The Princes of Ireland (also known as Dublin: Foundation) is the first book in Edward Rutherfurd’s Dublin Saga. It chronicles the history of Ireland, especially in the locale of modern-day Dublin, through the ages; from ancient Pagan times to English control in the 16th century.
It is utterly fascinating. Especially if you’ve ever been to Dublin, have Irish ancestry, or just enjoy history being fed to you in the guise of entertainment. Personally, I’m all of the above.
I’ve visited Dublin a number of times, including the fascinating Dublinia exhibit that details the Viking occupation of the port. While it is a great exhibit that I’d recommend to anyone, this book is the perfect complement to it. The history that I already knew about is now free to come alive in my imagination. Rutherfurd makes a few factual errors– most notably asserting that the Vikings wore horned helmets when they didn’t– but they are minor and forgivable.
Because of my visits to Dublin, I know the geography of the area and understand the relative distances. I understand the relative age of different historical places and structures. And it is such an amazing feeling to think that perhaps I stood on the shoreline where two of Rutherford’s fictional characters engaged in a fight to the death over 1,500 years ago. You can’t underestimate the power of something like that.
If you have any ties to Ireland at all or even a minor curiosity, check out this book. It’s well worth a read.