DiscoverHistorical Fiction

The King's Priest


Worth reading 😎

A Viking-turned-priest must revert to his warrior past to fight an invading army in 10th century Ireland.

When Rannal’s King dies in battle and the heir to the throne is taken hostage, the heathen-turned-priest must resort to his old warlike ways to save the land from the raiders.

Martin Byrd’s The King’s Priest is an epic tale of ancient Ireland in the time of the Viking invasions and cattle raids around the tenth century CE. Drawing on folklore and history, Byrd weaves an exciting tale of men fighting against seemingly overwhelming odds against a powerful Invader. The saga begins in the aftermath of the battle of Ceis-Corainn, which occurred in 971, when Murchad (The-King-in-the-North), with the support of Viking mercenaries, defeated Cathal, king of Connaught and laid waste to the region. The remnants of the defeated army and a rag tag group of farmers and militia face the invaders in a final battle at the ford of a river to recover their livestock and drive the invaders out of the kingdom.

The book is full of references to historic events and locations and just enough mysticism to make it an authentic Irish tale. There are cattle raids, set pieces and even the appropriation of a Viking long ship which the defenders turn to their advantage. There are a few of the man-to-man duels that were common in that era, and often decided the battle.

In a bid for authenticity, Byrd uses the original Gaelic names of people, titles and places which makes for a difficult read at times. He provides a handy guide to pronunciation and a glossary that would have been helpful had I found it before finishing the book. The archaic place names make it difficult for those not familiar with Irish history to place the events on a modern map, but it seems to have taken place in what is now Galway.

The King’s priest is a good read for those looking for some distraction from the tension of quarantining and being forced to live cheek by jowl with the other members of one’s clan.

Reviewed by

I am a writer and educator publishing fiction, essays, reviews and poetry. I write reviews for Wendy Welch's little bookstore at Big Stone gap blog. I am a writing teacher and workshop facilitator, and have published fiction, essays, reviews, poems and photographs.


About the author

Martin Bird was born in the Wirral near Chester in the North West of England in 1960. He trained as a professional engineer and worked in the electricity industry for thirty years. He travelled extensively for work before taking up residence in New Zealand where he now writes for pleasure. view profile

Published on December 13, 2019

Published by

100000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

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