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Gods and Fighting Men

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  400 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
From the battles of Nuada, king of the Tuatha de Danaan, to the arrival of St. Patrick, Lady Gregory presents the great tales of Ireland, telling them faithfully with the voice of the Irish countryside -- in "the manner of the thatched houses." In the woods of Slieve Bladhma a boy was reared in secrecy, and taught the skills of the woods and the court. In his travels he me ...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published December 14th 2007 by Aegypan (first published 1902)
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This book is responsible for a lot of things: For me becoming a professional storyteller, for me falling in love with Irish legends, and for me having an English vocabulary that is mostly full of terms for Iron Age weaponry and strangely spelled Gaelic names. There is really no other way to write a review of this book - it is one of the classics that has earned a place for itself on the shelf of every person that goes anywhere near Irish lore and mythology.
It's always weird to read a book that's essentially a twice-over translation. First the original author translated the myths to English, and that was over a hundred years ago... and then the Polish translator, while trying to keep the archaic and mythical sound of the original, translated it into Polish... it's not always an easy read.

However, it does give a good glimpse into what the dark ages Irish could've valued and what stories spoke to them the most. While it was a bit of a struggle to get
Barnaby Thieme
"Gods and Fighting Men" represents Lady Gregory's effort to gather the scattered, disparate tales of the Mythological and Finnian cycles of early Irish lore, and to present them in a more or less coherent format, much as she did with with Ulster cycle in her "Cuchulain of Muirthemne". Unlike that earlier work, however, many of the stories included herein stand on their own, and this book therefore gives the impression of a miscellany rather than an epic.

Gregory's priorities, as is well known, h
Colleen Lynch
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fantastic mythology. I love ireland and anything irish and despite that, I would have love this book anyway because this type of mythology has amazing aspects and elements I haven't read before. There's something about the irish style of storytelling and stories that have been passed down, something in the history of that place I think should appeal to most readers. There's something fantastical and fantastic about this book and I recommend it to everyone.
A. Mary
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-myth
Gregory's versions of the myths are written with the music that can be missing from more recent tellings, rather in the same way that the Good News Bible loses the lyricism of the King James. Her arrangements are more demur than Kinsella's, but this is part of their charm.
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow-ee! This thing is HUGE.

Or I'm slow. Hard to say when you're on kindle.

Maybe a bit of both. Because while this is a very comprehensive recounting of Irish mythology (minus the Ulster cycle, minus a few other stories such as Cath Gabhra), Gregory presents it all very faithfully and as such, it occasionally feels a little dry when consuming a lot of it. The decision to write everything with Gaelic grammar is welcome, but again at times taxing.

Still a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to del
Joseph Jaquinta
This books was instrumental in understanding the popular culture view of ancient Irish legends. People in Ireland are more likely to have ready Lady Gregory's version than more scholarly ones.
I did get the strong impression reading these that this was something quite different from normal Western Culture fairy tales. Mostly because the tales did not follow an expected "normal" narrative path, and that "fairly tale logic" did not apply.
For example, one long tale about the "Hard Servant", who tric
Loved it. I loved finally reading so many of the Irish myths of which I've heard bits and bobs condensed into one volume. Lady Gregory obviously took great care to keep the feeling, the sense, of the stories even as she translated them from the Irish language. Her use of Hiberno-English--or "Kiltarnese," as she called it--made it possible to imagine people sitting by fires, telling and re-telling these stories for thousands of years. The family histories and specific locations that were recounte ...more
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
though I have read most of the tales dozens of times over, I had always wanted to read this collection. I was excited to start, but after weeks of scattered reading I finally had to give it up. This is such a disorganized rendering of these tales I just couldn't follow it - and that's saying a lot for someone who *already knows these tales*. I don't know if it was the fact that I was reading it via ereader - as i've found it is much, much harder for me to follow, and retain via an ereader than ...more
This set of Irish tales reminded me of Grimm's Fairy Tales. Barely organized; mostly miscellaneous. Several seemed to cover the same ground over and over to feel repetitive.

Some things seemed out of place like mentions of God or the Greeks. Pretty sure these are stories about events prior to Christianity came to Ireland. And the Greek presence seems even less likely.

Apparently the favorite animal to change someone into or hunt are pigs. They show up in several stories. Others like deer or hound
Eoin Coleman
Sep 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is still my go to book for research on the Mythological Cycles.
While it doesn't have EVERY story, it has so many more than I've found in any other compilation.

Her notes at the end of each book makes it so easy to follow on for more research if you are not satisfied with what she's compiled.

And for anyone who is interested, the final sequences with Oisín and St. Patrick are absolutely brilliant. It summarizes how a lot of people felt about the stories being altered by the Church and I would
David Corbett
Apr 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Blame my fascination with this mythology on Game of Thrones. I downloaded this book off the Internet and have been having a grand old time just working through it slowly. The stories, which range from the account of how the Tuatha de Danaan came to inhabit Ireland to the classic tales of Finn McCumhal and the Fianna, are rowdy, blustering, bawdy, mysterious, tragic accounts of how the old magic served and betrayed the fabled folk who once inhabited the Emerald Isle. Utterly addictive.
May 09, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, fantasy
I enjoyed this book, though the tale of Cuchulain is more interesting. This story shows you the mythological history of Ireland, starting with the arrival of the gods and ending with the return of the last of the Fianna to a christian Ireland.
Feb 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With some difficulty, I made it through this good foundation on Irish Myth. Being of Irish descent, it seemed a shame to me that I knew little about the mythology of my ancestors. Now, I feel a little better versed, although I feel the book might be due a second read sometime.
Alexandra Howells
Nov 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
A delightful translation of the Ancient Irish myths.
Jan 13, 2014 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research-faeries
Available legally and free at Project Gutenberg:
Dustin Davis
Jan 30, 2011 marked it as to-read
Only a few pages in, but I love her beautiful use of language.
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: form-non-fiction
Heavy going but beautiful.
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, ireland
LE livre par lequel je suis entré dans les légendes irlandaises, réécrites par nulle autre que Lady Gregory elle-même. Un classique.
The stories themselves were very enjoyable.
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Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (15 March 1852 – 22 May 1932), born Isabella Augusta Persse. She was an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With William Butler Yeats and others, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. Lady Gregory produced a number of books retelling stories taken from Irish mythology.
More about Lady Augusta Gregory...

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“And my desire,' he said, 'is a desire that is as long as a year; but it is love given to an echo, the spending of grief on a wave, a lonely fight with a shadow, that is what my love and my desire have been to me.” 26 likes
“What is whiter than snow?' he said. 'The truth,' said Grania.

'What is the best colour?' said Finn. 'The colour of childhood,' said she.

'What is hotter than fire?' 'The face of a hospitable man when he sees a stranger coming in, and the house empty.'

'What has a taste more bitter than poison?' 'The reproach of an enemy.'

'What is best for a champion?' 'His doings to be high, and his pride to be low.'

'What is the best of jewels?' 'A knife.'

'What is sharper than a sword?' 'The wit of a woman between two men.'

'What is quicker than the wind?' said Finn then. 'A woman’s mind,' said Grania. And indeed she was telling no lie when she said that.”
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