Sharan Newman’s acclaimed first novel, The Dagda’s Harp, written for young adults, is a fresh and beautiful interpretation of the classic Irish myth. Upon its publication in 1976, the Philadelphia Children’s Reading Round Table selected it as its Book of the Month.
This is the story of Michael, a young Druid apprentice and his quest for a lost harp which will save his homeland, Ierne, from conquest by the evil Formorians.
Michael’s childhood friend, Shana, is of the immortal race of Tuatha, sworn enemies of the Formorians. They are guided by Broga, a tiny, pipe playing Lipricanni, to a strange and mysterious lake where they meet the boastful centurion, Colinus. At the home of Michael’s warrior father, they meet Patrik, an educated Christian slave, who will help them look for the harp.
They encounter many strange enchantments on their journey, including the fearsome Maebdh, queen of the Formorians and Michael’s stepmother. But it is at the great battle of Magh Tuiregh that the group discovers the true power of the Dagda’s Harp and the heroism that is necessary for good to triumph over evil.
“The Author has created her lusty romance on ancient Irish legends. It’s an artful evocation of times when magic-benign and baneful- was taken for granted. The lad Michael is a reluctant druid apprentice. But he’s urged into derring-do when the plight of Shana and her mother are revealed to him. They had been taken in by Michael’s people by order of the chief Druid, Proinsas, when they had fled from the wicked Formorians. Proisnas now asks for Michael’s help, a quest for Shana’s uncle and the mysterious, supernatural harp of Dagda, ruler of the underworld. The young man literally goes through fire to save his people and his honor. It would be hard to find a more pleasurable way to spend a couple of hours than in the company of the romantic characters celebrated in Sharan Newman’s story. (12 and up)” —Publishers Weekly
“Her well planned structure, fully drawn characters and suspenseful narrative become a colorful cornucopia bursting with the unpicked fruit of Gaelic mythology…Ms. Newman’s story can be enjoyed equally by parents and their young alike, especially if they are of Irish descent and want to understand Ireland’s cultural legacy. This book really excited me.” —Eleanor Eby, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Newman has faceted a well paced story with more dialogue, which will appeal to children not as versed in the fantasy realms.” —Booklist