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The Princes of Ireland

(The Dublin Saga #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  12,201 ratings  ·  1,019 reviews
Edward Rutherfurd's great Irish epic reveals the story of the people of Ireland through the focal point of the island's capital city. The epic begins in pre-Christian Ireland during the reign of the fierce and powerful High Kings at Tara, with the tale of two lovers, the princely Conall and the ravishing Deirdre, whose travails echo the ancient Celtic legend of Cuchulainn. ...more
Hardcover, 776 pages
Published March 2nd 2004 by Doubleday Books (first published December 16th 2003)
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Sarah Lodge I love this book, but from a female character perspective, there's a few too many 'stunning' girls with 'striking' eyes that beguile men.

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From Edward Rutherfurd’s website:
Q. You have said in interviews in the past that you refuse to cheat on history. What do you mean by that?
A. My fictional characters are free to follow their personal destinies; but I never alter the historical record just to suit my convenience, or my prejudices. Novelists and movie-makers are sometimes tempted to do that and maybe they believe it doesn't matter. I think it does matter.

Q. Why?
A. Because so much bad feeling - and so m
Jun 19, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok, so I have to preface this review by admiting that I did my studies in Irish history so I'm bound to be a bit biased. Having said that, reading this book was like reviewing years worth of notes but compressed in an extremely enjoyable one thousand pages (ok, maybe compressed isn't the right word).

Reaching back to Celtic times, Rutherford traces the beginnings of familys that exist today, weaving his stories from generation to generation. As he moves from one family to another, his
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Edward Rutherford has proved with such novels as Russka , Sarum , London and The Forest , that he is a great historical novelist in the mould of James Michener.
In this wseeping saga of Ireland , we are taken from the eloping and flight of the striking Deirdre and her lover , Conall in 430 to the destruction of Ireland's ancient monastic heirlooms , during the Reformation , in 1537.

Rutherford traces the fortunes and interactions of several Irish families down the centuries-the O
Paul Clayton
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical novels can be simply human dramas set in historical times, or they can be human dramas woven into historical events, to bring those events to life. We can learn a great deal from the latter, and I feel like I did with Edward Rutherfurd’s The Princes of Ireland. As an American with 100 percent Irish ancestry (McLaughlin) on my mother’s side, and, probably 100 percent English, or mixed English/Irish ancestry on my father’s side (Clayton), I have often wondered about the long running and ...more
”Long ago. Long before Saint Patrick came. Before the coming of the Celtic tribes. Before the Gaelic language was spoken. At the time of Irish gods who have not even left their names.

“So little can be said with certainly; yet facts can be established. In and upon the earth, evidence of their presence remains. And, as people have done since tales were told, we may imagine.

“In those ancient times, on a certain winter’s morning, a small event occurred. This we know. It must
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This was a wonderful fictional representation of early Irish history. It begins in early pre-Christian Celtic Ireland during the time of the fierce High Kings of Tara with their Druid gods to the mid 1500's and the time of Henry the VIII. It has been described as

"A magnificent epic about love and war, family life and political intrigue in Ireland over the course of seventeen centuries. Th
May 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: b-the-good
Let me just start off with saying that you need to be awake and alert when reading this book. There are many times that the story is full of action and plot, thus making it very engaging. But there are just as equal an amount of times when it dives into ancient politics and slows to a crawl where you begin to struggle to keep your eyes open. The book is still very enjoyable though.

It does get confusing, because while there are times when Rutherfurd realizes the reader may not be fami
After posting a poll about whether I should finish the book, I thought about the pros and ons of each side. TThe advice I got was very similar to what I was thinking. The first half of it had interested and engaged me--maybe I would get interested again. I don't like to spend $15 on a book and then not finish it. At the same time, though, I'd struggled through 100 pages and was hopelessly bored. I didn't think I'd want to pick up the book again, not later, not no how.

Since I did read almost all
This is Historical Fiction. I enjoyed that aspect of this book. The info was well researched. Ireland's history was a perfect clean slate for this saga. Now, the main problem I have with sweeping sagas in general is that I tend to like some of the generations and its characters a little more than other generations in the same book. And that was true with this one.

