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Midwest Review of Books, January 2013:

" Eirelan is the award-winning debut novel of author Liam O'Shiel. A work of "future historical fiction", set thousands of years after an unknown catastrophe has leveled today's modern, technology-driven infrastructure, Eirelan tells of ordinary people fighting to defend their homes and their livelihoods. As the Province of the Twenty Clans prepares to celebrate its millennium, a select few realize that the Province will have to change if it is to survive. Steeped in Irish culture and tradition, yet weaving its own original tale populated with conflicted characters, Eirelan is a captivating epic saga of the quest to not only survive, but also build and protect livelihoods worth living. Highly recommended."

Writer's Digest First-Place Award, Genre Novel 2012 - March 2013 issue.

Welsh Country Magazine, July-Aug. 2012

"Don't be put off by the size ... it takes time to get to know people. By the time I got to the final great battles ... I was on the edge of my seat. A rattling good read."

Click below for cover image and full review:

Welsh Country Cover

Welsh Country Review

ForeWord Clarion Review

Five Stars (out of Five)

"Fans of battles on land and sea, of anything Gaelic, or of scintillating, well-told tales won’t be disappointed."

Now that “doorstop” books are nearly commonplace, thanks to J. K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Susanna Clarke, and others, novels of this size are less likely to give potentialreaders pause. Liam O’Shiel presentsreaders with a century-long slide toward the dissolution of humanity during the latter part of the third millennium. Overburdened by reliance on machines, increased population, human-engineeredgenetic changes, global environmental shifts, collapsed political systems worldwide, humans are forced into feudal systems and other less organized forms of rule. Gaelic-speaking peoples, however, have been able to maintain their cultures and shape new political systems for themselves. In 2974, the Province of the Twenty Clans is formed to promote economic and political stability as well as mutual defense from other clans who have taken to brigandage to survive.

Eirelan focuses on Clan Laigain’s struggles to convince the other Province clans that war is coming on morethan one front. Liadan and Etain—two sisters who are clan leaders and political opponents—convey through their personal lives the Province’s efforts to keep their chosen way of life safe from those who would steal it. Liadan and her allies work for the Province’s survival while Etain seeksto wrest political power for herself and her progeny.

Such a large tapestry can easily become tangled or fall apart. Eirelan, even at 700 pages, never shows a sign of either. O’Shiel is a master storyteller. The novel’s main characters are vibrant, highly individualized people who will appeal to a wide range of readers. Their believability is bolstered by their complexity: the “good” characters have their flaws, and the“bad” ones aren’t completely evil. The dialogue is natural sounding and purposeful, the backstoryinformation deftly inserted, and the settingvivid and easily imagined. All of these elements hang upon a plot that is exciting, well-designed, and told in an effortless style.

Relationships drive the narrative, and bring readers into the characters’ public and private lives. Long-standing grudges, family secrets, romances, and the joys and sorrows of military life are interwoven with historical information in the form of quotes that openeach chapter. Throughout the novel, the history of Eirelan is conveyed through excerpts from historical records, personal journals, ships’ logs, and poetry.

The only problem readers may have with this book is the pronunciation of Gaelic names. Fortunately, help along these lines can be found on the Internet.

The best news for readers who enjoy this type of novel is that five more are planned for the series. Laterinstallments will include both prequels and sequels to Eirelan. Fans of battles on land and sea, of anything Gaelic, or of scintillating, well-told tales won’t be disappointed.

Kirkus Reviews:

"A rich, engaging epic."

A futuristic tale in which the people of Ireland wage war as if it were the Middle Ages.

Almost 2,000 years from now, humankind has long since abandoned the machines that nearly destroyed the Earth and has reverted to stateless, clan-based forms of government. In the Province of the Twenty Clans in southeastern Ireland, citizens generally lead simple lives filled with music, poetry, good food and strong ale. But they are under constant threat from raiders to the north, where unusually cold weather has shut down agricultural production and caused a famine. This enjoyable debut novel from O’Shiel—filled with battles involving swords, bows, catapults and wooden ships—could almost be mistaken for historical fiction set in the Middle Ages or earlier, if not for the enlightened attitudes about gender roles. O’Shiel introduces a host of well-developed major and minor characters, including Conor Laigain, a reluctant soldier who takes over command of the Province’s field army. Meanwhile, his fiancée Mairin Fotharta, a captain in the nearly all-female navy, sails four warships down to Santander, Spain, to fight alongside Cornish, Welsh and Breton allies. In between battles, libidos rage, love triangles form and friendships are tested. O’Shiel writes with charm and conviction that makes the work stand out from other similarly grandiose works of fantasy. A rich, engaging epic.

