Title: Flame Over Tara
Author: Madeleine Polland
Major Themes: Saint Patrick, Ireland
Synopsis: When Patrick brings the gospel to Ireland, he must win the approval of the High King, Leary, in order for his mission to succeed.
Flame Over Tara is a delightful story about Saint Patrick’s arrival in Ireland. Madeleine Polland seems to have a gift for making the past come to life. The last half of the book, especially, is gripping. I read the last three chapters aloud in one long marathon; we couldn’t wait any longer to find out how the story turned out!
Macha has grown up in the home of her father’s cousin, as a foster child to help tie the families together. Now that she is nearly old enough for marriage, her father calls her home. That evening, a man wearing a “golden adze” on his head comes in from the sea. He tells a wonderful story about his God, and very soon Macha’s foster brother goes with the man, Patrick, as he seeks a place to begin his mission. Macha badly wants to go along, too, and when she cannot get permission to go, she disguises herself and goes anyway. This nearly causes a war in Ireland. Over the next year, Macha lives in confusion, and Patrick prepares to conquer the Druids, using the weapons his God gives him to fight against their magic.
This isn’t quite my favorite book about Patrick; Let Me Die in Ireland is even better. That being said, however, Flame Over Tara is an unforgettable picture of the conflict caused by the gospel being brought to Ireland.
WARNING: A man is burned to death in chapter 16.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12