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Patrick: Son of Ireland

Patrick: Son of Ireland

4.1 21
by Stephen R. Lawhead, Steve Lawhead

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Slave, soldier, lover, hero, saint,—his life mirrored the cataclysmic world into which he was born. His memory will outlast the ages.

Born of a noble Welsh family, he is violently torn from his home by Irish raiders at age sixteen and sold as a slave to a brutal wilderness king. Rescued by the king's druids from almost certain


Slave, soldier, lover, hero, saint,—his life mirrored the cataclysmic world into which he was born. His memory will outlast the ages.

Born of a noble Welsh family, he is violently torn from his home by Irish raiders at age sixteen and sold as a slave to a brutal wilderness king. Rescued by the king's druids from almost certain death, he learns the arts of healing and song, and the mystical ways of a secretive order whose teachings tantalize with hints at a deeper wisdom. Yet young Succat Morgannwg cannot rest until he sheds the strangling yoke of slavery and returns to his homeland across the sea. He pursues his dream of freedom through horrific war and shattering tragedy—through great love and greater loss—from a dying, decimated Wales to the bloody battlefields of Gaul to the fading majesty of Rome. And in the twilight of a once-supreme empire, he is transformed yet again by divine hand and a passionate vision of "truth against the world," accepting the name that will one day become legend . . . Patricius!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Devotees of prolific historical novelist Lawton (The Iron Lance) will enjoy this picaresque, which follows the legendary eponymous Irish saint through the "lost years" between his escape from slavery and his missionary work in Ireland. Though Succat, the hero, does not receive his more familiar name until late in the story and doesn't encounter even a single snake, he blazes a thrilling-and meticulously researched-trail across the Holy Roman Empire. Succat, the son of a Christian family of well-to-do fifth-century Britons, is captured by Irish raiders and sent to Ireland as a slave. After years of brutal conditions, he manages to escape. Having lost his faith in the Christian God while a slave, Succat studies druid theology and lives in a home with other druids, who give him the name "Patrick," Celtic for nobleman. He eventually returns to Britain; serves for a while as an assistant to Bishop Cornelius, who helps him find his faith again; studies in Gaul; and goes on to Rome, where he becomes a city official, marries and has a daughter. Yet Patrick is haunted by his memories of Ireland and comes to believe that he has a special mission there: to convert the Irish people to Christianity. His triumphant return changes the history of Eire. Lawhead wisely keeps the fantasy and folklore to a minimum and never grants Succat superhuman qualities. Patrick is unfailingly sympathetic and believable, and his story of losing and finding faith will resonate with a wide spectrum of readers. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Lawhead attempts to reclaim the lost years of the legendary Saint Patrick's life, from his escape from slavery to his life in the dwindling Holy Roman Empire and his eventual return to Ireland. Born Maewyn Succat, Patrick has a good life as the son of a fifth-century noble Briton. When captured by marauding Irish raiders, he is forced into slavery in Eire, and he must endure a brutal life. His ultimate escape finds him a broken man, devoid of faith. He finds shelter first with the Druids and then with Bishop Cornelius in Britain. Between the two, he ultimately regains his faith and finds his way back to his birthright of Christianity. His subsequent life in Rome, where he marries and has a daughter, finds him haunted by dreams of Ireland, and he braves a rough journey to return and find his place back in the community of Eire and ultimately into the history books. Devoid of supernatural happenings and the snakes that Patrick is credited with driving out of Ireland, Lawhead's novel paints a compassionate and believable tale about a man regaining his faith. Filled with rich realism and believable characters, this first-person narrative will engage readers interested in the legend of Saint Patrick as well as those simply attracted to novels that investigate medieval culture. The few weak points can be forgiven as necessary for the character's development. Engaging action scenes and gripping dialogue keep the story flowing, while the novel's quiet themes maintain its depth. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2003, HarperCollins, 454p,
— Heather Hepler
Kirkus Reviews
A fictionalized biography of St. Patrick, circa a.d. 400, concentrating on the "lost years" of the famous Irish patriarch. The patron saint of Ireland was actually Welsh—real name, Succat of Morgannwg. The son of a noble landowning family loyal to the Romans, Patrick was raised a Christian and expected to succeed his father as lord of the manor. But Britain was a far-flung outpost of Rome, in constant danger of invasion by barbarian tribes, and it took a cohort of Irish raiders only one night to lay waste to his family’s estate and carry Patrick off to Ireland as a slave. There, in a land even wilder and more barbaric than Britain, Patrick herded sheep for seven years before he was able to escape and make his way home—leaving his wife, Sionan, behind. Reunited in Britain with his childhood friend Julian, now a priest, Patrick and Julian came to live in the home of Bishop Cornelius, serving the bishop as companion, guide, and translator. In Ireland, Patrick had studied the Druid religion and had even considered becoming a Druid bard, so he was able to explain Druid theology to the Christian missionaries who had been working with little success to convert the island. When he was captured by the Irish and lost his family and fortune, Patrick also lost his faith in the Christian God who had proven unable to save him, but Julian and Cornelius slowly work him back into the fold. Eventually, Patrick is willing not merely to forgive his Irish captors, but to work on their behalf by returning to them as a missionary—and the rest is history. A straightforward Celtic paperback yarn, but this one is blessedly short on the talking trees, magic swords, and warrior maidens that clutter upso many from Lawhead (Mystic Rose, 2001, etc.). Still, you’ll still need to be a serious Celt-ophile to get through it.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Son of Ireland: A Novel

