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Lion of Ireland

(Brian Boru #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  3,819 ratings  ·  230 reviews
Morgan Llywelyn's New York Times bestselling historical classic of the greatest Irish king

King. Warrior. Lover.

Brian Boru was stronger, braver, and wiser than all other men--the greatest king Ireland has ever known. Out of the mists of the country's most violent age, he merged to lead his people to the peak of their golden era.

Set against the barbaric splendor of the tenth
Paperback, 448 pages
Published March 6th 2002 by Forge (first published January 1st 1980)
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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MINI REVIEW This is a tale of history and legends as it focuses upon the origins of Brian Boru, the Charlemagne of Ireland who unified most of the Emerald Isle against the Norsemen and more importantly the bickering of petty Irish lords. It's on the slow side at first as we focus on Boru's early years but stick with it and it will pick up. There's a great deal of focus on the political intrigues, the bigger than life presence of Brian Boru and Boru's inner thoughts. The writing is lyrical and t ...more
Elia Princess of Starfall
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one I Iike or respect
Recommended to Elia Princess of Starfall by: my Damn Library

You know shit just got bad when an arrogant self centred and despicable prat like Gaston is correct.


Oh Bloody hell where to start? I haven't been this disappointed in a novel since last year with the Red Tent and finished that one! Heck 'Lion of Ireland' has the dubious honour of being my first DNF of 2015. IMHO a book that fails so badly on several accounts-characterisation, historical accuracy, writing style, treatment of female characters, etcetera....

Lion of Ireland is the story of
I read this one when it was first published in 1981, when I was in the first flush of exploring my Irish roots and Irish history in the whole. I remember loving it. I would have given it at least 4, if not 5 stars then.
I am older and wiser. I know more of the truth about ancient Irish history. I know how much Morgan Llywelyn made up out of whole cloth. Some of it fits with what might have happened, but a lot if it just doesn't match up with what we know now. Llywelyn wrote a nice fairy tale, bu
Feb 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Saoirseobx by: An Irish friend
Truly, the best book I have ever read. I keep going back to it over and over again and Brian Boru has become a hero of mine. In a time when Vikings were invading Ireland, tribes were warring and life was hard, it was highly improbable that a 12th born son would ever become King of Ireland. And yet Brian did the impossible - united the whole of Ireland for the only time in history. His vision, his determination and his passion for his country and his people were incredible.

And yet, Brian was alon
Sarah Mac
DNF, circa pg 150. Sorry, but I'm bored with the episodic style & Brian's one-note Gary Stu routine. It's a shame; there are some well-written passages, but there's no depth to most of the characters & the time gaps are really annoying. The first couple chapters were intriguing, but since then it's been an onslaught of Things Are Doing Things. I feel like I've been slogging through a mire of words without making any progress.

Bye-bye. I got no interest in forcing myself through another 400 pgs.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Most people don't realize that the legend of King Arthur has a real life counterpart in Brian Boru, "the Emperor of all Ireland" at the beginning of the 11th century. This is a fictional account of his life based on what's known of him. Well researched and a compelling read, full of action and romance. ...more
Joseph Finley
Dec 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
If you are interested in one of the most fascinating figures in Irish history, or just want another good book about the Viking Age, I highly recommend Lion of Ireland.

The novel tells the story of Brian Boru, perhaps the greatest Irish king who ever lived. He ruled at the end of the Tenth Century, during a time when Norse and Danish Vikings controlled large portions of Ireland, including the Viking towns of Limerick and Dublin. Rich with natural resources and monasteries laden with silver, Irelan
3.0 stars. I liked this book but really thought I was going to love it. While well written and having a great larger-than-life main character, I never really connected with the story like I thought I would. This is one I may try to approach again sometime down the road and see if my opinion changes.
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is straight-up indulgent Irish Historical porn and I loved every minute of it. I feel spend and exhausted; my emotions were tossed back and forth, every which way as I followed Brian from early childhood to the end of the book. I just want to sit and bask in the glory of it all - how it made me feel. I want to cry that it's over. And when I recover, I know I'm going to want more.

