Author: Liam O’Shiel
Series: Book 1, Saga of the Latter-Day Celts
Publishing platform: CreateSpace
Publication Date: November 11, 2011
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Alt-Future, Semi-Medieval Low-Tech Science Fiction, Recommended, Future Historical Fiction
First off, I interrupted my reading of this book with several family emergencies, and I always itched to get back. Second, I have the sequel (In the Bleak Midwinter) on my shelf waiting for me, and I am ready to dive in! Review will be posted on that one as soon as I am done.
The unique premise of Eirelan: Ireland, around 2000 years after the collapse of the tech-forward civilization, has evolved into a low-tech, but not quite medieval society where people of the twenty Clans struggle against the rising tide of war with the Dubliners and others. The society is full of regular people without superpowers like being super-hot, a zombie, half-robot, or just simply able to save the world by zapping an eye out of a buzzard with a bull whip at 150 yards while looking super-hot wearing leather pants. While it is true that in this novel women ‘man’ the Navy and men and children man the forts, towers, and walls, they are still just men and women, and even better, just people relating to each other in all the right ways. O’Shiel has fairly treated all genders. Above all, everyone seems to be refreshingly normally abnormal, in an entirely human and endearing way.
Rich in the seamless history of its own making, as well as the authority of its human relationships, the story works its way forward as Conor, Mairin, Aideen, and all the other characters struggle to resolve the lifelong ideology of honor and sacrifice against the fatigue of perpetual loss, struggle, and looming inexorable change. Memorable.
This book has so many positives that I am only going to list some of the standout qualities. It is huge, around 800 pages, but it is not heavy with filler, so is paced to hold the reader’s attention and move the story forward at a nice clip. The author is skilled. He chooses language that reflects the time and place he is writing about (though fictional), and it enhances the overall voice of the series. The future low tech society O’Shiel constructs is such a well thought out speculation that it results in near perfect execution of the subtle nuances of a far distant residue of a modern cultural identity. I had to go back and reread parts just to roll around in it.
This series is one of those rare gems found in the plethora of independently published works. I have been pleased to find several lately, but this rises high. Thank you Liam O’Shiel, for all your hard work, I hope to see many more works from you in the future. Not that I shy away from epics, but feel free to make them shorter to get them out faster. Ha!