Goodreads Reviews:

[47 ratings, 30 reviews - see]

I won this on a book giveaway and I was a little apprehensive at first. But after I got into it, I was hooked. The lives of several different people, all connected in some way yet separate in their own right was enough story to immerse me into the world of Eirelan.

This book is beautifully written, in my opinion and I definitely cannot wait for the next one now.


This book is set in the future - however people have forsaken technology, and so they live in times that look a bit like the Middle Ages. The story revolves around the war and its effects on the people surrounding it.

The author has created some very lovable characters. Although the book is long in length, it doesn't feel as long at it is because each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character, which keeps the story fresh and gives the reader interesting viewpoints on shared experiences. The author brings up a number of ethical dilemmas which the characters face and it leads the reader to reflect on the nature of right and wrong. There is also an interesting exposition of the role of women in society. Overall I found the story very engaging and enjoyed it thoroughly.


I approached Eirelan's near 800 pages with some trepidation. As an Early Reviewer win I knew I would feel obligated to complete it and make an assessment, however it felt like a book I may be interested in and I hoped it wouldn't be a chore.

I need not have been concerned; Eirelan is a fabulous page turner, epic in scope, beautifully crafted and skillfully structured to maintain the reader's attention.

It takes an enormous leap of imagination though to pitch a story 4000 years in the future and make it completely devoid of any science fiction. In fact O'Shiel has written a medieval drama and by setting it in a future era so far away from any scope of existing expectations he has cleverly avoided being burdened by any need for historical references which may bear scrutiny. We hear vaguely of 'the age of machines' yet it is left entirely to the reader to interpret how or when catastrophe fell and a new world order emerged which resembled that which we hear of in history books. Eirelan is a country we know as Ireland which is partitioned into The Province, a rural, heathen, haven, and the world outside its ramparts made up of crumbling cities to which the old Church still holds sway.

Once you get past some oddly fanciful scene setting of nautical terminology, cosy games of poker, pub lunches, Irish stew, and pints of stout, you are thrown into a world of warriors, clans, and feuds, families and lovers, politics, and fierce battles on land and at sea.

Belief suspended, the story telling comes to the fore and O'Shiel creates characters to believe in, varied and complex, human and troubled, real and easy to relate to and come to know.

The people of The Province have endured attacks for centuries which have reached a critical point at which survival of their way of life is threatened for good. Concurrent battles need to be fought and won against enemies at home and abroad, and for which old adversaries are needed to be become allies to withstand the onslaught from common enemies. O'Shiel uses a deep knowledge of nautical matters to good effect without alienating a reader rooted to the land and whose only experience of the sea around Eirelan is the 'vomit comet' trips from Holyhead to Dublin, 1960s style.

In O'Shiel's Eirelan women and men are equal in the family, in politics and in armed service. It is the women in the main that command the warships, and women fight skillfully and doggedly amongst the Blades and the Bows. No guns here, only swords, armour, pikes, maces, and arrows which are used to brutal effect.

The stories and relationships within the story are well woven and flow seamlessly such that it would be easy to imagine Eirelan as a blockbuster movie or serious TV drama series.

At no point in the near 800 pages did I find myself struggling or wishing the book to end, indeed I am looking forward to the author's promised second installment and to enjoying the company of Connor, Oran, Feth, Mairan, Aideen, and their families, friends and comrades once again.


As a fan of historical fiction, I found Eirelan to be an exciting, action packed novel unfolded during a future time but with parallels to the past.The book is filled with action and family dynamics. I eagerly anticipated each new chapter and what was to unfold.I am looking forward to the sequel.


