What’s it about?
What’s the book about?
Mostly about Arthur McClean. After his father died he was uprooted from his comfortable city life. And landed on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Far from any real town. No channels on the TV. And only deadly silence at night. He found himself mainly in the company of dogs, calves, and a wild and strange uncle called Connie. And occasionally meeting some of Connie’s even stranger friends.
He started to get used to Connie. Connie treated nothing seriously. But then Connie was taken away from him too. Not dead though. Away to jail for obstructing a government man who was prying around the farm. What the man might have been looking for remains a mystery.
Arthur is trying to help keep the farm going so everything will still be running when Connie gets out. His mother is working all day, leaving Arthur alone till night time.
But things are not going very well for Arthur. He hadn’t talked much to anyone since his father went. At the local school, one of his teachers, Ms. Sullivan, and his principal Magill, make his situation worse. Arthur just doesn’t want to be anywhere much. He’s been nicknamed ‘The Dark’ by friends at school.
Then one night he starts visiting the forbidden place. A rath in the bog field that he had been warned against. Arthur had no knowledge of the little people or of the dangers that might await him in a fairy fort. Although his welcome isn’t always entirely warm, for luck the little people at least tolerate his intrusion into their world.
In the rath he meets the Old Man. And he receives a passage to another time – invited to travel upon the words of the Old Man to witness some great events and some not so great. Fionn MacCumhaill is always at hand in these times. Along with his old friends. His most trusted ally, the loud joking mountain man Conán MacLiath, is ever present.
He also gets to meet other sorts. The worst, the best, and the in between. Saile, reveals himself as a particularly bad element. Another Arthur, from a neighbouring land, turns out to be nasty and low. He sees how a foreign invasion was made to fail. And how a demon queen held control over a faraway people. Arthur also meets ancient Saileach, the half sister of the Banshee. He sees the happiest lúdramán, the saddest young soldier, the ugliest little fear dearg, the tamest giants, the most ferocious ‘air soldiers’, and a few other odd characters besides.
As other things start to unwind in his life, the visits to the rath become everything. The farm is not going so well. He is trying to keep from his Mam, any information that he thinks would worry her more. A slimy neighbour called Trevor Saltee is trying to get his hands on the farm. As time goes on, things in Arthur’s present world become more than he can bear. He is becoming ever more alienated by school life. He is upset by the expulsion of a friend. Dreoilín the old druid he met in the rath has given him the gift not to care about school or any of that stuff. So he goes fishing most days instead of staying in school. And when he does stay at school he usually has no books. Everthing starts to overwhelm him. On the day that all this starts to fall apart, he goes to the rath again. He doesn’t want to come out of it. The Old Man transports him away as usual.