‘The Copper Crown’, the first book of the ‘Keltiad’, is about space-faring Celts (or Kelts) who left Earth centuries ago to find a new home. It sounds silly, but it’s really very enjoyable, and Patricia Kennealy pulls of the integration of magic and very traditional elements (castles and swords and knights!) with spaceships so that when you’re reading it, it doesn’t seem odd.

From: Amazon.com

When I picked up ‘The Copper Crown’ I was told it was quite a difficult book to read – the pronunciations of the names are somewhat counter intuitive and there’s a lot of unfamiliar titles. Of course, you can pronounce the names however you like, and there is a pronunciation guide at the front of the book if you’re picky about such things. Once I finished the book I realized at the end there was a description of the history of the world and many of the organizations and titles in the book. So if you find it difficult with all the ‘Taoiseach’ and have no clue who the ‘Kin to the Dragon’ are, you can always flick to the back of the book and read a brief description. I don’t think this is necessary though, and the book might even be more enjoyable just trying to figure this stuff out on your own.

As well as creating an interesting world, Patricia Kennealy writes very well. Fantasy books are full of giant castles and fancy ballrooms, however Kennealy really gets across the magnificence of her castles by focusing on the reactions of the people who see them. I can’t remember another book where I found a castle to be so impressive and awe-inspiring. Her descriptions of the rest of the world are just as good; I’ve read a lot of descriptions of thunderstorms but I can’t remember the last time I read a description that actually felt different to all the others I’ve read before.

The story, while familiar, was engaging and exciting. I can’t say I became overly attached to any of the characters, but the quality of the writing, the interesting world and the excitement of the plot were good enough that I don’t really consider that much of an issue.

I very much enjoyed the writing in this book (that was probably my favourite part, above the actual story), and I’m hoping to read the others. It’s an oldish book (1986), and it took me a while to find it (I had to have it delivered from overseas, which took a few months), so I might have to wait a while before I can read the next book in the series.