I was rather impressed by the cover and size of the book. A little intimidated too, I confess, but what a journey these page took me on! When I first got going with it, I was a little irritated by things that didn't make sense. As I got further engrossed in the story I discovered why. This book is set approximately 2000 years in the future! What a great idea! I like the way things seam to have gone back in time, from how we are now (in the Age of Machines) to Middle Ageish, but better. I really enjoyed how the story moved forwards by spending personal time with each of the main characters. We always had to leave them when I wasn't ready. Then, thankfully rejoining them later where we'd last left them,so all the blanks were filled in. Great story telling, on an epic scale (along the same lines as Wilbur Smith). I eagerly await further installments!


This was a truly epic read. I would have actually given this 4.5 stars but because it was so well written I rounded up to 5. This is the epic story set 1000 years after the Age of Machines in Ireland. The Twenty Clans are fighting for the very survival against clans to the north as well as enemies across the sea in Spain. This story is woven together, layer upon layer, and is filled with characters that are brought to life and full of complexities. We see not only the war and the struggles that they face with their enemies, but also the struggles of their day to day lives. Not only do we see this story from the perspective of the Twenty Clans, we are also given a glimpse of life from the perspective of their enemies. We see how hard life is for the people that live to the north of them and what motivates them to try to invade. We see leftovers of our own culture and politics and how it is still influencing wars and control. In the midst of all this we learn of their past, which is our present. How the Age of Machines drew to a close as technology became our destruction as well as the damage left to the environment. This leaves a civilization essentially as it was in the Middle Ages with travel by ships and horses and war with swords and the bow, but set amidst the ruin of great cities of today. One thing that would have made this work even better would have been the inclusion of a map. I would have loved to been able to better visualize the location of towns as well as where the allies and enemies of the Twenty Clans were situated. This is quite a large book (almost 800pgs) and a bit daunting at first glance but it is very well written and keeps you interested til the very end. There are places that are a bit descriptive and while the story does benefits from such passages with this being such a lengthy read I could have done without them. Overall, I loved this book and am looking forward to the next in this series.


Reviews are ultimately solely subjective and I give this work of art a solid 4.5 stars. I do not give it a 5 but only because it is not my top genre. I really, really enjoyed the book. I think the author is brilliant. His character development leaves me completely sat...more. The action is gripping and exciting. I think Liam O'Shiel's 'Eirelan' is outstanding. I look forward to the continuation of the saga.


This book was amazingly written. The story is extraordinarily written. The characters capture the reader’s attention and heart. Would recommend this to all of my friends. If you want a story worth spending your free time reading, this is the one to choose.


I love dramas like this book. Lots of description and action. Took my breath away in places. Thank you so much for sharing.


The book is quite big but it keeps you interested and lots of action.


Set eighteen centuries into the future of Ireland, this is a well thought out lengthy work of possibility. It’s a future where war is commonplace and technology has regressed to sailing ships, bows, and swords; machines are nonexistent. The tale follows events in the Province of the Twenty Clans, a nation state in southeastern Ireland, and the fates of its leaders and their families. This portion of the province creed gives an insightful glimpse into their culture: “In our hearts we value our fellow man, hate no one, take from no one, rule over no one. With our minds we see that all life is a mystery, and death a part of the unending cycle of the world. We fight as we must, to defend our right to live and partake of the wonders of the earth.”

At the start of each chapter is a short piece of writing, typically a journal entry, letter or poem written by one characters. I loved these parts as it often gave great insights into the characters. The characters in the book are excellent, they have realistic and interesting personalities. Some are adventurous or career ambitious others are more thoughtful and want a quiet life. The thoughts and feelings that they have are very well written. The relationships they all have is written excellently, some of them get on very well, others do not, but all are handled well and realistically. I especially enjoyed the relationship between Conor and his aide Bradaigh. The grief the characters face over the death of comrades, friends and family is very well written. As well as the fears they have for their comrades, friends and those serving under them during the pre-battle sequences. Overall I enjoyed this book, especially the characters and the second half of the story. I am looking forward to this books sequel.

