Brian Boru: The Warrior King

Father and daughter duo John and Fatti Burke present the second in their series of biographies for children, each one focusing on an influential person from Irish history. This book tells the story of Clare man Brian Boru, the son of Cennétig chieftain of the Dál gCais clan, who at the age of twelve lost his parents during a Viking raid, a traumatic event  which sparked a determination to become a soldier and rid Ireland of the violent Norsemen.

With text by John Burke, this retelling of Boru’s life is done in an exciting and captivating manner. Short paragraphs are written in language that simplifies this complex tale of loss, determination and strength. The now-familiar style of Fatti Burke’s illustrations gives a playful visual context to the story. Full-page scenes provide a backdrop to the brief pieces of text, making this as much a picturebook as it is non-fiction material. The mainly outdoor scenes are painted in a palette of greens, blues and browns, offering an authentic Irish atmosphere to the landscapes.

Children will enjoy this tale, and no doubt get caught up in the drama of Viking Ireland. It would be a great way to introduce that period of history to young readers without having to use the heavy language of a text book. The story finishes with a handy timeline and a selection of fascinating facts highlighting the lasting influence of Brian Boru, some of which may come as an interesting surprise!