Jim Fitzpatrick,
The Book of Conquests
(Paper Tiger, 1978)

It's not often I'll say this, so pay attention.

The words are only a secondary feature of Jim Fitzpatrick's epic tale of Ireland's earliest mythological saga.

The story Fitzpatrick tells, of the coming of the Tuatha de Danann, their exploits against the Fir Bolg and the great battle of Moy Tura, is of grand proportions. He tells it in vivid style, with a narrative style fitting Eire's most ancient legends. You can almost close your eyes and see the dreadful clash between the Tuatha de Danann and their foes, the Fir Bolg, the rain of blood brought by Badb over the assembled hosts, the bloody hurling match between the youth of the De Danann and the Miled. the mysterious hero who saved the unarmed Fir Bolg king, Eochai, from slaughter by three murderous strangers, and the battle frenzy of Nuada.

Fitzpatrick's story alone is worth the price of the book for any fan of solid Irish mythology. It doesn't drag like some versions, maintaining a fast pace and high excitement throughout.

But the true value of The Book of Conquests isn't the words, it's the art. Fitzpatrick has garnered an excellent reputation for his artwork, and this book showcases him at his best.

Every page is framed by intricate and colorful knotwork and anthropomorphic designs. Each chapter begins with an elaborately designed first letter. And that's just the icing on the cake. The book is filled from cover to cover with incredible one- and two-page illustrations which capture the action in heroic detail. The men are all handsome and muscular, the women beautiful and fiery. The helmets, weapons and armour are painted with the kind of ornate frippery the Celts have always been famous for. Fitzpatrick does a fine job with landscapes and still poses, but he shines most masterfully in the action sequences. Time seems frozen in paintings where muscles ripple, iron glints, hair flows and birds' wings beat against the sky. Find The Book of Conquests and give it a treasured place in your Celtic collection. You won't regret it.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

Buy it from Amazon.com.

Visit Jim Fitzpatrick's website to see more of his artwork.