Why did I read it? I stumbled across this book while searching for another, more academic tome: “The Biography of the Irish God of the Sea from the Voyage of Bran (700 A.D.) to Finnegans Wake (1939): The Waves of Manannán” also by Charles W. MacQuarrie. The publishers, Lily Publications Limited, sell it for a reasonable price, so I ordered it.
What’s it about? This collection of stories about Manannán mac Lir has been translated and freely adapted by the author with the intention of being suitable for children. In these stories Manannán serves as a tester, and a teacher to the mortals he encounters. Sometimes he appears as a nobleman, and sometimes as a churl; sometimes he imparts his wisdom gently, and sometimes gingerly; sometimes he teaches philosophy, and sometimes good manners, but he always seems to have the best interests of civilization at heart.
What did I like? These tales are aimed at children, though I’m not entirely sure which age group. The book is a quick read, containing four tales, and illustrations. It took me less than an hour to read all 54 pages, even with distractions. The stories are condensed, and easily digestible on the whole.
What didn’t I like? Personally, I found the mix of language confusing; one minute American (references to baseball, ralphing), the next old-fashioned English in the form of a poem. Although the author may have felt this might make the book more appealing to a world-wide audience, I felt it jarred a little. It is interesting to note this mix of dialects, given the book is published on the Isle of Man. Also, there was some strange phrasing, and the odd word I had to look up in a dictionary.
There did appear to be some editorial issues in that some sentences seemed out of place with the story, and there are two stories involving Finn: the first has him dead at the end, and the second, which immediately follows the first, has him walking in a forest after the battle mentioned in the former story in which he dies. It may take some time to explain to a child reader how this might be possible.
Would I recommend it? Yes, with the caveat that I have no idea what age range would find the material suitable, nor which nationality.