My dad passed on his copy of The Princes of Ireland to me after reading and enjoying it. It took me awhile to get into it. I haven’t read an Edward Rutherfurd novel since his first big geographically-based blockbuster, Sarum. I didn’t dislike Sarum, but I also had no desire to reread it. When I started reading The Princes of Ireland I understood my reluctance.
The problem I have with Edward Rutherfurd is that his novels cover a vast period of time, set in a single geographical location. This is, admittedly, a pretty cool concept and he does it well. My problem is that just as I’m getting involved with the characters in a particular time period, that story ends and I’m whisked forward 250 years to another period, where all the characters I just got to know are long dead and I have to re-acquaint myself with a new bunch.
This time, I decided to think of the novel as a collection of linked novellas, and it worked better for me that way. Some of the stories were more engaging than others, but all caught my attention when I gave them a chance. The novel tells the story of several families in and around Dublin over a period of more than 1000 years. It gives a great overview of the broad sweep of Irish history, filling in a number of blanks for me since it’s been many years since I’ve read anything about the history of Ireland. Once I got over the initial hurdle of wanting a single continuous story throughout the whole book, I was able to relax and enjoy The Princes of Ireland for the stunning accomplishment it is. The sequel, The Rebels of Ireland, is on my bookcase now and I’ll be looking forward to reading it soon!