Monday, June 6, 2011

Book of Choice: The Hounds of the Morrigan

Pidge, a young boy from Ireland, buys an old Latin book and set free the evil serpent Olc-Glas that was imprisoned in the book. The Morrigan want Olc-Glas for herself because the serpent will increase her power. Pidge and his sister Brigit are sent on a quest to trap Olc-Glas again and to foil the plan of the Morrigan. The are hunted by the Morrigan's hounds, but helped along the way by the Dadga and the creatures of Faerie.

This is a book full of magic, not wand-waving magic, but the old magic of legends and fairy tales. I wasn't very familiar with Irish legends when I first read the book as a child, but there was a strong sense of familiarity because the magic follows the same unwritten rules I knew from fairy tales.

The quest is a dangerous one, but even when things seem hopeless, Pidge and Brigit trust the Dagda and that trust is conveyed to the reader, there is a strong sense of someone watching over the children and help always comes.

Many figures straight out of Irish mythology turn up in the book, more or less true to how they are in the legends. It doesn't matter if you don't know them, though, the book can be read without that knowledge (much like Lloyd Alexander's Taran series). It's fun to look up the characters after reading the book, though. The edition I own also has a glossary where some information is given, along with a guide to pronounciation of the Irish names that I find very useful.

The Hounds of the Morrigan is one of my favourite books and I have read it many times. The vivid images remain just as strong as they were the first time I read it and at times, it makes me wish for such a wonderful adventure of my own, despite the danger. Wouldn't it be great to find a way to cross over into Faerie? I just would ask that "the grass doesn't grow beneath my feet" until I'm back, as it is put in the book.

One thing that annoys me about my edition: it has "if you liked Harry Potter, you will love this book" printed on the cover. Yeah, because, um, both books have young children as the main characters and because ... they have nothing else in common actually. Stop comparing everything to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings already.

The Hounds of the Morrigan by Pat O'Shea is my second book for the Ireland Challenge.

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