by Alan Rapp on December 20, 2005

in Uncategorized

Stephen Lawhead has written one of the best King Arthur series in recent memory and the wonderful Song of Albion trilogy.  His latest historical novel examines the early life of the man who would grow up to be the Irish saint Patrick.

Patrick: Son of Ireland
3 Stars

I’ve been a fan of Stephen Lawhead since I read his Pendragon Trilogy (which has had three books added to it and is now referred to as the Pendragon Cycle) years ago.  Lawhead understands how to fit events into a specific time period and describe them in a way in which you are really there.  His latest Patrick examines the early life of a young Briton sold into slavery in Ireland who would eventually become the Irish saint Patrick.

Succat is a spoiled young noble who enjoys spending his father’s money, drinking, gambling and whoring with his three good friends at the local tavern, and avoiding any responsibility.  When the town is sacked by Irish raiders Succat is taken prisoner and sold overseas to an Irish King.  From noble man to slave, Succat is given the job shepherding the sheep.  For seven years he fights to survive.  Two unsuccessful escape attempt leave him bloodied and near death.  Only through the friendship of a Druid does Succat realize a chance to find his freedom by becoming a bard.

The book chronicles Succat’s tale through his time as a slave, his training by the druid priests and his eventual freedom and travel to Gaul and Rome and his own internal struggle and trying to find his place in the world.  His journey leads him through the life of a slave, a soldier, a trader, a husband and father, and a druid.  Lawhead’s main character is complex in his selfish needs, plotting, and deviousness and betrayal as a slave who wants nothing more than to escape to a home that no longer exists. 

As with Lawhead later works there are strong religious themes though the book is more accessible than his Celtic Crusades.  An interesting and winding tale that spans many years and locations all described in exacting detail by the author.


Lawhead’s ability to recreate the historic time period and specific locations is very much in evidence here as Succat’s travels take him around the known world.  Though not his best work, I would love to see him return to the more mythical books like the Song of Albion trilogy, it’s a good read for fans of historical novels and of Lawhead’s work.

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