A brief but fascinating summary of early Irish mythology with violence and some sexual content.
Thousands of years ago, when the earth was young and the sun was hotter than it is now, the wise Tuan walked as a man among the fields of Éireann. He saw kingdoms come and go, and he lay down to sleep in death; and time after time he rose as some new creature so that he lived for countless ages. Finally, during the reign of one happy kingdom, he saw his own people returning to Éireann and lived to see his happy isle wracked by the wars of heroes and the green fields turn red by warriors’ blood.
It is difficult to pin down any sort of morality in this collection of stories. Two warriors, though they are of different tribes, share a common ancestor and therefore refuse to fight each other. The more famous heroes make a point to fight each other fairly. But sin is not really touched upon, and the story is fairly straightforward slaughter between two peoples.
This story is rife with spiritual content. Tuan himself is magically changed from a man, to a stag, to a boar, to an eagle throughout the story; men use sorcery to aid them in battle; druids call upon the gods — the gods occasionally appear — and the numerous spirits of battle and death are constantly present when the two tribes fight.
There is a great deal of violence in The Book of Conquests. Written in a slightly poetic style, the author takes time to describe the violence in some detail. Limbs and heads are lost, bowels are disgorged, the after-silence of the battlefield is often mentioned to be broken with the cries of the dying.
Contrasted to the stark image of death on the battlefield, the hero Nuada’s ‘frenzies’ add a living potency to the tale. Possessed with the image of the Sun God, the hero becomes a magnificent and immortal figure, killing all in his path.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Drinks are mentioned, but no drunkenness.
One of the battle goddesses takes the image of a human and sleeps with Nuada. This is described briefly, but the author is also the illustrator and there is one panel illustration of nudity that the reader should be aware of.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
See Sexual Content.
I found this to be an interesting summary of stories from the Early Mythological Cycle of Ireland. It is a little slow in getting started, but the mysterious figure of Tuan, the narrator, deftly carries the story through. The reader is not drawn into the lives of the characters, but given quite literally a bird’s eye view of the scenes unfolding in the story. The illustrations are magnificent, the descriptions superb; the brief mentions of the feats of heroes left me wanting more.
The reader should be aware, however, that regardless of the mythic majesty of these tales, it is the story of an island being taken by brute force with a great deal of bloodshed involved. The violence can turn graphic on occasion, and also the one instance of sexual interplay should be remembered.