Celts and Kings, by Melvin Hathorn: Book Review
October 29th, 2007 by Sgt. Mom
“Celts and Kings”, by educator and lecturer Melvin Hathorn attempts to explain one of Ireland’s great unsolved mysteries, the so-called “Flight of the Earls” in the year 1607. The leaders of the ancient Gaelic nobility of Ireland, already under English pressure departed with certain of their families and followers from Rathmullen in County Tyrone, intending to travel to Spain, to ask for assistance from King Philip in regaining control over their domains and lands. Their sudden departure left much of Catholic Ireland leaderless and at the mercy of the invading English, and set the stage for the complete loss of Irish independence until early in the last century.
The author posits that the earls and their followers took a certain great treasure of Ireland with them… and thereby hangs the modern-day tale of scholar John Michaels. At a squint the modern story somewhat resembles a Gaelic “DaVinci Code” with a hidden artifact of enormous cultural value, sought by dark and malevolent forces. At first not quite able to grasp what is going on, Michaels is yet aided by a collection of friends and allies – one of them being an attractive graduate student, Megan O’Rourke. Are they something more than friends? And why is Michaels being spied on by the sinister employee of a powerful multi-millionaire with a deeply personal grudge against him? Is there something more than the fallout from a spat in academia going on here?
The author has an intriguing premise and plot, as well as considerable knowledge of Irish history and of contemporary Ireland. He has constructed a clear and easily understood narrative; the average reader should easily be able to follow the twists and turns without trouble. The scenes of academic jealousies and backbiting rang particularly true, but the eventual denouement, the showdown between Michaels and his allies, and the villain seemed a little sketchy in the telling. This reviewer was reminded of the necessity in writing thrillers (or any sort of adventure novel) of “showing” what happened and how they characters feel and react, which involves the reader in the drama, rather than merely passively telling. Some of the dialogue rang a little hollow, also – especially some of the exchanges of insults and threats between villain and heroes. I had mentally gotten out my red pencil and re-wrote them to sound more gripping, which is always an indication to me that I have become engaged in the story - but must acknowledge to myself that it could use more polish here and there.
“Celts and Kings” is available here at Amazon.com and other online retail outlets