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Red Branch

4.19  ·  Rating Details ·  1,540 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
In a land ruled by war and love and strange enchantments, Cuchulain -- torn between gentleness and violence, haunted by the croakings of a sinister raven -- fights for his honor and his homeland and discovers too late the trap that the gods have set for him in the fatal beauty of Deirdre and the brutal jealousy of King Conor.
Mass Market Paperback, 512 pages
Published December 30th 1989 by Ivy Books (first published February 1st 1989)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mike (the Paladin)
Jan 02, 2010 Mike (the Paladin) rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
Cuchulain, another sad, brave figure (Irish history and folklore are full of them). The legend of Cuchulain has come down through time, history and folklore as tale of courage and tragedy.

Son of prophecy he will defend in single handed battle....and die young. Cuchulain victim of his own vow, killer of his own son and (at times) a berserk(er) warrior.

If you're interested look up the cattle raid of Cooley. Again, folklore and history get badly entwined here along with the mythology. But it's a gr
Megan Baxter
Jan 01, 2017 Megan Baxter rated it really liked it
The way I read has changed dramatically from when I was a teenager and child. Our house was packed with books, and I read a lot, but mostly, I reread the books we had over and over again. I didn't go after new books with an acquisitive air, adding to my repertoire only occasionally. Don't get me wrong, I read a lot. But a lot of that was rereading.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.
Dec 11, 2008 Cwn_annwn_13 rated it it was amazing
Re-telling of the tales of the mythical Irish hero Cuchulain. Historical fiction, except its myths not history being re-wrote. This book kept me captivated from beginning to end, I don't know if I've ever got through a 500 page book as fast I got through this one.
Aug 22, 2008 Joan rated it really liked it
One of the best books I've read this year and, of course, I choose to believe that it really happened! Myth, legend, romance, war, magic, and the stories of Ireland. What more could you ask from a book?
Feb 24, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Heather by: self
Oh, I loved this book! I think about it all the time to this day. I learned a lot about Irish history and about places in Ireland from this book. I gained a love for all things Irish and Celtic which has never left me. The hero of the story is fantastic.
Nov 28, 2008 Nicole rated it liked it
Vivid and well-described. The author makes the fantastical elements of the story believable.
Amanda Coppedge
Jul 19, 2011 Amanda Coppedge rated it it was amazing
Between having to return a library copy, waiting a bit to dig up a copy at the used bookstore and then misplacing it during a move, it took me a long time to read this great book. I was glad I had time to read The Tain in between--this book gave great perspective on the myth and added a more human face to it, as well as giving a good reason why The Tain read as it did.
Feb 26, 2016 Katy rated it liked it
A good story put together with pieces of many different Irish folk tales & heroes.
Sep 01, 2008 Wayne added it
I think Morgan did a great job piecing together the scrolls and story of a number of stories of cuchulainn, into a seamless tale of a tragic hero.
Chris Buza
The majority of this book gets a 5-star rating from me. The last 50 pages get a 3-star rating: read on to see what I mean. I have tried to keep this spoiler free, but there are mentions of some plot points, using as general terms as possible.

What Llywelyn does so incredibly well in this text is twofold. Firstly, she has a knack for turning a phrase that is keener than any I've encountered in recent memory. Here you won't find the ongoing, extensive, paragraphs-long passages of "literary" beauty
Malcolm Little
Apr 06, 2016 Malcolm Little rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
There’s just something about Ireland that strikes my fancy. That isolated island of green, left relatively untouched by imperialism until the late medieval age. An island of Celtic nations.

A recent trip to the emerald isle of Hibernia colored my bias toward wanting to read the history of the place. But I had no clue where to start, other than the genre of historical fiction. Goodreads fashioned recommendations, and I perused the offerings. Time and again the name Morgan Llywelyn came up, buoyed
Jen Mays
Feb 25, 2014 Jen Mays rated it really liked it
Bridging the gap between physical and magical worlds, this is the story of ancient Ireland, when the land was still known as Erin and the gods dallied with the people on a regular basis. A young boy named Setanta grows up in an isolated fort, the son of a soldier of Red Branch who spares no time for the child or his Otherworld-touched wife. Setanta yearns for his father's attention, to be taught the things a son should learn from his father. Determined to prove that he his worthy of his father's ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 17, 2016 Christie rated it did not like it
I did not finish this book. I wanted to. I wanted to love it because I have enjoyed so much the stories it is based on, and thought it would be great to read a fleshed-out version. Unfortunately there was very little flesh to be found. It was kind of like one of those bad Bible movies where they don't let anyone say anything that wasn't directly in the Bible, so no one seems like a real person. 108 pages in, I still felt like Cuchulain, Deirdre, and the rest were more vibrant in the original sto ...more
Jul 03, 2013 Methos rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Un uomo crede ciò che vuole credere

penso sia una frase che procedendo nella lettura della storia di Cuchulain, acquisisca sempre più un profondo significato. il libro mi è piaciuto davvero molto sia nella storia che nello stile della narrazione: ritmi serrati che coinvolgono il lettore facendogli domandare "e ora che succederà?"...e c'è da dire che non sono molti i libri che posso vantare una simile caratteristica! mi sono commossa per Naisi e Deirdre e ho sperato fino all'ultimo che la loro avv
Feb 08, 2017 Jaimi rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-re-read
There are no words for how much I love this book. Llywelyn makes the reader feel as if they are part of the story with the imagery.
Lance Cheuvront
Jul 30, 2012 Lance Cheuvront rated it it was amazing
This book without stretching the truth one hair's breadth, changed my life and me forever as a writer and reader. This book is what the term epic was coined for. The characters for as fantastical as they are, become so real that you feel them passing through your life as you read. You know them, feel them, mourn them and mourn along side them. It is rousing, passionate, powerful and a true hero saga in every sense of the word. Llywelyn's prose is incomperable and he Cuchulainn she gives us here ...more
Dec 31, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
The author is apparently a highly rated and successful one, and especially focused on authentic Irish historical novels. This story is set slightly before B.C., and so is a tale of long passed Irish bands with magic, kings, honor, and ancient Celtic traditions.

