Miranda Aldhouse-Green

Celtic Myths: A Guide to the Ancient Gods & Legends

Author: Miranda Aldhouse-Green | Publisher: Thames & Hudson

The work Miranda Aldhouse-Green has been doing was referenced in Pagan Britain, by Ronald Hutton (which is also a great book, if you’re interested in the history of the British Isles, just FYI), and I’ve been dying to read Celtic Myths ever since. I’m so glad I did! This is my area of particular study, and this is the book I’ve been looking for on the subject.

The thing I liked most about Celtic Myths was the way the author attempted to reconcile all the different strands of research and evidence. So many books and papers focus on one area: archaeology or texts, linguistic analysis or art. There are so few that even attempt to put all the pieces together to form a coherent picture, which always leaves the reader with more questions.

I also liked that the author wasn’t afraid to insert her own conclusions. As with most things when it comes to ancient history, there’s always ambiguity because there’s just so much we don’t know; most authors focus on that ambiguity and shy away from presenting their opinion. The ambiguity is raised in Celtic Myths, but it doesn’t stop the author from drawing a logical inference from the available evidence. Even when I didn’t quite agree with it, I at least prefer a bold step to some scholarly fence sitting!

Celtic Myths was also eminently readable. The story is drawn out with quotes from texts, illustrated with clear images, and the language is down to earth. It’s a fine balance between scholarly research, presenting a book which will really tackle the question you’ve set up, and actually producing something readable for the ordinary person. This book nailed that balance perfectly.

I thoroughly enjoyed Celtic Myths. It was interesting, thoroughly researched, well-written, and presented a view of the subject which was both familiar and, somehow, at the same time new. I’d definitely recommend it for non-fiction readers and those with an interest in the Celts.

5 out of 5 Archimedes

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