The characters were wonderfully drawn. I liked the dialogue and the setting, but 3 stars is all I can give this.
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a second book I’ve read by this author and now I’m on track to read all of his books. For those who like historical fiction with lots of historical background intertwined with interesting characters this is a great choice. It comes with stimulating characters. “It was Cecily’s opinion that Holy Church was sacred (…) she had heard of Luther and the so-called Protestant reformers (…) if sound Catholic monarch like King Henry VIII of England wanted to burn them, she had no objection.”
May 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book just before heading out on a vacation to Ireland. This book was so good that the trip itself would not have been as fulfilling without it. Everytime a character went to a specific area, our trip took us there the very next day. I was able to have a background for almost every tour we took and every area we visited. Although many of the characters were completely fictional, their interactions with historical events and historical characters allowed me to see what it may have ...more
May 20, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Atrocious saga that never allows the reader opportunity to connect with any of the characters before leaping another century to yet another boring epoque, in which the truly adventurous, exciting bits are merely dryly narrated as a history text. If I wanted to read a text book, I would! Give me a thrilling novel, for goodness' sake!
Feb 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, fiction, historical
Very interesting take on Irish history from the viewpoint of a few fictional families through the years. I felt it was a bit slow and drawn out in some places, but the interactions and intertwining between the families we're watching through the years and how they react to what are now major historical people and events are incredibly interesting to read and imagine.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very enjoyable; a bit long though. Took more effort to complete the last 30% of the book but the first half kept my interest and sped quickly along.
Karen maslen
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the internationally bestselling author of London and Sarum -- a magnificent epic about love and war, family life and political intrigue in Ireland over the course of seventeen centuries. Like the novels of James Michener, The Princes of Ireland brilliantly interweaves engrossing fiction and well-researched fact to capture the essence of a place.

Edward Rutherfurd has introduced millions of readers to the human dramas that are the lifeblood of history. From his first bestseller, S
Bart Breen
May 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Formulaic but not bad

This is my first read of Edward Rutherford and based on several other reviews of this work, it appears that measured against the standard of his previous work, this one is perhaps not as powerful.

Not having the benefit of those previous reads, I come at this perhaps from a different point of view.

As an amateur historian and genealogist, I came to this work expecting it to give some context and progression toward a better understanding of t
All I can say after finishing this book is... wow, was that worth it.

The Princes of Ireland is a hefty book, but inside its covers is basically the author's braindump of anything and everything to do with Irish history. Through the use of generational story telling, we as readers experience how various things influenced Ireland. The story is woven together so tightly that Rutherford is able to say a name 200 pages after that particular character's part in the story has ended, and it will still
Jacquie South
Aug 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was nowhere near as good as Sarum or London, though it was still enjoyable and educational. While Sarum and London really described history so vividly through the stories of the characters, this book relied a lot more on pages and pages of pure historical description and facts, which definately got tedious at times. What was so wonderful about Sarum and London was the way he made history come to life through his characters, the way their fortunes rose and fell through the ages, and the way ...more
Nov 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History buffs
I enjoy Rutherfurd's stories of European cities because you get the history of the city with a rich saga of interesting characters. These books, I find, are very easy reads despite their tome-like appearance and weighty subject matter - complex political intrigues and long-forgotten mysteries are made clear and understandable. This first volume covers Ireland - and more specifically Dublin - from ancient times to when the English finally get a foothold (stranglehold?!) on the island. The second ...more
Kat Scelzo
A truly fantastic read spanning centuries and enveloping you into the history and shaping of Ireland.
Erin Brenner
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's got maps! Family trees! Pronunciations! An explanation of how history meets fiction! Everything you want in a saga. I was excited to start. Yet this wasn't the saga I was expecting. I was expecting a story that followed one or two families through the centuries and told one major story.

Instead the novel followed several families somewhat loosely, bringing in new families as time went on. It wasn't one major story but stories based around major events in Ireland--think a collecti
Christina (Confessions of a Book Addict)
Rutherfurd takes us through Irish history starting with when the Irish were pagans. The year was 430 AD and we meet Deirdre and her father, Fergus, who is currently the Chieftain. Things aren't simple for Deirdre though as she is in love with someone whom she isn't betrothed to. Disaster ensues and as the years pass we watch the Irish people take on various transformations with one being the start of Christianity and the arrival of St. Patrick. Then there's the Vikings arrival, the Tudor conques ...more
Sara W
I stopped reading this book in Chapter 7 because I just couldn't take it anymore - it was mostly dull stories with some interesting tidbits thrown in every once in a while.

