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(Druids #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,988 ratings  ·  151 reviews
“Mine was the vast dark sky and the spaces between the stars that called out to me; mine was the promise of magic.”

So spoke the young Celt Ainvar, centuries before the enchanted age of Arthur and Merlin. An orphan taken in by the chief druid of the Carnutes in Gaul, Ainvar possessed talents that would lead him to master the druid mysteries of thought, healing, magic, and b
Paperback, 480 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Random House Publishing Group (first published 1990)
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Debbie Zapata
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saturdaymx
Ainvar is a young Celt of the tribe of the Carnutes. He has always been fascinated by the druids of his clan, those wise men who know earth magic and are responsible for so many of the important moments of life for the Celts in Free Gaul. One night he slips away to watch a ceremony in which the druids hope to end the harsh winter, which has been dragging on longer than normal. What Ainvar does not know is that his grandmother, his only living relative, is to play an important part in this ceremo ...more
Adam Calhoun
Sep 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Walking through a used bookstore, I noticed the name Morgan Llywelyn on a $1 book; I knew the name, and saw on goodreads that it had gotten roughly 4 stars, so I thought I'd pick it up and add it to my Roman-themed reading list. A semi-historical fiction novel about the Gauls in the time of Julius Caesar, Druids tells the story of Vercingetorix's friends Ainvar, the Chief Druid at the time.

Ainvar is a total asshole. And I don't just mean that in a contemporary morality kind of way; he is repeate
Adam Farooqui
Jun 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy fans, political analysts, history bugs
First, a masterful story, told by a masterful storyteller. I found it fascinating that the author was able to remain true to history, and left the story with a sad ending. However, she told the story well enough that I did not feel sad at the end, but triumphant. A recurring motif in the book was that death is not the end (a tenet of Druid belief).

A very enchanting story of spiritual Gauls. Wonderful incorporation of real Celtic myths, and real history. Caesar invades Gaul in the book, as he doe
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This story is one of my all-time favorites that weaves history, magic, and culture with a breathtakingly inspired style of storytelling. Everywhere I travel to that has a bookstore I search for this book and currently own 3 copies of this gem.
Sep 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On a whim, I bought this book at the Goodwill Store, seeing the author's name and knowing her reputation. I was quite pleased with my purchase and I really enjoyed this story. I was impressed how Ms. Llywelyn took what scant information there is on the Druids, added her own literary license, and combined them into a plausible recreation of Druidic practices and beliefs.

The Chief Druid of the Carnutes in Gaul recognizes that a young orphan boy, Ainvar, has a druidic gift within him and wants to
Chad Brown
Nov 21, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books by Morgan Llywelyn, especially because it presents the untold perspective of the Gauls facing the invasion of Caesar. Llewelyn does a superb job of combining historical fact into the story without making it a dry read, which is proof why she is one of the master's of Celtic fiction. She also does an excellent job of showing the human sides of the larger than life characters Ainvar and Vercingetorix, who share a spiritual friendship often characterized by conflict ...more
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This book is fabulous. It chronicles the ending of the height of the Druids as Ceasar brings into Gaul the ways of the Romans and their Christian religion. This is the movie I would make if I had the money. (and talent)
Mar 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
According to the great Wiki: "A druid was a member of the priestly class in Britain, Ireland, and Gaul, and possibly other parts of Celtic western Europe, during the Iron Age. Very little is currently known about the ancient druids because they left no written accounts about themselves, and the only evidence of them is a few descriptions left by Greek and Roman authors, and stories created by later medieval Irish writers. While archaeological evidence has been uncovered pertaining to the religio ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Lots of people..
The rituals that made me a little squeamish just because it's me aside, I adored this book. Listening to the main character (a druid) talk about nature and the earth and the connectedness of it all was just what I needed. I had been missing that. You don't hear alot of natural balance talk in this town.

I had this in the back of my mind as one to read for a bit and I'm glad I finally took the plunge and read it. I know only bits and pieces of druid lore (mostly from movies and other books) but I
Jul 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
The first of the Llywelyn books I read, mainly because of my interest in Druidry and those bits-and-pieces of history that get brushed aside in the interest of providing an "overview" of "World" history, this is an interestingly fictionalized account of what it "may have been like back then."

