I’ve finished two books this year so far, although I started one of them in December. It was The Táin: From the Irish Epic Táin Bó Cuailnge translated by Thomas Kinsella. Táin Bó Cuailnge translates as the cattle raid of Cooley, and centres around the Ulster hero Cúchulainn single handedly stopping the armies of Queen Mebh of Connaught, who is trying to steal a bull from Ulster as part of a pissing contest with her husband, King Ailill.
I like reading ancient tales. I read Andrew George’s translation of the Epic of Gilgamesh a few years ago and enjoyed it. Kinsella’s translation of the Táin holds nothing back when it comes to gory details. Decapitations, smashed skulls, brain splatterings and dismemberments (that I’ve been told are pearl clutched out of other translations) provide vivid violence among the narrative and chanting.
I’ve only ever had a vague awareness of Cúchulainn as something to do with old stories of Ulster. This book was a great way to learn what he’s all about.
The second book I read is Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, author of The Martian. It’s in the same vein of a lone human battling against the odds in an environment far from Earth. It’s a ripping yarn with twists and turns, and an easy read to boot. I finished it in 5 days which is very quick for me. I haven’t been a big reader since I was a teenager, hence a celebratory blog post when I’ve read two books!
I’m not qualified to do book reviews (again, not since I was a teenager and had to for English class). If you think they’ll be for you then buy them, if not give them a miss. Another option is your local library, which is what I do.
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