This book has taken me by surprise, and in a good way. All I had known about it before picking it up was that it was a well-written historical fantasy, blending Irish history and mythology, so I had a sort of general idea what to expect. I thought I would find it interesting, but didn’t expect to love it this much.

Shauna Lawless has an obvious passion for Irish history that shines through every chapter, effortlessly transporting the reader into a vivid, realistic representation of 10th century Ireland. But it’s her writing skills and talent which won me over, the tone of her storytelling bringing to mind books I had previously enjoyed from other authors, such as Philippa Gregory and Madeline Miller. Smooth, mesmerising, but with a dangerous, sharp edge to it, that is always ready to strike.

Writing the story from the point of view of two very different women, one power-hungry, selfish, devious, the other kind-hearted, caring, naive was a brilliant decision and done very well. I felt that on one hand we had Gormflaith, whose continuous scheming manipulated history and drove the plot, on the other Fódla, whose conduct was more reactive, resigned to her fate, up to a point where eventually her internal transition under external strains slowly reached a turning point. Both journeys were intriguing to follow.

The long lives of the members of the two mythical tribes, combined with hidden powers, and the grief they felt upon losing mortal loved ones gave me strong Highlander vibes, that fitted in with the traits of the medieval world remarkably well.

All in all, I would call The Children Of Gods And Fighting Men a very strong debut and I look forward to reading more books from this author in the future.

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