Chapter One

Concessa Lavinia lived in fear of thieves carrying off her spoons. They were fine spoons. Each teardrop-shaped bowl was a masterpiece of smithery balanced on a long, elegant handle capped by a tiny Corinthian finial: eight in all, and older than Elijah. Our silver -- the spoons and matching plate, an enormous bowl, and two large ewers -- was old and costly; it had come from Rome sometime in the dusty past, handed mother to daughter longer than anyone could remember.

My mother's treasured silver held pride of place on the black walnut table in the banqueting hall: a large, handsome room with a vaulted ceiling and a floor that featured a mosaic depicting Bellerophon riding the winged horse Pegasus and killing the Chimera with a flaming spear. This scene occupied the center of the room and was surrounded by a circular braidwork border picked out in red, black, white, and brown tesserae and, in each corner of the room, a likeness of one of the Four Seasons.

On frigid winter evenings I would lie on my stomach on that wonderful mosaic and feel the delicious warmth seeping up from the hypocaust beneath. The floor above the hall was given to sleeping rooms for ourselves and those few servants my mother would suffer to abide in the house.

Our villa was called Favere Mundi, an apt name for one of the most pleasant places in the whole of our island realm. It was built in the traditional manner: a low, hollow square with a red-tiled roof surrounding a central courtyard that contained a pear tree, a fountain, and a statue of Jupiter in repose. As a child I thought the statue bore the likeness of my grandfather. Scarcely a day went by that I did not run to greet the image. "Hail, Potitus!" I would cry and smack the carved marble limbs with my hands to make him take note of me. But the frozen, sightless gaze remained fixed on higher things, perpetually beyond heed of the merely mortal and mundane.

Two long wings on either side of the enclosed square contained the workrooms: one each for wood, leather, and cloth and one where our candles, lamps, and rushlights were made. Between the wings rose the main section of the house, comprising two floors; the lower floor was given almost entirely to the great hall, and the upper opened onto a roofed gallery which overlooked the court.

Like my father before me, I was born in my grandfather's house. We were wealthy people, noble Britons, and our villa near Bannavem Taburniae lacked for nothing. Sixty families lived on our estate and worked our lands. We grew grain to sell in the markets of Maridunum, Corinium, and Londinium; we raised cattle and sold to the northern garrisons -- Eboracum and beyond; we bred horses for the ala, the mounted auxiliary of the legions. Harvests were bountiful; the land prospered; our labor was rewarded a hundredfold.

Wine from Aquitania, woven cloth from Thracia, Neapolitan glass, Macedonian olives, pepper, oil -- all these things and very much more were ours. We lived well. No senator born in sight of the Palatine Hill lived better. It is but one of the many follies of luxury which lead men to believe that plenty now is abundance always and fortune is everlasting. Pure folly.

My grandfather was still alive when I was born. I remember white-haired Potitus, tall and straight, towering in his dark robes, striding with a face like thunder down the oak-lined avenue leading from our gate. He was a presbyter, a priest of the church -- not well liked, it must be said, for his stern demeanor frightened far more than it comforted, and he was not above smiting obstinate members of his flock with his silver-topped staff.

That aside, he was not overstrict in his observances, and no one ever complained about the length of his services. Unlike the tedious priests of Mithras and Minerva -- so careful, so exact, so smug in the enactment of their obscure rituals -- old Potitus saw no need to weary heaven with ceaseless ceremony or meaningless repetition. "God knows the cry of our hearts," he would say, "before it ever reaches our lips. So speak it out and have done with it. Then get about your business."

My father, Calpurnius, did just that. He got on with business. In this he displayed the remarkable good sense of his British mother and refused to follow his father into the priesthood. Industrious, ambitious, aggressive, and determined -- a man of little tolerance and less patience --hard-charging Calpurnius would have made a miserable cleric. Instead he married a high-born woman named Concessa Lavinia and enlarged our holdings exceedingly. Owing to his diligence and tireless labor, the increase in our family fortunes year by year was little short of miraculous. With wealth came responsibility, as he never ceased reminding me. He became a decurion, one of the chief councilmen for our little town -- a position which only served to increase his fortunes all the more, and this despite the taxes which rose higher and ever higher.

Invariably, after depositing his taxes in the town treasury, he would come home complaining. "Do we need so many servants?" he would say. "They eat more than cattle. What do they do all day?"

"Certainly we need them, you silly man," my mother would chide.

"Since you insist on spending dawn to dusk with your blessed council, who else does any work around here?"

There were perhaps only a dozen servants in all, but it was my mother's entire occupation to protect them from the sin of idleness. In this she excelled. Lavinia had all the natural gifts of a military commander, save gender alone. Had she been born a man, she might have conquered Africa.

