1. Of the Great and half-Great
  2. A Meeting on Knockmany
  3. To the Black Loch
  4. The Battle of Knockmany
  5. The Banshee’s Song
  6. The Necromancer
  7. The Maudlin Vale
  8. The Canyon of Heroes
  9. Thunder on the Plain

What to look for in this chapter

The chapter begins with mention of Gogmagog, King of the Giants, and ends with a reference to the Little King Across the Sea.  These characters represent the pinnacle of each of their races (Giants and mortal men, respectively), with Finn the half-Great squarely between them.  The conflict between the Great and small – manifested within Finn himself – is central to this book and the rest of the series.

Ymir and the Frost Giants are creatures from Norse mythology.  The Fomorians, meanwhile, are villainous folk of Irish lore.  The terms ‘Frost Giant’ and ‘Fomorian’ have been made synonymous to refer to the huge and cruel beings that ruled Albion before the arrival of the Great Ones (Giants proper).

Ymir mentions his own sons to Cuhail, calling them strong but brutish.  Although Ymir has pegged his children incorrectly (both are strong but only one is brutish), this exchange evinces the notion of legacy, tradition and family that is important to Giants and Frost Giants alike.

The Ice Spider emerging from his cave frightens the Frost Giants and allows Muirne to escape.  Though he is the most feared monster upon the land, the Spider is a sensitive soul (‘Invincible but not invulnerable’ is how he describes himself).  Later in the series, the Ice Spider himself relates to Finn how he guided his mother to safety.

The imparting of Fintan’s wisdom to Finn, through the burning of his thumb on the salmon, is an ancient Irish fable.  Its treatment here is fairly consistent with other versions.

Dunbar, whose men block Finn’s path on the way to Tara, is the grieving father of a boy accidentally killed by a Giant (The Maudlin Vale).  When we see Dunbar here, the death of his son is only a few years’ past and he and his fellows are roving about Albion in search of Giants to kill.  To their frustration, they discover all the Great Ones are asleep.  Later, Jack in the Green gives this band of ragged men renewed wealth and focus, appointing Dunbar Chief Giant-Killer in Eire.

The harp that Finn hears being played at Tara – and which he wrests from the timid Aillen – is the same one represented on the banners atop the tower and over Cuhail’s statue.  This harp is an object of tremendous power, claimed as a symbol by all denizens of Eire.  Aillen states truthfully that he found it in the river Boann.  What few in Eire understand is that the harp had been left there carelessly by the Dagda, King of the Gods, and it is rightly his property.  As we see in this book and throughout the series, the harp can be used for good or ill.

Aillen’s ability to hide from view, and Finn’s finding of him by magical means, is significantly similar to the half-Great’s fight with Jack in the Green (Thunder on the Plain).  As more is revealed about Jack and his origins through the series, the reasons for this similarity will become clear.

The building of the Giant’s Causeway is another staple of Irish mythology and there are many versions pertaining to Finn McCool.  This treatment, wherein Finn is trying to get to Ymir for purposes of revenge, is a novel one.  The Giant’s Causeway, a formation of hexagonal stones reaching out into the sea, is a major tourist attraction in the North of Ireland.

The blue jewel that Aillen takes from Ymir’s treasure trove is a thing too valuable to possess.  It cannot be sold, since no one could fairly afford its price, but neither can it be given away without much sorrow.  It is a beautiful thing with a devil inside, able to bring joy in the short-term but wicked over time.  Readers who are reminded of the cursed Hope Diamond will not be far off the mark.

The sudden departure of the Garuda from its duel with Goll can be attributed to Durriken’s bird call on the Isle of Mannin centuries later (The Necromancer).  Such instances of asynchronous time (see also, Cuhail in the waterfall in The Canyon of Heroes) occur throughout the series and they inform the theme that all dimensions – time included – are relative.  To wit, while Finn may seem large in the secluded valley of Moyle, he is the smallest of his fellows.  By the same token, creatures of wisdom may see time as a painting, where any given moment is just a corner of the canvas, and it is a matter of choice where to look.  ‘Now’ can be ‘then,’ depending on whom you ask.  Usually, this wisdom is only acquired after death, and this in part explains why Durriken, a necromancer, is so well-versed in it.