Amazon Reviews:

5.0 out of 5 stars, If this had been an assignment everyone might have failed. But unlike Lehman Brothers, Eire has too much going for it -- the highest quality, for instance. An artist like O'Shiel doesn't come along every day. A reader like me finds it hard to embrace this huge endeavor. But O'Shiel has invited us to try it.

Even such a thing as face-to-face combat has brought something to my senses that I may never have felt before. Never again will I think that nuclear warfare is worse than death by club, spear and sword. That's a tiny part of this thing. O'Shiel's people are living four thousand years in the future, but fighting their enemies with prehistoric weapons. This is just one example of how O'Shiel shows that some humans never truly learn about things of the heart.

This book is too big for me to grade, but I think it's well worth the effort.

5.0 out of 5 stars, I completely loved this book. It took a few chapters to get used to the idea that it took place far in the future, because of the medieval type of life that is taking place. They're not primitive by any means- they have all the comforts, but in a more simple form with no technology. The characters are so well developed, the story is well developed, it's an overall excellent read.

4.0 out of 5 stars, Credit for Eirelan should go to the muse of fire that ascends the brightest heaven of invention. O'Shiel's book is ambitious and astonishingly imaginative. He takes us to a world two thousand years in the future but to places very real today---Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and Brittany among them. The author is well-acquainted with the maps and charts. His Eirelan people are fighting a deteriorating climate and growing enemies with technology they remember from the distant past, deliberately excluding gunpowder. Men and women fight together against Eirelan's enemies, relying on spears and long-bows. At sea the women of Eirelan command and sail the ships. Patrick O'Brian would approve their battles against storms and enemies, though he would miss Jack Aubrey's ship-shattering broadsides. Eirelan is longer than War and Peace but in some respects can bear the comparison. The book's many characters are fully developed, and the persevering reader begins to care about them. O'Shiel must be something of a gourmet. Occasionally he over-describes dinners and banquets, but the same criticism has been made against Dickens.

5.0 out of 5 stars, A Wonderfully Compelling Work of Alternate History, By White Eagle - I have to admit, up front, that I am usually not inclined to read fiction. But I am interested in history. "Eirelan" combines elements of historical narrative with an intriguing premise into a thought-provoking and entertaining story that will thrill any reader. The characters are masterfully developed and interconnected within an unusual setting that allows for exciting combat, political intrigue and romance. The author's writing style is clear and fluid. The end of each chapter tends to entice the reader to the next. I encourage all to buy "Eirelan" and enter a new realm of reading enjoyment.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Strongly Recommend, By Radar Reader - This epic-scaled novel echoes the history of the early warring clans of Ireland, but in a post-cataclysmic future. Clans have banded together again to fight for their survival with bows, arrows, knives and swords. The book brims with characters whose bravery, strength, and loyalty are tested, pulling the reader into a complex world of social and personal life and the values that help people endure. This book was particularly well-researched and would be of particular interest to readers drawn to legendary or heroic tales.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Unique Work of Fiction, By Maryland Mom - I stumbled on this novel it while searching for books on Celtic subjects and decided to give it a try (print copy). Enjoyable from beginning to end. It takes awhile to get oriented in the story - using the books's website ( proved to be a big help. It's a complex tale set in a world very different from today. People have less and expect less out of life. But they value things like poetry and music and friendship. Many strong characters, more than half of them women, which appealed to me. Nothing ugly or explicit so it can be read by younger readers. Highly recommend.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Eirelan, By Gloria W. - I was hooked on this story from page one. The way the author included our present day history into their past, I thought was brilliant. The conflict of the 20 clans and the reason for it was a great surprise. If you like great story telling, this is definitely the book to read. The only thing I would recommend is a glossary for those of us who do not know the correct pronunciation of some of the names of the characters. I am eagerly waiting for the second installment. Bravo Mr. O'Shiel.

5.0 out of 5 stars, Great storytelling! By Rufusrun - Eirelan quickly absorbed me into its world of many characters. It is a great story. The reader begins to feel a part of this world and wants to know what will happen next. I am recommending it to my teen age son. Although long, it reads quickly and draws the reader in, somewhat like current reality shows, while learning about another world and culture and at the same time, thinking about what the future might bring.