Irish Mythology Woven into a Fun, Fast-Paced Adventure,
By Jason Parent “horror suspense guy” 23 Oct 2012
Who knew Irish mythology could be so interesting? Ali Isaac’s book, The Four Treasures of Eirean, firmly roots itself in a rich and captivating folklore that makes me wonder why Greek mythology has over saturated the fantasy realm. Now, I love Greek mythology, but there’s only so many times the same stories can be redone before they get tired. Isaac’s novel rekindles that spark I had when I first heard of Perseus and Athena and their lot.
Isaac’s story is the first book of a trilogy, but make no mistake: The Four Treasures of Eirean is a complete story in and of itself. I would not be giving the book a good review otherwise.
The story gives a detailed but not onerous account of fabled events occurring “4,000 years ago.” In some cases, these events retell Irish myths pertaining to the Tuatha De Denaan and Tir Na Nog, the fairy people of a mystical paradise (nothing like Tinkerbell). In others, Isaac uses the myths as building blocks from which she develops an original tale.
4000 years into the future (present day for us), a physically disabled boy named Conor is thrust into a conflict that has been millenia in the making. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, Conor must find and release a power within himself to overcome fierce adversaries and mythical creatures, conquer the perhaps fiercer adversary of self-doubt, and find four mysterious treasures of untold power, all to save a race of people to whom he owes nothing.
Conor’s adventure leads him to cultural and historical sites across Ireland and into the Otherworld. The book’s primary strength lies in its weaving of mythology and associated Irish historical sites into a story that transcends time, relatable to readers of all ages, regardless of nationality. Another strength is its multi-dimensional characters, some of whom blur the lines between good and evil. It’s Narnia meets Percy Jackson.
My primary criticism with the book concerns the four treasures themselves. I had a difficult time discerning how they were lost if they were stolen for the villain, or if the villain hid them, why he couldn’t just go and pick them up himself for his own use. The villain was exceptional, but perhaps the author overstepped a bit when she links him to global conflicts of the last century. Also, Conor’s infliction was a mystery to me, though I can certainly understand an author’s concerns with pinpointing a precise ailment when it seems it can only be overcome in part by magic.
None of these concerns are fatal to enjoyment of The Four Treasures. Overall, it is a fun, fast-paced read that will have you willing Conor forward and, perhaps, desiring travel to Ireland. I’m happy to have read it and am curious to see what Isaac will do with her next installment.
An old Irish tale comes to life.
By Sandy “Sandy Johnson” (Minnesota USA) 16 Oct 2012
In spite of the fact that I don’t normally read fantasy. I enjoyed this book. It is the story of Conor, a disabled young man who must overcome his fears, and he has a lot to be fearful about as he struggles along with Annalee of the fairy folk, to find the four treasures that will save her people. There were little moments in this book that I truly enjoyed – preparing an outdoor kitchen, the idea that magic is permitted only when actually needed, and Conor’s struggles, in spite of being in a wheelchair, to learn the magic he needs to do the job. My only problem was keeping track of so many different names, but that did not keep me from enjoying the book tremendously.
A story to treasure, whatever your age.
By Jay Howard “Cirrus” 6 Aug 2012
Do you remember, with nostalgia, reading adventure stories full of youthful courage, heroes and villains, humans and fantastical creatures? Did you enjoy Narnia? If so, this book will have you doing everything in your power to read it in one sitting.
It’s firmly grounded in well researched Irish folklore and history, a sophisticated fairy tale of epic proportions that will appeal to children and adults alike. Ali Isaac cleverly leads us between the present and events of 4,000 years ago. Fourteen year old Conor, confined in his wheelchair, is fated to be the saviour of his ancestors, the Sidhe, and is led back to his kin by the intermediary, Annalee, through the Cloak of Concealment. When he learns of their plight he agrees to seek their lost four treasures, stolen from them by a power-hungry traitor. Naturally, the treasures have magical powers of which mere humans are unaware.
Annalee returns with Conor from Tir na Nog to the present to help in the quest. But is she all she seems? Many trials and dangers are overcome together. In the best traditions of fairy stories, in helping the Sidhe, Conor finds his own power, and the final battle is very satisfying.
Don’t be put off by the plethora of Irish names. There is a pronunciation guide if you want to enter the spirit of it. It’s too awkward to flick back and forth on a Kindle but a print of those few pages does the job nicely. Alternatively, you can invent your own pronunciations – say it as you see it. Personally, I think a bit of work at the beginning is well worth it.
I am so looking forward to books 2 and 3.
An Irish Tale.
By Gloria Piper 2 Oct 2012
The tale is a complex mix of myth and present day adventure that the author has addressed in an interesting way. Instead of opening the story with our hero, Conor, she opens it with a prologue that introduces the spine of our story. This spine is the history and myth that continues as a bleed-in throughout the rest of the book.
Conor is a wheelchair bound, fourteen-year-old boy. I was confused about the extent of his disability, thinking he had severe cerebral palsy and therefore was something of a physical vegetable. But we find later on that he can use his hands and he can take limited steps.
Conor is the descendent of the Master of All Arts, and he is called upon by Annalee of the fairy folk to save her people. Helpless as he is, he is the only one capable of their salvation. And we learn his role also impacts the physical world. If he fails, not only will the fairy world be cast into turmoil and loss, but the physical world will be ruled by pure evil.
Impossible tasks become possible through a magic Conor doesn’t know he had. And while his successes sometimes seem to come too easily and the twists and turns are sometimes predictable, how they come about is worth the read.
The logic of Irish pronunciation escapes me, but the author takes pity on her readers by providing a pronunciation glossary of characters, places, and artifacts. She also keeps the reader from utter confusion over so many Gaelic names that don’t exactly roll off the tongue by reminding us in subtle ways who these characters , places, or artifacts are.
This is a delightful story that will capture the young adult as well as the older reader. It made me want to visit Ireland.