The Raid: A Dramatic Retelling of Ireland’s Epic Tale

Written by Randy Lee Eickhoff
Review by Ilysa Magnus

Eickhoff has taken on the mammoth task of “dramatically” retelling the story of Ireland, the Tain Bo Cualigne, in several books being published by Forge, The Raid being the first installment. Although I had a problem defining the genre (translation or not?), the ultimate result is a new and different telling of the oft-magical and symbolic adventures which instill life into Irish myth.

The battle between Connacht and Ulster rages on. The Red Branch of Ulster is dreadfully unprepared to defend its land. It is by the hand of a mighty boy-warrior, Cuchulainn, standing alone against the forces of Connacht, that Ulster survives. In this willful, courageous stand against invasion, Eickhoff sees mirrored Ireland’s stand against England in its war for independence.

Eickhoff tolerates no prudery, though the versions of others (like Lady Gregory in her Red Branch translation) are largely censored. The stories are bawdy, the language as plain and as real as it could ever be. For anyone interested in Celtic folklore and storytelling, this is the very stuff of what Irish myth is made.