present and correct, but understated rather than taking centre-stage leaving the reader to be carried along with the relentless rush of the story itself.