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Flame Over Tara

by Madeleine A. Polland
192 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

A realistic look at Patrick’s advent to Ireland through a young woman’s eyes.

Plot

Macha was happy. She had come of age and she was going home to be married, leaving her foster-parents’ house for the last time. But on the day she was to leave a mysterious man of Roman descent sailed into her life, a man whose beliefs were to turn the world upside down. Caught up in the man’s passion for his God, Macha seeks to follow too, and her life is thrown into confusion as she struggles to understand what following God really means.

Morality

Morality is excellent. The characters are all human, and they are neither as wicked nor as good as they could be, while Christ is shown as the one true good of all.

Spiritual Content

This is a story of Patrick’s advent in Ireland, and so it is full of spirituality, both Christian and druidic. There are Elijah-type contests between Patrick and the druids. The book also incorporates the famous prophecy of the druids that foretold the coming of Patrick.

Violence

The tribes of Ireland were often war-like and there are some fights, fires, and deaths periodically, but nothing is described graphically.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Alcoholic drinks such as ale and mead are consumed.

Sexual Content

Macha is intended for marriage, but sexuality itself is not mentioned. Marriage is held in a very positive light.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

The druids are not always portrayed as sane, which is perhaps unkind since druids were the philosophers and scientists, the wise men, of the Celtic peoples. Otherwise, the book is clean.

Conclusion

This is an enjoyable, quickly-read book of a girl in Ireland during the time of Patrick sorting out her old worldview with the new one she has been given by Christ. Though easy to read and understand, the author crafts her words in such a way as to give the reader a good feel for the time period. This would make a good addition to the repertoire of books in a child’s library.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 5
Written for Age: 11-12

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