It certainly opened my eyes as to the increasingly inaccurate views of modern Druidry that have sprung up since the 1940's, especially during the hippie movement of the 1960 when "rebellion" was the norm and
Nicole Acheson
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved reading this was really well researched by the author concerning the role Druids played in the Celtic Religion and the beliefs of the Celtic people in pre-Christian Europe. The book takes place in Europe during the Gallic wars in Gaul. In case anyone does not know where Gaul is..Gaul is modern day France. Although this book is part of the historical fiction genre some characters were real people. The young Celtic warrior Vercingetorix and Julius Caesar were real case ...more
Sarah Haman
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This was a fascinating representation of the druids in France during the time that Caesar took control of almost all the world. It talks a lot about the rituals, sacrifices and the daily life of each type of druid. It also covers how different the Romans were and the differences between the tribes and the Romans.
I enjoyed most of the book, but got a bit bogged down in all the battles. I wanted more from a woman about the woman's perspective on this time. The Celtic women were strong and could b
Aug 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I love this book so much. It's about a young boy born to be a druid and so Menua, chief druids sees to it he gets the education he needs. When he grows he becomes the chief druid and does everything in his power to keep his people safe against the Romans, who have already begun the invasion in Britain.
It's a wonderful book about druids, just what I was hoping for, and probably the best celt an druid book I've ever read.
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a solid four-star book until the final 20% or so. Llywelyn has remarkable talent for blending deep, heartfelt personal relationships with accounts of historical, tactical, often brutal battle scenes. The result leaves any reader with a soul emotionally wrecked. I now remember why I waited so long between her books. I will need serious recovery time before I move on to the sequel. Well done, Morgan Llywelyn. Well done.
Apr 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-merlin-books
excellent. i enjoyed the history throughout. thought provoking. one that will stick with me and be re-read.
Bill Stevens
May 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book! The interplay between the two main characters is what TRULY makes the storyline. A MUST READ for any medieval history or alternative religion buff.
Michelle Conner
This is my favorite of Morgan Llywelyn's books...and one of her non Irish books. Here's a review from Publisher's Weekly:

Publishers Weekly
Caesar's Gallic Wars are recounted from the viewpoint of the losers in this highly readable evocation of the culture of the European Celts. Ainvar of the Carnutes, a young orphan druid-in-training, receives instruction for the ``manmaking'' rituals with prince Vercingetorix of the Arverni, forging a bond that will later unite them in an effort to free Celtic
Gabriel M. Bell
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-casual
Well, my first book of 50 for the year. The first two months were eaten by other affairs so now I get to average 5 a month for 10 months.

Anyway, Druids was my first Morgan Llywelyn book ever, and he love of the Gauls comes through in the fiction. However, it is not as bad as I expected, and she does not blanch as presenting darker aspects of her vision of the Gallic peoples, underlying a general human shallowness and consumerism that I am certain is informed by her experiences of humanity.

Most i
Victor Bruneski
Oct 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many books about Ancient Rome, and a lot of those are about Caesar, but not many are about her enemies. This book is from the view point of one, the Gauls, who Casar made his name off of when he conquered them.

The Celts didn't leave a written history, so there is not much known about them except from sources outside like the Greeks and Caesar himself (although a lot he said might have been propaganda). There is even less known about the Druids.