As noted, the chapter ends with a reference to the Little King Across the Sea.  The naming of this character speaks directly to the concept of relativity noted above.  Arthurian legend speaks of the Great King Across the Sea, in reference to Arthur’s return.  Whether a king is Great or little is, of course, a relative question, and the Giants certainly have their view of the king of men.  Readers who loosely relate Artek – which is the Little King’s proper name – to Arthur should congratulate themselves on their perspicacity. 

What to look for in this chapter

The rivalry between Finn and Cuhullin has several versions in Irish mythology.  In some tellings, Finn builds the Causeway for the sole purpose of crossing to Scotland to fight the Giant; in others, Finn leaves the job unfinished when he approaches the Scottish shore and sees Cuhullin is too large for a quarrel.  Oonagh’s tricking of the Giant into eating rocks and frying pans is a well-known children’s fable.  Finn and Cuhullin’s second contest (at the river) is a novel aspect, as is the subsequent friendship between the two.

At this point, Finn is in his fifth century.  Although Oonagh is mortal, she ages very slowly and the lifespan of her people – the Branwyn – is similar to that of such Old Testament figures as Methuselah.  Other mortals in the book and series (e.g., Finegas, Dunbar, et al.) evince the same longevity.

The Tengu is a mischievous bird with origins in Japanese legend.  In this incarnation, they are fine flyers and matchless troublemakers.  Their eyes sparkle when they are up to something, which is not seldom.

Cyclops’ appear in the mythology of many cultures, and they commonly possess some form of prophetic power.  One of Iskander’s first remarks about himself is that he has ‘second sight,’ and this is accepted wisdom among the Giants.  Indeed, the theme of vision pertains strongly to Iskander, and it is a sign of things to come that he is benighted by the snake Finn flings. 

Finn’s hounds, Bran and Skolawn, are fixtures of the Fenian Cycle.  Some tellings render them as spirits of Finn’s ancestors and relatives in dog form.  In this book and series, they are simply his beloved creatures, and that is enough.

The Giant’s Ring holds a place in both Irish and Arthurian legend, generally in reference to what we know as Stonehenge on Salisbury Plain in England.  The story goes that Arthur’s wizard Merlin steals the Giant’s Ring from Mount Killaraus in Ireland, bringing the stones to rest in their current location.  The location of Mount Killaraus has been debated, with some versions placing the mountain in County Kildare, while others suggest County Antrim.  The latter is the location chosen for this book and series and a tourist attraction called Giant’s Ring remains there to this day.

The Bolster Giant is spoken of in Cornish legend, often in reference to St. Agnes.  Some versions describe the Bolster as being able to cross six miles in a single stride, and standing twelve miles high.  The Bolster of this book and series is nowhere near that size, but he is huge, indeed.

Readers who note that Jack in the Green is strongly reminiscent of the Jack of beanstalk fame are doing rather well.  In addition, Jack the Giant-Killer is a somewhat psychopathic figure from British folklore who strongly informs the character of this series.

The Great Hag, or Harridan, whose job it is to stop up the spring atop the hill of Clogher, is sister to the Banshee (The Banshee’s Song) and Durriken (The Necromancer).  All three are children of Lir, God of the Sea.  Although we do not hear from the Harridan herself in this book, the vicissitudes of their family develop throughout the series.

Thunderbore is one of the long-winded Giants whom Aillen recalls in the hall of Tara in Of the Great and half-Great.  Note that it is Thunderbore who proposes Finn leave Knockmany for the Black Loch.

The Jorgumandr is a manifestation of the Ourobouros symbol – an enormous snake devouring its own tail.  For Greek philosophers, the Ourobouros represented the cyclical nature of time which, as we have discussed in the previous chapter notes, is thematic to the series.  Readers who recognize the Leviathan and Black Loch as pertaining to the legends of Loch Ness are doing swimmingly.