If you're like me, you've at some point lost your voice after a night of drinking and yelling about the evils of
Sep 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
You know you're in for a tiresome piece of biographical fiction when adults are taken aback by the power inherent in a child who defies them. ...more
Dawn Livingston
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
My actual rating is more like 2 1/2 stars. I enjoyed reading it mostly.

The writing was excellent, the author does have a way with words. However, it was a bit long and around page 400 I started to skim. I got tired of reading about battles, strategies, tired of trying to keep track of who was friend or foe to who and why.

Recommended to those interested in history and Irish history in particular, battles, strategy.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is written really well if you're really into medieval history... it reminded me of an Irish "Game Of Thrones" but much more pulp. It was too long, that was my biggest problem, and I like long books if they can hold my interest, but I got tired of it by the time Gormlaith became a major character. It was just hard to care anymore. However it was interesting and did a good job of telling a multigenerational story with a lot of viewpoints across a characters' entire life. I like how it ha ...more
For all those I initially sent out recommendations to, disregard. Am on the last knockings and for Ireland would say that Rutherfurd's offerings are far, far superior. This was more a young adult thing.


St Patrick's Day 2012


Opening: The little boy sat on the crown of a rocky hill, his thin arms hugging his scabby knees. He tilted his head and gazed up into the immense vault of the sky, feeling wonderfully alone.
Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 02, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed this book somewhat more than I have some of Ms. Llywelyn's other works. She managed to "hue" slightly closer to the historical bone in this one than in some others and still deliver a good fantasy adventure.

Brian Boru is a favorite "character" of mine. Or historical figure? To be honest yes, but I hesitate to go that route as he's one of the people in history who's myth is so closely entwined with his history that we need to be very careful. It's much like the line from The Man Who Sho
Teri Heyer
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves historical fiction.
Recommended to Teri by: Amazon/Kindle
I spent the last several days reading Morgan Llywelyn's 'Lion of Ireland.' I couldn't put it down and so I did little else than read. This is the saga of Brian Boru and his struggle/fight to unite all of Ireland under one king. Would that I could give this book more than 5-Stars. If you love history told by a great storyteller, then this is a must read. ...more
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Would of been 5 stars if not for the repeated sex scenes.
Kathryn Langlois
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really beautiful tale about Brian Boru, Emperor of the Irish. I had never heard of this larger than life King, but Llywelyn shows how a smart leader can become a legend. There were some elements of the story that got old (some of the relationships)- but I was impressed with how readable the strategic battle plans were. I don't do well with gratuitous violence, so Llywelyn hit a perfect balance of capturing the bloodthirstiness of Irish vs Norse warfare, without going overboard on bloody detail ...more
Bart Breen
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Outstanding Historical Fiction!

Morgan Llywelyn has done a fantastic job in this novel. She does outstanding research and builds a framework that will have you walk away from this book having a very good understanding of the history of Ireland in terms of its small kingdoms constantly warring with each other to where outside invaders can waltz in and mop up. The greatest king who accomplished what no other could was Brian Boru, Ard Ri (High King) and unfortunately his descendents proved incapable
Fiona Hurley
Feb 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Brian Boru was a real historical character who lived in 10th century Ireland. As the best historical novelists do, Llwellyn has taken the facts we know about him and breathed them to life. And how! From the boy dreaming on the hill, to the young man taking power, to the old man preparing for his final battle, this is a full-blooded epic with three-dimensional characters. There is conflict on the battlefield and off it, a powerful momentum that kept me turning the pages breathlessly, all written ...more
Feb 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Being part Irish and having a son named Brian, I found a lot to like in this book. I learned quite a bit about Irish history, which is one of the things I love to find in my literary choices. The author is well known for her research and knowledge of Irish history, and it shows. I confess to skipping through some of the battle scenes and the formal court hooha, but for the most part, this book held my interest and kept me reading too late at night.

