Chronicles Of The Celts


Author: Iain Zaczek
Published: 1996
Publisher: Collins and Brown Limited, Great Britain.
Pages: 159

Synopsis: Chronicles of the Celts presents the epic stories of a fascinating people. Here are legends of invincible hero-warriors, faerie enchantresses and magical forests that evoke the fire, pride and passion associated with the Celts.

Review: I had originally wanted this book years ago for a course on the Celts. However, at the time I couldn’t find a copy, so I bought the alternate text that the course provider had suggested. Imagine my surprise when I saw it on Amazon all these years later. So I bought it. The course I was taking at the time was a history course so I assumed that this book was going to be a history book. I was wrong. This is a mythology book. It has myths from Ireland, Wales, and Brittany. It is one of those beautifully organised books with beautiful photographs of artefacts, manuscripts and landscapes. It is not a large book, only 159 pages, which includes the bibliography, pronunciation guide, and picture credits.

The Introduction to the book is very interesting, it talks about a little history (enough to wet your appetite), a little art, some culture and tradition, Arthurian links, Christian influences, romantic fiction and the Celtic revival. By the end you know a little bit of everything but not enough to say that you know history based on this book.

The book starts with the Irish myths then goes on to Wales and Brittany. They are not the exact myths but rather a retelling of these myths. I loved that before each myth there is an explanation of where it came from, what the plot is and who the main characters are. Interspersed though out these myths are little boxes that have tit bits of information on artefacts, Gods, or some aspect of the culture.

This book isn’t perfect, maybe a tiny bit romantic in some aspects but it is a good book. If you want an easy to read book or an introduction to some of the more famous myths in the Celtic culture this is a great book to have.

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8 thoughts on “Chronicles Of The Celts

  1. Thanks for this! I try to find books – especially older ones – that chronicle the mythology and tie it in with history. This sounds perfect.

    • celticscholar says:

      It was a good book to read, just remember it is retelling the myths not writing them in their original form. And it only has a few of the myths of each culture, the most famous ones.

  2. Dafydd says:

    Great review! What general Celtic mythology books would you recommend are the best? I don’t have much on the subject beyond some tattered copies of general works, like the very short and very cheap ‘Dictionary of the Celts’.

    I’m thinking of getting Ciaran Carson’s version of the Tain Bo Cualige, and Margaret Jones’ illustrated version of the Mabinogion (the paintings inside look beautiful).

    • celticscholar says:

      Okay so:

      1. Celtic Myths and Legends by Michael Foss
      2. Myths and Legends of the Celts by James MacKillop*
      3. Celtic Mythology by Proinsias MacCana*
      4. Celtic Myths and Legends by Peter Ellis

      * Denotes highly recommended books. I have more on the Irish mythology but you asked for general 🙂

      For the Táin I would recommend Kinsella, he has the better translation.

  3. Dafydd says:

    Thank you so much for the list! 🙂

    I’ve seen the Peter Berresford Ellis’ book, so I will certainly add that to the list, although the late Proinsias MacCana is a better scholar than Ellis. Thank you for the suggestion of Kinsella’s version too.
    The problem I find with some translations is that they take different tones – some use modern words and slang (like certain translations of Aristophanes’ Greek plays using words like ‘dollars’ instead of drachmas). Others use archaic sayings like ‘thee’ and ‘thou’, which are nice, but often hard to read through. A lot of the Penguin translations work well, but a few others are not so good. Still, no matter how good a book is, a lot is often lost in translation!

    Anyway, Thanks again!

    • celticscholar says:

      Just one point, Ellis’s book is a retelling of the myths, I add it on here because people seem to like it (I didn’t think much of it lol). It’s okay but not great.

  4. Thanks for the list! Since my fictional fantasy series deals with the Continental Celtic mythology (although a contemporary incarnation of it), I’m always looking for general rather than Irish literature – both retellings and translations. The Ellis book wasn’t my cup of tea either, but I’ve just gotten my copy of Chronicles! I’ll check out the others on the list.

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