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Celtic Myths and Legends

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,423 ratings  ·  90 reviews
This is an enchantingly told collection of the stirring sagas of gods and goddesses, fabulous beasts, strange creatures, and such heroes as Cuchulain, Fingal, and King Arthur from the ancient Celtic world. Included are popular myths and legends from all six Celtic cultures of Western Europe-Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish, and Breton. Here for the modern reader are the ...more
Paperback, 612 pages
Published January 27th 2003 by Running Press Adult (first published March 25th 1999)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  2,423 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Jan 24, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was really excited and interest to read this book...but was greatly disappointed.The collection ofbthese tales, and the information provided within are so outdated, over done, and incohesive it begs the question why bother to write it...or read it. The introduction is so paints the same bland picture of a vast ancient culture, with the exact same reprinted information since the 70s...which has long evolved and shifted as new archaeological and anthropological finds come to light ...more
Juliette Cross
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Love this collection. I used many of this stories when I taught Celtic Mythology to high school students. These kind of fairytales are my favorite.
I’ve always loved a bit of mythology but have until now always been drawn to the Greek and the Norse, so it was high time I read a little about the myths that were formed in my own country. Being both mammoth and full of re-tellings of Celtic myths and legends, this one lived up to its title’s promise.

Split into sections covering the different Celtic regions – Ireland, Manx, Scottish, Welsh, Cornish and Brittany – each came with a preface explaining the historical context in which these tales sh
Mary Yarde
Jan 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully composed, this book brought to life the Myths and Legends of the Celts. There are many books out there that deal with Celtic myths, and I have read a lot of them, but this one is something special. A real pleasure to read, and one I will be coming back to it time and again. My life is richer after reading this book. I Highly Recommend.
Jun 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Celtic Myths by Peter Ellis is a fascinating read for two main reasons. One, it introduces us to a less known but immensely rich folklore or mythology of the Celts. Second, he writes the book well and gives informative prefaces for us to better understand the stories that we read.

The book is full of short stories about the gods and monsters of he Celtic Lore. For people who are unfamiliar with the Celts and their mythology this book is a wonderful source of information. The author has divided th
Jul 27, 2011 added it
This was a great introduction to Celtic folklore and legends. I had hoped to learn more about gods and goddesses, and in that, I was disappointed. The introduction—a long, dry, heavily researched analysis of the evolution of Celtic language and stories—took me a while to trudge through, but it was absolutely fascinating. I didn’t enjoy the Irish stories nearly as much as the Welsh and Scottish stories. It was especially interesting to see the vastly different portrayals of women in each culture. ...more
This is my type of book! I love the folklore that the Celts bring to the table. You actually get into the stories. The book reminded me of "The Mabinogion." If you're into folklore, then you'll love this. If you're a writer, then you'll love this because you'll get loads of ideas. It's a good bedside book.
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book really on the collection of myths and legends of Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Breton celts. A very enjoyable book and I would be very interested in reading more by Peter Berresford Ellis.
May 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
"I would have liked liked your poem if you hadn't mentioned my magical pigskin!"
Nice read with entertaining stories. I loved the introduction on the development of language and Celtic culture. I also really enjoyed the preface to each chapter which detailed the particular culture and it's own quirks and history. I also enjoyed reading lesser known tails, being Irish I am familiar with the Irish tales but not those from Brittany or the Isle of Man.

Only negative was that the stories were repetitive but that is the nature of the stories themselves, rather than the fault of the
J.M. Briggs
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mythology
This is an excellent resource of Celtic Mythology! It can be a bit much to read in content and the spacing is really tight all through the book. My eyes had some trouble keeping track of where I was due to this design choice, but the short stories were well chosen and written. This includes a huge range of stories with a lot of important Celtic characters. A very good place to start or return to for an overview of important Celtic elements.
Joshua Spotts
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent and well researched collection of re-told Celtic myths. This is a perfect read for someone who is interested in the Celtic legends but does not have time to sit down and do their research. Ellis is a top authority in Celtic legend so you can be sure these stories are authentic. The book is divided into each story as its own chapter. The stories have little or no connection with each other and therefore are easy to read and enjoy individually.
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a collection of stories from the six Celtic language traditions; Irish, Scottish, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and Breton. They vary quite a bit in scope. Some are epic tales of ancient heroes, some are much more classic folk and fairy tales in which a humble (or humble-appearing) hero bests an evil wizard by following the instructions of random talking animals they come across.

(If I have learned anything from folktales it is that if a talking animal gives you advice, you should probably take it
Jeremy Rios
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Mostly pleasurable to read, if a bit repetitive by the end. Some of Beresford's writing habits become less endearing as the book progresses (and it is quite long). Also, almost all the stories he has selected blend together by the end--I wouldn't be able to tell you the differences between them if I tried. Still, as bedtime reading it was adequate and not without enjoyment.
Eustacia Tan
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
I found this book at the annual Popular Bookfest, where it was being sold at a 73% discount! Since I love fairytales and myths, I had to pick up this book (I was actually pretty good at the fair and only bought two books – the other being How Not to be a Twit, a collection of quotes by Roald Dahl).