Her sole weakness was myself. No doubt because I was the third of three infants and the only one to survive beyond the first year, she found it impossible to deny me anything.

Son of Ireland: A Novel
. Copyright © by Stephen Lawhead. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Stephen R. Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history and imaginative fiction. His works include Byzantium and the series The Pendragon Cycle, The Celtic Crusades, and The Song of Albion. Lawhead makes his home in Austria with his wife.

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Patrick 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best Stephen Lawhead books I have read, and I have read everything he's ever written. Even though I have heard some opinions to the contrary.

Still I would have to say there is nothing wrong with the story . . .save the fact that it won't loose its grasp upon the reader until he has read each and every line.

In Patrick, Lawhead tells an amazing story. And as the stories druids told of valour and honour, friendship and loss, great victories and great pain: they are there to inspire the reader and to help them remember what's important, to taste of something higher than themselves. And as positive as I am that it was no hardship to allow those stories of times past to change oneself; I am equally positive that it is as easy to let this story take its toll: to remind us to live. And of what is worth living for.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this very much. Lawhead describes the scenary and enviorns of Patricks time in a very visual way. However at the end of the book he makes a major leap from Patrick as druid to Patrick as priest without any explanation. The book needed a chapter with Patrick becoming a priest before the epilog. Overall a good historical-fiction read. I think he just got in a hurry to finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finished it. It was a bit dry and i disliked the main character which made it hard to read. I however did read all of ir so it must have been engaging
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ReaderWY More than 1 year ago
Patrick fell way short of my expectations. The title Patrick Son of Ireland made me think it was about Saint Patrick...but it isn't. Or, if it is, it is so fantasized it is hard to connect the character in the book with the Patrick of history. Even at the end of the book, there isn't a connection to tell the reader this character was Patrick. I also sensed in this book a bit of "formula writing". Reminiscent of the old western Zane Gray novels--the name of the main character changes, the place changes, but the journey is much the same. For the main character in this book (as in Byzantium...my first introduction to Lawhead) he begins as an aristocrat, is taken in slavery, beaten & mistreated, has a sexual relation, escapes, is extremely smart so is eventually lifted to wealth...ya, dee, dah. All in all, though well written, with Lawhead's vivid descriptive prose, I felt the plot was weak, and at times wandered.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The story of Saint Patrick is told here as a gripping adventure tale and spiritual odyssey. Succat, as he was first known, is captured by Irish raiders from his home in Roman Britain and enslaved for several brutal years before escaping back to his homeland. From there he embarks on an adventurous and harrowing journey, which ultimately leads him back to the land he feels is his true home. What is intriguing is the possibility that Christianity in Ireland had strong ties (through Patrick himself) with Druid mysticism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't know what the Kirkus reviewer is talking about! Having been reading Lawhead's books since 1984 I have never once encountered talking trees! Maybe he's confusing him with Tokien? Magic swords? Never appear in any Lawhead book. Warrior maidens? Well, considering that Celtic women fought alongside their men, that's to be expected, but there have been very few (I can think of 2) in the last 20 years of Lawhead's books! This person's prejudices aside, this is a great novel on the (speculative) life of Patrick. While I doubt it happened quite this way, the basic facts are all there. A Welshman kidnapped by Irish raiders, escapes, goes back to reach his former captors. As with a lot of Lawhead's books this is not great history, but it is great reading!!
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the year 400 AD Succat is having a fine time in the poor country of Wales because his father is a highborn noble. He and his friends are interested in wine, women and song until the raiders from Eire attack and take him back to their country as a slave. Now something more important to Succat other than women and wine is freedom. Three times he tries to escape with his last attempt he almost killing him, but thanks to the healing powers of the Druids he lives.

The Druids take him into their home and when his master dies. Succat finally manages to escape, leaving the woman he loves behind. When he returns to his homeland, the place is deserted as the Roman legions have gone. With no home to stay in Succat returns to the road once more but through all his travels he comes to realize his true place is in Eire and that he has an important mission to accomplish there.

Readers will recognize that the protagonist plays a vital role in the history of Ireland for he known to today as Patrick, a visionary of his time and Ireland¿s first saint. Stephen R. Lawhead is a grand storyteller and he is at is finest in this work. Readers will become immersed in this novel to the exclusion of everything else so give everyone a hug and set aside time to immerse one¿s self in a vividly enticing biographical historical fiction.

Harriet Klausner

Luminaria More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, I'd always heard that mixed with Lawhead's admirable storytelling skills were his so-called "amazing" research skills, that he had this "gift" of being able to mix history and fiction in a way that brought historical figures to life in a believable fashion. Now we are supposed to believe that one of the most beloved Christian bishops of all time, who was captured as a slave by Irish pirate bandits, taken from his home as a young boy, and went back to those pagans who enslaved him, to bring them the light of Christ, was really a druid priest? I haven't thrown too many books across the room but this one nearly made it.... I wanted to read about SAINT Patrick, not some mythical druid nonsense re-write. Thanks for something to line the bottom of the birdcage with...