The beginning of this novel was alright. The best parts of the book for me were the descriptions about that time period in general (the Romans leaving Britain, the Christians slowly making their way over, the druids, etc.). I never really cared for any of the characters. They all seemed pretty flat to me.

This is a
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm so glad that I decided to read the first book of the Dublin Saga as my annual summer read from Edward Rutherford, rather than one of his stand-alone novels (I have Russka and Sarum on my shelf as well), since it completely renewed my faith in his historical fiction. Last year I cheated a bit and read both London and the Forest, which, while interesting, lacked the same intruging characters and drive as Paris, but it's become clear to me that Rutherfurd's writing style has evolved and improve ...more
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It's the second book I read on Ireland. And I'm beginning to fall deeply in love with the country, its culture, and most of all its history.

I think, it's my first historical fiction and I'm still in awe on how the author magnificently stitched scenes of everyday life by ordinary people with history.

It's only, and only, sheer hard work.

The book begins with ancient Ireland where people still believe in old gods. From the first chapter, the author already made re
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A long and winding journey through the history of Ireland and various important periods in the existence of that island, told, naturally, through the perspective of different members of several different families through the ages.

In truth, I don't remember a ton about the book itself, as evidenced by the fact that I forgot it in my initial OCD completionist tendencies when I first joined Goodreads and only remembered it now, several years later, when Rutherfurd came up in conversatio
Apr 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mer by: Cori Macrae
Shelves: history, fiction
Reminded me of several books I read in the 80s that were historical and followed several families thru the generations. I found it tough to stay interested in when a new generation was started but the author provided enough information to bring me back on board. This book is so big I had to renew several times.
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
Before I started to read "The Princes of Ireland: The Dublin Saga" by Edward Rutherfurd I had two reasons to have high hopes for an excellent read. Reason #1, I had already read Rutherfurd's "New York" and found it to be a masterpiece. Reason #2, on the front cover there is a quote by the incomparable author Maeve Binchy endorsing the book. The quote reads: "A giant, sprawling, easy-to-read story told in James Michener fashion." Given these two facts I was very much hoping I was going to enjoy t ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend the book.
There are some good reviews below describing each movement in the book. I am not going there, but will tell readers not voiced in Irish history to read the Wikipedia short version of the History of Ireland. I have discerned the author's pattern of writing sagas, so the numerous characters and acts add to my reading pleasure rather than detracting from it. I learned that lesson after reading SARUM for the second time to find some order in the read. In the present book,
Thom Swennes
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-read
What constitutes an international best seller? This is a question I have often asked myself as I pick up yet another book with these words displayed boldly on its cover. One million, ten million… what is the magic number that constitutes such high praise? I don’t know but this book does. Edward Rutherfurd is the pseudonym for Francis Edward Wintle (why someone would ever hide such a great talent behind an alias I don’t know) but that he has a phenomenal ability, there is no doubt. This is the se ...more
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Reading Buddy Style: March 2015: The Princes of Ireland 1 7 Feb 17, 2015 05:39AM  
Question re Fionnuala Ui Fergusa [spoilers] 1 9 Oct 18, 2014 03:27AM  

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Francis Edward Wintle, best known under his pen name Edward Rutherfurd, was born in the cathedral city of Salisbury. Educated locally, and at the universities of Cambridge, and Stanford, California, he worked in political research, bookselling and publishing. After numerous attempts to write books and plays, he finally abandoned his career in the book trade in 1983, and returned to his childhood home to write SARUM ...more

Other books in the series

The Dublin Saga (2 books)
  • The Rebels of Ireland (The Dublin Saga, #2)
“We, the heirs of Saint Patrick, we who kept alive the Christian faith and the writings of ancient Rome when most of the world had sunk under the barbarians, we who gave the Saxons their education are to be taught a lesson in Christianity by the English?” 2 likes
“We have all been robbed of the land we have loved for a thousand years. Do you not see that, Welshman? Can you not imagine his rage? We were not even conquered. We were deceived.” 2 likes
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