This book was so interesting because I haven’t heard of most of these legends! It starts of with an introduction that talks about the history of the Celts and their language. Next, we move into the leg
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis is an absolutely captivating read, rich with the fables or mythology of the Celts. Peter Berresford Ellis writes in a detailed and informative way from beginning to end. It's a more tell, don't show type of book and that bored me at times but it gives exactly what I had expected of from the synopsis and title of the book.

I admit to finding it slow through the introduction, and thought a lot of it was extra and unnecessary, even though I really l
Mathew Vondersaar
Jan 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: legends
Iconic is the word I want to use to describe these tales; to which I think that would be a half correct description. There are roots of the tales here that can be seen in both modern literature and other legends of vastly different time periods, and there's something inspiring about that. That there is a tone of familiarity between the tales here and the ones I've become accustomed to.

This leads to major "issue" I have, being that a fair number of the tales have similar plot/structure that you
Jan 02, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
Huzzah! It is done!

That was interminable. It took me forever to read.

I've been an addict of Celtic mythology since I first picked up Stephen R. Lawhead's Pendragon cycle and Paradise War series. I've read The Mabinogion, several books of myths published in the 1800s, and read a three volume set of archaeological and literary analysis of whether or not Merlin truly existed...none of them were as boring as this was.

I have no idea how someone can take something as interesting as the stories of Nud
Mar 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
The Celtic myths has peeked my interest for a long time, as it is an ancient people with hundreds of stories. So when I give it such a low rating one would assume that I hated the myths portrayed. That's not true. I hated the execution.

Peter Berresford Ellis obviously has a lot of love and respect for the mythology, as well as significant knowledge. The problem stems form the opposite of what academics usually do when writing a book. Usually, academics don't take time to explain what they assum
Nicki Markus
Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends is a wonderful, varied collection. I particularly appreciate how it includes works from all Celtic cultures, as so many books I see tend to focus on Ireland, Wales and Scotland. The choice of stories is good, with plenty of diversity to hold interest, and all in all it was an enjoyable read. The nature of the book also means you don't have to sit and read through the whole things at once. You can dip in and out, reading a different tale each day. Ther ...more
Emilia Bennett
Delving into Celtic mythology, its really hard to find good books on the subject that tell the stories in such a way that isn't one of an academic text, or really heavily written Beowulf style prose. Peter Berresford Ellis' book is an incredibly welcoming and helpful introduction to some of the most important folkloric tales of the Celts, written in such a way that it is easy to read and accessible to all. I would 100% recommend it for anyone who wants to begin research into Celtic mythology as ...more
Jonathan Spencer
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: celtic, mythology
Ellis provides a very approachable and enjoyable survey of stories and legends from various Celtic cultures. His introductions to the book and the different sections are fascinating and educational. Reading this book was like taking a mini college course from a fun professor who communicates his enthusiasm for the material. Do not be put off by the odd names and words used; Ellis defines them when they are important, and you get used to them pretty quickly.
Ryan Pidhayny
May 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This book provided an interesting survey of folktales from the different Celtic peoples but I was disappointed that, outside of a brief introduction, it lacked any real description of the Celtic deities and the core concepts of Celtic mythology as a whole. I would recommend this book if you want to read a wide variety of different Celtic folktales. If you want an introduction to or overview of Celtic mythology, I suggest looking elsewhere.
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was really fun for me to read. I picked it up at the library on a whim. These stories are really fun and interesting.

There was only one section that didn't thrill me. That was the part on Wales. Those stories were not as well thought out. I don't why. They almost seemed random.

Every other section had lessons or had a theme that made sense. The Wales section just seemed to have a bunch of ideas thrown together.

Still, a really great collection!
Dana Lu
I really liked this book. The book it self is well written and organized by regions. Some of the legends we already know but most of them I never heard about. The author also help us find other books that might be useful for Celtic knowledge and explains how he found the stories in these book and which ones he decided to take. A good compilation of Celtic myths that make the reader desire to learn more about the subject and continue to investigate by themselves.
Advice I garnered from this text: "Do exactly what the random probably-fae person says, except if they're evil, in which case you should do exactly the opposite. There is no way to tell the difference. Also, lying is punishable, except when you should definitely lie. Being nice to people is generally a good bet, though."

The tales are written in a very "tell, don't show" kind of way, which is weirdly boring at times.
Matt Bates
Jun 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
The stories are entertaining and engaging, but the tales from some cultures are missing context that would be aided quite a bit by having a detailed glossary in the back (for example, explaining the different names of the pantheon across different Celtic cultures). Also, a pronunciation guide for all of the cultures would’ve been helpful (especially for Cornwall and Brittany).
Al Lock
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that takes time to read, as it contains a huge number of Celtic tales of myth and legend, divided into categories:
Isle of Man

The myths are interesting and of a variety of ages. Well worth the read for those interested in the Celtic peoples.
Nicholas Bobbitt
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it's not the greatest collection of myths I've seen, I certainly really liked them.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some lovely stories, some weird ones, all beautifully told complete with historical background
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Peter Berresford Ellis (born 10 March 1943) is a historian, literary biographer, and novelist who has published over 90 books to date either under his own name or his pseudonyms Peter Tremayne and Peter MacAlan. He has also published 95 short stories. His non-fiction books, articles and academic papers have made him acknowledged as an authority on Celtic history and culture. Under Peter Tremayne, ...more