What to look for in this chapter

Oonagh’s sense that ‘There is something that needs saving,’ as well as her dream that she and Finn are separated by sea, speak to her powers of intuition.  Unlike, for example, the Banshee, Oonagh’s premonitions of what is to come often have a more poetic than specific nature.  Oonagh’s image of the sea, in particular, correlates to the centrality of water and its effect on other characters (Cuhullin’s phobia, for example).  From Of the Great and half-Great right through the series, the sea and how to negotiate it is a continuing conundrum. 

Baldemar’s declaration that he is the Snow Giant simply because he says so causes Finn to question his logic.  The notion that a fellow can choose is central to Finn and the series.  Note that when Finn angrily announces that he is a Giant because he says so in The Maudlin Vale, his first thought is of Baldemar.

The Snow Giant hints at a number of things, including the assault on Knockmany, the nature of the Ice Spider, and the resurgence of the Frost Giants.  His mood is more quarrelsome than helpful, however, so he does not explain all he knows. 

The concept of ‘island-dwarfing’ that Baldemar puts forward is a scientific model that posits creatures shrink over time when left in isolation.  The application of this theory to the conflict within the book and series – i.e., Giants, isolated from the world, have lost their former stature while mortal men see the progression from large to small as simply the way of things – should be noted.  Mortal men’s take on this phenomenon is apparent in the song Aillen sings with glee in The Banshee’s Song.

After a harrowing discussion and lying on uncomfortable terrain, Finn is only able to sleep once he sets his thoughts on ‘what one might find above the trees and hills and beyond the stars.’  Finn does not yet appreciate the significance of stars to the Giants, though strong hints of their importance are visible in the painted ceiling and Golden Seal at Treryn (Thunder on the Plain).  As noted in Of the Great and half-Great, Giants are fond of high places and it is for this reason they seek out hills.  By the same token, they are at their best when contemplating and aspiring to celestial things.  The Great Ones who crafted Treryn knew this well, but it is one of the many truths Giants have forgotten.

The horn that Finn blows to summon the Leviathan is one of many magical horns in the series.  Most notable is the Horn of Plenty, one of the three sublime objects left by the Tuatha De Danann.  The horn at the Loch was placed by Lir himself when he confined the Leviathan there.

The destruction of the Causeway, a deliberate act by the enemies of Finn and the Giants, correlates to the thematic nature of the sea, noted above.  Where the amicable Finn has built a bridge, his foes desire distance, and the sea is an obstacle once more.

What to look for in this chapter

The battle itself is meant to be more of an ambush than a proper fight.  Mortal men maintain a fear of Giants, such that they bring overwhelming force to any confrontation with them.  Led by Dunbar, the men and machines are doing a final sweep of Eire before uniting their forces with Jack’s at Treryn.  The few Giants at Knockmany put up a far braver and more effective resistance than the men were expecting. 

Spriggans, or Faeries, hold a vaunted place in Irish legend.  They are mischievous, certainly, but also powerful far beyond what one would anticipate, given their size.  Note that, working together, the Spriggans have no trouble hoisting even the enormous Cuhullin from his feet.  This strength will be evinced once again in Thunder on the Plain.  Many Spriggans make light work!

Cuhullin curses the Spriggans, saying, ‘May the Morrigan read to you by your own wretched light!’  The Morrigan, whose name means ‘Phantom Queen,’ is the Goddess of Battle and keeps a list of all those who will be killed in warfare.  Cuhullin is wishing that the Spriggans’ very light will help the Morrigan find their names.

Note that as they approach Knockmany, Cuhullin refers to himself as a Giant, implying that Finn is not one.  Moreover, note that, at this point, Finn does not seem to mind.  Since he does not yet know what has happened on his hill, the half-Great has not begun to consider his loyalties.

The little Giant with whom Iskander grapples is Gawain, who serves at the pleasure of Jack in the Green.  Gawain owes his life to Jack and is utterly loyal; indeed, it is this loyalty that underlies Gawain’s strength – he can accomplish most anything if Jack orders him to do it.  As Cuhullin and Iskander discover in Thunder on the Plain, Gawain is indomitable while under Jack’s control.