The story is told from one such druid, nam
Lori Whitwam
Jan 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historic-fiction
After reading some of the reviews of this book, I was prepared to give it five stars. I gave it four, but might have actually given it 3.75 if we had the option of decimals.
I did like it, quite a bit. Being a Pagan soul, I have a strong affinity for the Druids, but truthfully didn't know all that much about them. The history and Druidic practices were incredibly rich, and the characters were believable and likable. The glimpse into the world of the Ancient Celts, in what is now France, was wonde
This book's protagonist was pretty unbearable. I kept reading it for the historical value I thought it would provide, but seriously, this main character druid Ainvar, spends the whole book basically thinking up "druid" things to say. It's like the author has never actually met a wise person, and they tried to think up what a wise person would say. Being wise isn't about saying cryptic fortune cookie sayings and telling people not to question you. I'm not the person with the authority to define w ...more
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
If I stopped after the first half of the book, I would definitely give this one five stars. The beginning of the book took me away to another world, putting me in the mind of a Druid boy as he learned Druid ways. When I read, I prefer a sort of intelligent escapism in that I like to be drawn up into the story, shown a different way of thinking--in this case, the way a Druid sees the world. I enjoyed Ainvar's view of death and magic. The second half of the book, however, focused mostly on fightin ...more
Shan Bruland
Aug 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorites, Morgan Llywelyn does a masterful job bringing to life pre roman expansion Gaul, and the Celtic/Druid way of life that has been largely lost to history. This wonderful book tells the story of a nobody Celtic boy, who grows to be the religious leader of the Gaulish clans, and in the end, allows the saving of his people. Llywelyn does a great job illustrating the intricacies of a large scale war, uniting a vast swathe of often warring clans, displaying to the layman th ...more
Aaron Carson
Jan 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
A truely amazing book. I was completely thrown into the era. The book carries a very strong Celtic atmosphere, and even has some actual realistic occult ritual in it. I think I'd have enjoyed it more, if it was simply a story about druids instead of the tragic retelling of the conquest of Caesar, from the perspective of the defeated party. That said, the book still carries a whif of ancient mystery and is quite impactful for such a slim volume. Some parts of the story were confusing, and I still ...more
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I picked this up at a used book store thinking it was fantasy. There were some magical moments, but they could easily be a matter of happenstance. This book turned out to be a well researched, well written historical fiction about the Celtic and Druid point of view of Gaius Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul (area west of the Rhine). I really wish the Druids had written down their history as I would like to have known more about Vercingetorix.
Mar 06, 2018 rated it did not like it
I really love this period of history. I'm a big fan of ancient Gaulish and Germanic culture, and I think the tension and cultural developments between Rome and Gaul at the time of Julius Caesar are fascinating, and few authors write about the Gaulish side of things. I was hoping that would all translate well in this book; it did not.

The Characters
Ainvar the Druid is the main character. His supposed prowess in sorcery is only matched by his prowess in women - by the end of the story, he has "tam
Dec 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
I picked up my copy in a used book store in Malmo, Sweden. Carried it to several other countries before bringing it home to San Diego, where I finished reading it and then set it free again to wander. I enjoyed the character development and the well-researched details of Celtic Gaul.

I was fascinated by this tale of the people of north and western France. I didn't know much of the history presented in this story of the tribes of Celts, Germans, and early Swiss. This takes place during the harshne
Oct 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one took me a little over a week to read but it was a good story. As someone who comes from the Celtic heritage I enjoyed the story not only from a writing standpoint but also from a more familial standpoint. Of course, there were liberties taken I am sure. Not much to say on this particular novel unfortunately but I will say it did go through peaks and valleys when it came to action vs latency. I would recommend the book to those who like historical type novels it was fun to see what may h ...more
Jul 21, 2013 rated it liked it
I came across this book, in some random bookstore. I like reading about medieval times, about kings and brave knights. But this was a totally different ball game for me. Pagan priests and their various customs got me glued to the book. Druids is a book that I started reading without any preassumptions.

Though there is a plot and characters, its the various customs and rituals of this ancient people that caught my imagination. Full of magic, power of Nature and how they incoperated into their way
HRM Maire
Mar 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans
This book is representative of all of Morgan Llywelyn's stories; I love all of them. She writes historical and mythological fiction mostly from Ireland, and this one is situated in Celtic Gaul, I believe; she also wrote one about the Etruscans that I liked...first one I ever read by her was "The Lion of Ireland" and I actually stole it from the library (I was a stupid kid); I think I can date my obsessive insanity about Ireland and all things Irish and Celtic from the theft of that book!
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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.

Other books in the series

Druids (2 books)
  • The Greener Shore (Druids #2)

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