Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blog Tour Review: Bending the Boyne by J.S. Dunn

From the Back Cover:

Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Well before any Celts, marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Banished to far coasts, Cian discovers how to outwit the invaders at their own game. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures and between Boann, Elcmar, and her son Aengus, ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland s beginnings in a totally new light.

Bending The Boyne draws on 21st century archaeology to show the lasting impact when early metal mining and trade take hold along north Atlantic coasts. Carved megaliths and stunning gold artifacts, from the Pyrenees up to the Boyne, come to life in this researched historical fiction.

My Thoughts:

J.S. Dunn has spent a decade studying the Bronze Age culture in Ireland and has crafted a mystical story drawn from early Irish folklore and from the objects, carvings, and symbols discovered in the ancient mounds on Ireland and nearby islands. The Starwatchers living at the Boyne in 2200 BC study the night sky in an effort to understand the secrets of the universe. Theirs is a culture based on seasons, cycles, and ceremonies. But their peace-loving society is at a turning point.

The arrival of marauders violently intent on making the land their own as they search for copper and gold threatens their peaceful way of life. And the elders and the younger generation are at odds over how to assess this threat. Boann, the young sweetheart of the Boyne village, has chosen to forgo her training as a healer to study the stars. Her lover Cian, a talented symbol carver, disappoints the village by choosing to live with the newcomers, studying their way of life. What the Starwatcher elders can't understand is that Cian is not embracing the marauding lifestyle, but trying to figure out how his people can coexist with these barbarous and greedy newcomers. His quest to discover the secrets of precious metals and to determine how his people can profit from them takes him far from home, and exposes him to the Seafarers' way of life. Meanwhile Boann valiantly attempts to create a bridge between the two divergent societies, but ultimately has to watch as more and more marauders arrive, chipping away at the Starwatchers' authority and reshaping the future of the island.

It's very interesting subject matter, and my eyes were opened to the plight of the indigenous population, and I was amazed at the advanced understanding the Starwatchers were able to achieve with such primitive methods and instruments. But there was a lot of repetitive description, and long and frequent passages discussing astronomical observances and ore mining procedures at length, and I think the story suffered for it. It slowed the forward motion down, and didn't leave enough room for relationships to be fully developed, for characters to be fleshed out, and for me it didn't have enough emotional impact. It's a fairly primitive society and the style of writing reinforces that; the sentences are shorter and choppy, the language is a little backwards, and at times I thought it made the characters seem simple. Then again, at other times it lent a poetic quality to the prose. Overall, I liked the story, and I think it's a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the dawning of the Bronze Age in the British Isles. I admire the author's dedication, meticulous research, and desire to bring this little-known chapter of history to life.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

Bending the Boyne is on a blog tour!
Click Here to learn more about the book, read an excerpt and an interview with the author, and visit the other blogs participating in the tour.


  1. This one is new to me. I'm not sure if it would be something I would like

  2. I might keep an eye out for this, and snag it if it's at a good price. I'm really interested in the subject matter, but I'd hate to be disappointed by the execution.

    Thanks for the review!


I love comments! Getting feedback on my posts makes my day! Thanks for being here!