The winged creature that rains fire down upon Knockmany is the red dragon (Domovor), whom we see again in Thunder on the Plain and whom the blue dragon (Wyvern) laments in The Necromancer.

Liath states that the Banshee is a cousin of theirs.  Other characters, including the Banshee herself, describe the extended family as “complicated.”  This is very true.  The relation of the Banshee to Finn that Liath speaks of comes through the Tuatha De Danann side of his family.  The Dagda himself is father of the Danann, and he is also brother to Lir, God of the Sea.

What to look for in this chapter

The enormous creature with the booming voice who escorts Oonagh to her room in the castle is Balar, son of Ymir.  He is unfailingly polite to Oonagh.  Although Balar has sworn deathly vengeance upon her husband, he does not see that as any reason to be uncivil.

The quarreling among her captors that Oonagh hears, as well as the rough way Balar speaks to them, is indicative of the friction that exists between Jack’s forces from Eire and those from Alba.  The men and Fomorians in Alba see Dunbar and his men as uncouth, while Dunbar and his fellows resent the favoritism shown to the Alba forces by Jack and the Little King.

The tapestry that Oonagh admires is Jack’s attempt at poetry.  The large stag is meant to represent Giant-kind, facing its inevitable doom.

Jack refers to the castle as ‘the house of my master,’ though this is rather presumptuous.  It is, in fact, Treryn, the former home of Gogmagog that mortal men have captured and converted to suit their size.

The Burren can be found, very much as it is depicted here, in the North-West of Ireland’s County Clare.  Aillen’s statement that it is a place with ‘no trees from which we can be hung, no water in which we can be drowned, and no earth in which we can be buried’ is rather similar to how Oliver Cromwell described the spot.

The Banshee’s admonition to Finn the he is ‘half-Great in more than stature’ pertains to the theme of choice and identity, discussed previously.  The last line of her song, also, refers to ‘Great Finn McCool,’ suggesting that he can be more than he appears.

The harp that the Banshee plays is the same one that Aillen had in Of the Great and half-Great.  The Banshee is one of the few in Eire who understand the harp’s true nature. 

The blue jewel that the Banshee uses to replace Iskander’s eye is the same one that Aillen discovered under Ymir’s throne.  As stated, the jewel is too precious to be sold, but Aillen and the Banshee have had dealings in the past.  Specifically, as Aillen’s treasure dwindled, he brought his two most precious treasures – the jewel and the harp – to her.  She purchased them, though not out of any desire for pecuniary gain; rather, as she understands the power of these objects, she decided they would be safest with her.  All the same, it is difficult for Aillen to see his most cherished former possessions in the hands of others, as he confesses to Finn.

The wizard Oonagh spies from her window is Marland, loyal only to the Little King.  He has far less interest in Jack and his strivings than the Giants realize; he will use a portion of his power to help the tailor, but his larger designs will unfold through the series.

What to look for in this chapter

The chapter begins with the Banshee’s remark that Finn ‘will grow in the valley – the soil is good down there.’  The valley to which she is referring is the Maudlin Vale, and the Stone Giant echoes this remark.  The Banshee is proposing that Finn will benefit from the honesty of the Valley’s inhabitants, and from being forced to consider the troubles of others, rather than just his own.

Wrisley’s tapping of his nose with his forefinger is familiar to Finn because this is a favorite gesture of his Uncle Finegas, whenever he is imparting a secret (usually to do with fishing).  Wrisley and Finegas are in fact good friends, the latter being a lapsed member of the Jobbers Guild.

The hooded man Thunderbore describes as giving instructions to Dunbar is Modred, son of the Little King.  It is through Jack’s friendship with Modred that the tailor has risen to the top of Artek’s ranks.  Modred is a pupil of the wizard Marland, and he normally concerns himself with his magic, leaving the management of men to Jack.  In this case, Finn’s capture is an essential quid pro quo for the Frost Giants to remain loyal to men and Modred is ensuring Dunbar does things properly.