I loved the main character, Brian Bóruma mac Cen
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this historical fiction novel that delves into 950-1050 AD Irish history and the uniting of the little fiefdom's into one country by Brian Boru. The book starts off kind of slow as the author tries to paint a picture of the life of the high nobility of that time period. When she begins to describe the Viking invasions, the book becomes hard to put down.

The historical record is quite sketchy on this time period, but Llywelyn does a great job of bringing this era to life. The char
Colin Ryan
Hmmm,a great story which was paced well and covered a lot of ground, which appeared to be well researched. However although Lywelyn's develops a solid structure to tell an epic story, she writes some ferociously clunky dialogue. Clients engage constantly in long winded exposition laced conversation, that are as a subtle as an instruction manual. The characters are broad 2 dimensional cliches acting as lifeless avatars for to move the plot rather than living breathing individuals. The only thing ...more
Chelsea Kearns
Jul 16, 2008 rated it liked it
My intro to Morgan Llywelyn was with this book, and I've learned a lot about Celtic history as I've continued to read her books. This is a lesser known historical look at Ireland, focused on the one-time unifying king, Brian Boru. Many of her other books also reference him, so it's helpful to have this one as background before moving onto some of her others. Also note she has an interesting series about the N. Ireland/Ireland issues starting in the early 1900's, that are really interesting. ...more
[Name Redacted]
Oct 12, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*sigh* Llywelyn could have been a great writer, bringing Irish myth and history to the masses. Instead she decided to squander her talent writing weird combinations of porn and historical romances. This one was especially bad as it follows the male protagonist through a series of sexual conquests and a rape. I stopped reading at the rape and chucked the book. This was the last Morgan Llywelyn book I ever read and I don't regret that choice. ...more
David Teachout
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Brilliant, the characters leap from the pages and instill themselves in your soul with all the passion and power of the Irish people. This is history and myth, truth and fiction, brought together for entertainment and to tell a message. The story of Brian Boru is one of anyone desiring with a fervency of the spirit to build a place of joy and prosperity, knowing at times that to do so begins with pain and battle. This is a story of humanity and in it is found a great deal to love and hold.
Forgotten Realms Queen
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
Fascinating account of Brian Borou, historically speaking the first king of Ireland who united the country, and divided it into North and South.

It is quite dull at times because it is textbook historical but for the most part is well paced and well written to keeping your interest. It makes me want to research more on the characters we're introduced to because they're so believable.
May 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Lion of Ireland is one of my favorite works for fiction. This is my second time through this book. Morgan Llewelyn is one of Ireland's treasures with regard to Irish historical fiction. She brings to life the history of it's people and the land on which they lived and struggled to make their own. ...more
Alan Bach
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
Abandoned at approximately page 60. Lion of Ireland reads like a power fantasy, with a weird mixture of the traditional larger than life and macro view of myths, with the author's style of depicting Brian's life with a sense of homeliness and micro scale. The thing is, honestly many myths are very basic (if sometimes universal) stories filled with plot holes. What makes myths so powerful to me though is the combination that 1. You can see indications of the culture the myth came from through the ...more
Malcolm Little
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Taking on the life story of a mythic hero persona is no easy task. It is made easier, however, when the historicity of the details is scant. Such is the case with Brian Boru, an Irish legend of tall tales and supposedly taller accomplishments. I say ‘supposedly’ because as far as I can see, there’s still great debate among Celtic historians as to whether Boru united all of the island of Erin or failed on the last few acres. The debates of the character of Boru himself will never cease, as histor ...more
John Grazide
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on a recommendation from a friend. It is not the type of story I would normally seek out. But once I got past the initial character name confusion, the story became really good. It reminded me of Braveheart (but obviously not Scotland) but with so much more scope. This book was epic. I chronicled the life of Brian Boru, from early childhood all the way through his life. All his struggles to unify Ireland, and the battles that came with it. Both personally and on the battlefield. Ther ...more
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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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Brian Boru (2 books)
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