Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Berresford Ellis

Celtic Myths and Legends is a collection of Irish, Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Manx and Breton tales brought together by Peter Ellis in one volume.  Ellis, tells the tales in his own words, from manuscripts that he has read.  Now you can say what you will about Ellis’s loyalties but he is a great storyteller.  He may idolize the Celts, but the stories are worth telling and he certainly brings them to life.

He begins the book with an introduction to the Celts.  He gives a short abridged history both of the people and the language.  He compares them and their mythology to that of the Indians to show that they come from the same mother language, that of the Indo-Europeans.  He also gives an overview of the sources from which he got his stories (read myths), and how old those sources are, though he didn’t do a very good job of that because I ended up being confused about it all.  The first chapter after the Introduction was termed The Ever Living Ones and it is the myth of how the Tuatha De Danann had come to Ireland.  It is most likely from the Book of Invasions though the author never told us so.

What follows the introduction are the myths from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Brittany.  He prefaces each section of the myths with a little history and some of the works that he is getting the myths from.

The best point of this book is that the myths are recounted in a very easy way, which can be understood by anyone.  Peter Ellis is a great storyteller.  Here is where I think he went wrong, first I don’t know why he chose these specific myths (other than some sentimental reasons) and he didn’t tell us exactly where he got these myths from and a short history of these manuscripts would have been nice.

This is a good book to read if you want a good storytelling of some of the myths from each Celtic country.


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