Thunderbore refers to Treryn as Caerleon, which is a title of Arthur’s court (a larger compound, more of a village, than the modern conception of ‘Camelot’).  While Treryn is a major prize for the Little King, it is not his only seat of power.  Jack has renamed the castle Caerleon as both an affront to the Giants and an homage to Artek.

The Wyvern (blue dragon) speaks with sadness of the Domovor (red dragon), and mentions that if it were not for the latter, there might still be six dragons in the world, rather than just five.  The tale to which the Wyvern refers has to do with the building of Treryn, eons before.  Several attempts were made to construct the castle on its current spot but, each time, the foundations would not hold.  The Giants dug very deeply to discover the source of the problem and, to their surprise, they found two dragons – one red and one white – sleeping in a hidden cavern.  The dragons awoke and fought each other, and the red dragon devoured the white one.  This story is so old, it is almost forgotten, which explains why common parlance refers only to five dragons.

The prophecy of his death on Alba that the Wyvern describes should be noted in relation to the English legend of St. George slaying the dragon.  The blue dragon states, ‘the little one that does me in will spend forever as a hero.’  As the Wyvern suggests, he received this prophecy in a song from the Banshee, then had it explained to him in full by the Necromancer.  This is how he knows to take the companions to meet Durriken. 

To extrapolate further on the Banshee’s wisdom in these matters – she knew well that the Wyvern would not take the companions directly to Alba, having warned the dragon he would be killed there.  Furthermore, she understood that the Wyvern would think to take them to Durriken, as he had previously interpreted the dragon’s song for him (much to her brother’s consternation, the Banshee often sends travelers to his door for clarification).  The companions’ interaction with Durriken himself is mixed but he is crucial in helping them to rouse the Stone Giant, without whom, as the Banshee understands, the Domovor would devour them all in Thunder on the Plain.

Iskander remains burdened by his experience at Knockmany.  The name of Arvel is still heavy on him, and he is not yet aware of the full effects of his blinding – and of the jewel in his eye.

What to look for in this chapter

Durriken remarks, ‘the Dagda gave an eye for wisdom,’ then asks, ‘where do you think it went?’  Though its significance eludes all hearers, this is no idle question.  Irish mythology speaks of the King of the Gods exchanging one of his eyes in return for wisdom.  When Durriken wonders aloud what happened to that eye, he is referring to Balar, Ymir’s son, also known as Balar of the Evil Eye, who obtained the orb after it had been passed along by a number of owners.  This latter moniker is something of a misnomer, since it is not the eye itself that is evil, but it is a corrupting thing in the head of the Frost Giant, since it rightly belongs to a god.  Later in the series, alert readers may relate the corrosive effect of the Dagda’s eye on Balar with Iskander’s reaction to the jewel in his own socket.

Readers for whom the Stone Giant conjures images of the guardians of Easter Island are thinking with suitable expansiveness.

The sword that Durriken gives to Finn is the one the Banshee warns him in her song not to take.  The Necromancer does not give it to Finn with any malicious intent; rather, he has had the thing for some time and is eager to be rid of it.

Clumberfoot and the other denizens of the Vale have all come there to escape persecution in the outside world.  Timberfor, as the other Maudlin residents sense, is somewhat different than they, in that there is nothing physically unusual about him.  Clumberfoot, obviously, often trips over his feet.  For this reason, his home prior to finding the Vale was not a hill – making him a rarity among Giants – rather, he lived in a secluded, pastoral spot dubbed Clumber Corner.  The Treble Giant’s anomalous appearance is also self-evident.  It is significant that instead of seeking out a high spot, as Giants are normally wont to do, the Great Ones in the Vale have sought lower ground, reflecting a surrender of their nature.  The Giants of The Canyon of Heroes, however, can be justified in their choice of stronghold for tactical reasons.

The crest on the Treble Giant’s tunic, depicting a blue castle with three towers upon a rock, is a symbol they have agreed on for themselves.  In their community of three, they have contemplated many possible meanings of their place in the world.  The castle, to them, represents the demonstrable truth that when they work in unison, they are supremely strong. 