The story is fine - the birth of a young Irish warrior who eventually becomes a legend for his prowess. Fighting this group and that, the book winds along for 550 pages.

I began to lose interest after a climactic battle scene around 400 pag
Cris N.
I read this long ago but I recall being very impressed with it. It's a retelling of the ancient Irish legend of Cuchulain in the form of a adventurous and emotionally intense novel. You can loosely classify it as fantasy because a lot of aspects of the story are embellished or reinterpreted, but of course it still gives you the original story along with that. I also like it how Llywelyn not only is a good story-teller, but she also really cares about the legend, the ancient culture and customs, ...more
Nov 14, 2010 Sebastian rated it really liked it
The crazed bastard offspring of Shane McGowan, Gerry Adams and David Gemmel after a peyote binge. Colourful and lyrical adaptation of the famous Celtic myth/legend of the Hound of Ulster, Cuchulainn, amongst whose secret weapons is an erect penis the size of a chariot axle. Don't be put off, though, this is a thoroughly enjoyable ride based on the Tain, a revered Celtic text, embellished though it may be, but still a very informative tale of Celtic Ireland.
Aug 18, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
this was the first book i read by this author, and they are all tales of ireland's "history"... this story is of the perhaps-mythical Cuchulainn, an irish folk hero, and the Red Branch warriors... the classic folk tale "The Brown Bull of Cooley" is brought to life quite nicely, and Queen Maeve was certainly a woman to be reckoned with... i couldn't tear my eyes away... and this book led me to read almost every other by this author.
Sep 29, 2008 Christopher rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Celtic warriors.
This was a book that I was required to read about 10 years ago in an undergraduate Folklore class. I attempted to read the book several times before recently, but always managed to get sidetracked with other books so that, by the time I returned to it, I forgot all of the characters and story development. Not this time. I picked it up and thoroughly enjoyed it. The ending could have been a little better, but I won't complain. It had a raven in it. And a bunch of swords.
This is the re-telling of the legend of Cuchulain and his epic life and battles.

The book is a bit long, but it is very interesting. The characters are warriors and you can feel their strength and honor. You can feel sorrow at their mistakes. And the anger and manipulations of Maeve make her a brilliant foe.
Js Moore
Aug 10, 2011 Js Moore rated it it was amazing
I read this book back in 2003 before going to Ireland on vacation. I have since bought the UK version "On Raven's Wing" and procured a hardcover for the shelf. Llywelyn handles these ancient tales as if she was witness to Cuchulainn's life, deeds, battles, and death - as if she were the Morrigan herself. Great book.
Linda Orvis
Apr 23, 2008 Linda Orvis rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of fable and Ireland
Shelves: historicals
Red Branch is based on Ireland's mythical warrior-hero Cuchulain. Though it is well written, and gave an amazing insight to Irish folklore, I resisted the temptation to go off on a tangent. I love English literature, but decided, because of this book, not to travel to the Green Isle and immerse myself in yet another society. Llywelyn is a fantastic
Oct 11, 2012 Amber rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
More wonderful Irish legends told as only Morgan Llewellyn can tell it. Griping and engaging is this story of the King's champion known as Cuhulain. I could hardly put this one down.
Morgan Llewellyn is a very gifted writer. I highly recommend any book written by her, even if I haven't read it yet.
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]A fairly hefty (550 pages) reworking of the Cuchulain legends I think I still like Jo Walton's The Prize in the Game more, but this is a decently told tale, with due respect given to the facts of geography and the findings of arch
Jan 01, 2010 Ellesse rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All Fantasy (Celtic Lore) variety
Recommended to Ellesse by: Mr. Worthy- 9th & 10th Grade English
Ever since my 10th Grade English teacher did his book report presentation on this book I have been captivated by this legend. Morgan Llwelyn does all the work in gathering all the many various stories of Cu Cuchlainn. Fabulous book, some times X-Rated, but still one of my favorites. Took me an entire summer to read though.
Iain Cosgrove
Mar 19, 2013 Iain Cosgrove rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I Don't normally like historical fiction, but given I am an Irish resident and this is a fictional retelling off the legend of cuchulain, I couldn't resist. I have to say, it is one of the best books I have read. The action was good, and the story was authentic and true to the legends. Well worth a read if you like your historical fiction action packed!
Cody Weston
Refreshingly "original" in that the storytelling and mythology covered here haven't been done to death in popular culture. The pacing is odd at times but the overall story is quite compelling and the characters are well done. It feels very ambitious in scope, spanning years and years without really losing its momentum.
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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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“As the sun is to the earth, so Honour is to a man. without it, he will not flourish. All else may fail you, but honour is the treasure no one can take from you, the shield no one can penetrate unless you let them. Honour is beautiful and clean. Honour is sacred.” 5 likes
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