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Red Branch

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  1,346 ratings  ·  47 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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Outlander by Diana GabaldonDaughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierGods of The Nowhere by James TipperDragonfly in Amber by Diana GabaldonVoyager by Diana Gabaldon
Great Celtic Fiction
34th out of 179 books — 339 voters
Outlander by Diana GabaldonThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa GregoryThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Best Historical Fiction Set in UK and Ireland
227th out of 954 books — 973 voters

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Community Reviews

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Mike (the Paladin)
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
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.
Feb 24, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
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.
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?
Vivid and well-described. The author makes the fantastical elements of the story believable.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amanda Coppedge
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.
Jen Mays
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
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.

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
Lance Cheuvront
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
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
Caroline Owens
This would normally be a three star book, but I love fantasy and this book manages to adhere to my strict rules regarding cheeziness in fantasy. No embarrassingly cutsie-wootsie romance. Also goes easy on impish wizard characters. More like real characters living in mythical times. I'll definitely read other books by this author.
aka On Raven's Wing
Sep 29, 2008 Christopher rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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.
Moriah gods........the feels..........Near the beginning of the book, they kind of tell us how the story is going to end......Even then, I wasn't prepared......I cried. This book was soooo good! This author is so amazing at painting a picture and making you connect and love/hate the characters. Bloody brilliant.
Apr 23, 2008 Linda rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Iain Cosgrove
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!
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
Js Moore
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.
Jan 01, 2010 Ellesse rated it 4 of 5 stars
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.
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.
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.
Akash Narsey
A truely great tale about the Irish Folk Hero Cuchulain, it takes all the stories regarding the legend and makes a easy to follow story about him.

There is an interesting way in how it has been written and may confuse those who are not used to Irish names.

Overall it was a good read.
One of the things that I love about Morgan Llywelyn's books is that she takes bigger than life, epic characters and tells their stories without loosing sight of the person inside the myth. The Red Branch, the story of the Hound of Ulster, is one of the best examples of that talent.
Martha Paschal
Good read on the Cuchulain mythology of Ireland. Light on character development, plotting a bit pedestrian, but I guess that goes with trying to put clothes on stories that are millennial-old.
Sep 02, 2011 Jenny rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: buy
SO GOOD!! I loved it so much. It just transported me entirely to this other world like a great book should. I'm already looking into my next book by this author, and more in this genre in general.
I read a handful of Llywelyn books as a teenager and loved them, however, I am not sure what I would think if I went back now and re-read them. Maybe they would still be awesome in my mind.
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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.
More about Morgan Llywelyn...
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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.” 3 likes
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