The purple sash Jack gives to Oonagh is a betrothal symbol of his people.  It does not trouble the tailor that the gift ought to be accepted in full knowledge of its significance. 

Clumberfoot remarks, ‘The stars, like us, are beyond the clouds’ before falling asleep.  This should be related to Finn’s contemplation of the stars before nodding off on Baldemar’s mountain, as well as the significance of celestial things, discussed previously.

What to look for in this chapter

The Canyon of Heroes is also the name of a stretch of lower Broadway in New York City.  It has been the sight of numerous tickertape parades and celebrations in honor of championship teams and famous figures.  The Canyon of Heroes in this book is, likewise, a place for honorable fellows, though it is somewhat less joyful than its Manhattan namesake.

Lutz is forced into making a choice on behalf of his brothers and he is unhappy about it.  As stated, the element of choice is central to the characters of this book and series.

Taliesin, the Archer Giant, is at times unpopular with his mates because, due to a magical quality, females find him irresistible, and they forsake their fellows for him.  This does not come up so much in the virile confines of the Canyon, but it forms part of the basis for Taliesin’s friendship with Swynborn.  To wit, so filthy is Swynborn that he rarely has a woman to begin with, and so he cannot be forsaken.

The Golden Seal Oonagh polishes in the cellar is the one spoken of in the Banshee’s song.  Crafted and laid by Giants eons before, it marks the spot where the red and white dragons were discovered in the hidden cavern.  The words ‘Numen Lumen’ engraved on the Golden Seal appear in poetry and modern institutions (Emily Dickinson and the University of Wisconsin have employed the phrase as a title and a motto, respectively), but the expression is found much earlier, in Roman writings.  Contemporary translations have rendered ‘Numen Lumen’ to mean ‘God and Light’ but this is too simple to be accurate.  The Roman meaning of the expression, which is consistent with the Giants’ intent, is in reference to the energy and light that is in all things.  By pronouncing these words, and holding them to heart, the Giants acknowledge their kinship with all creation, from the earth to the stars.

It is noteworthy that the door to the tomb of the six women is square across the top, rather than pointed.  In their revered buildings, Giants opt for arched windows and doors, pointing upward as an architectural symbol of their aspiration to the stars.  The fact that the door to the tomb is square indicates that it is a man-made addition to the castle.

The women in the tomb are Jack’s deceased wives.  Readers who are reminded of the six wives of Henry VIII and his often shabby treatment of them are doing well.  Jack tells Oonagh truthfully that he is far older than he appears, old enough to have outlived many mortal wives.  His tale of how he came to kill his first Giant, however, is bollocks on stilts.  Jack began his Giant-killing career in the pursuit of money, not to defend his mother and home.

Jack’s affection for Oonagh is genuine, at least for now.  He is a very changeable sort, though he does not realize it, and he is not overburdened with emotional maturity. 

Thumos and Ronan are, each in his own way, reflections of the condition of Giant-kind.  Like the spirit of so many Giants, Thumos is gray and cautious, where before he was grand and high-minded.  Ronan, meanwhile, is golden and inspiring, if lacking in discipline and substantive thought.  As these Giants go, so do the others.

The rude treatment Thumos gives to Finn is in part brought on by the latter’s size; note that the gray Giant refers to the half-Great as ‘Little Finn McCool’ repeatedly.  While Thumos knew and respected Cuhail, he sees more man than Giant in Finn.  The fact that the half-Great is the spitting image of his father, only smaller, makes his appearance seem like a mockery to Thumos.

When Cuhail appears to Finn, it is significant that he appears through a waterfall.  As with Durriken’s summoning of Blunderboar, water can be a conduit between the living and the dead – or, more particularly, between one point in time and another.  The conversation between father and son is, as noted previously, an occurrence of asynchronous time.

The green eyes that glint down at Finn while he is talking with Cuhail belong to the Elusive Alpha.  This is the first creature ever to live on the earth, who saw the first sunrise and the sprout of the first tree.  The secret to the Alpha’s longevity lies in the concept of time folding over on itself, and it is no coincidence the Alpha appears just as Finn and Cuhail are meeting across eons.

Refusing the offer of war or dice is probably the right thing to do.  Jack intends to cheat, as he always attempts to do in wagers and, though he is a transparent cheater and often caught, he would not honor the bet if he were to lose.

What to look for in this chapter

There is a simple code to Oonagh’s song, much like that of the Banshee.  Further, the structure of the song may be categorized as ‘a gross and three nines.’  This is a new form, wherein there are three verses of five lines each.  The first four lines of each verse contain twelve syllables, and the last line has nine.  The entire piece, therefore, has twelve lines of twelve syllables (a gross), and three lines of nine syllables.

The name of Ronan’s riding beast, ‘River Horse,’ is taken literally from the Greek translation of ‘hippopotamus.’  Literally, hippo – horse, potamou – of the river.

Ronan’s fleeting presence in the story and the inspiring figure he cuts is related to the Golden Age he represents.  There is an unreal quality to Ronan, inasmuch as plans are inspiring but never quite thought through.  His death at the river’s edge should remind historically minded readers of Napoleon Bonaparte being tossed from his mount – likewise frightened by a hare – on the bank of the river Neman in 1812, immediately before embarking on his disastrous invasion of Russia.

Thumos and Finn quarrel steadily, even reversing their arguments at times, out of a personal antipathy, as discussed previously, but also because neither one can remain decisive and calm in the face of mounting difficulty.  Thumos has lost what cool he possessed under fire in ages past, and Finn has yet to develop the skill at all.

The Turducken is a creation of American cooking.  Combining meats of turkey, duck and chicken, such a delicious bird deserves a place in legend.  The Turducken is a more positive influence and omen than it is often given credit for; the bird’s affability sets a fine example for other creatures.  The Turducken is deliberately scarce after the battle ends, knowing as he does that victorious fellows soon look about for something to eat.

The Giant’s Ring is assembled by Marland on the plain of Treryn for mystical reasons of his own.  Trouble was not taken to transport the huge stones from Eire simply to be used as an arena for the blinded Bolster to fight unfortunate men.  But the wizard indulges the soldiers, thinking they can do no harm with their games.

The man who spies the Giants on the far side of the river and calls out ‘Ogres! Ogres’ is the fellow Finn accidentally flattened with a fish in Of the Great and half-Great.

The Bolster, having been blinded and a captive for so many centuries, has trouble summoning a thirst for freedom.  At best, he is able to muster a hatred for the Frost Giants and men, which is why he treats those he fights in the Ring, and Bergelmir, so savagely.  As his rumblings in the cellar weaken the foundations of the castle, and as he holds back the collapsing ceiling so Finn and the others can escape, readers who recall the blinded Samson bringing the Philistines’ house down on their heads are doing well.

When Finn utters the words ‘Numen Lumen’ while standing on the Golden Seal, he is, as previously discussed in the explanation of this phrase, articulating his kinship with all things, including the gods.  This applies to Balar as Finn’s exclamation invites the Dagda to participate in the confrontation and, seeing that the Frost Giant possesses his erstwhile eye, the King of the Gods is displeased.  The blast of light that consumes Balar may be seen as divine retribution.

The Stone Giant, true to his word, does not fight; he protects.  As with the Wyvern, Finn’s words do not affect him right away, but rumination on them results in action.

The Leviathan dispatches the Jorgumandr primarily for his own benefit.  Specifically, he hopes that by killing the snake, Lir may reconsider his confinement.

Finn is sincere in his praise of Thumos, nominating him King of Giants.  With the battle won and his immediate troubles behind him, Finn’s natural affability returns.  Likewise, Cuhullin resolves to return to Ben Cruachan, his former home and the site of much unhappiness.  Knowing as he does how to return a favor, Iskander offers to go with him out of friendship.  In this way, the half-Great and his companions have grown in loyalty and strength of heart.

As the chapter ends, this is not the first time Finn the half-Great has considered his destiny fulfilled...




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