On the Cover: Finn the half-Great, Theo Caldwell’s first novel for young adults, tells the story of Ireland’s most beloved heroes with humor and heart. Finn McCool, at fourteen feet, thinks he is the tallest thing in the Emerald Isle. That is, until he ventures outside his childhood valley. Finn soon discovers that ancient Britain is a land of giants, dragons, wizards, and men, in which he is only one little fellow.
Despite treating those about him as decently as he can, Finn finds he has enemies all over. Even before he was born, cruel creatures known as the Frost Giants killed Finn’s father and tried to do away with his mother. When Finn learns what befell his parents, his first order of business is to seek out the Frost Giants and take revenge.
In later years, Finn becomes a calmer chap, living in idle bliss on his hill, known as Knockmany, with his beloved wife, Oonagh. But Finn the half-Great’s troubles are not over. Ireland and all of Britain are being overrun by mortal men, who have no patience for bigger fellows like Finn. When Knockmany is attacked by humans, and Oonagh is kidnapped by their leader, Finn sets out to rally Britain’s remaining giants and bring her back.
Steeped in legend, Finn the half-Great is completely thrilling as it introduces an unforgettable character and adventures both ancient and new.
Why I Chose It: My sister found it at a used book sale and gave it to me for Christmas!
Finn The Half-Great is a really neat read if you like myths and legends, particularly from Ireland. This book is packed with them, and I thoroughly enjoyed each time a new one was introduced. What I really appreciated in this story is that it didn’t take the time to explain each legend it was referring to, because as far as Finn is concerned, they’re not legends, they’re history. As a reader it was neat to read about the world that these legends had fabricated, while not being bogged down by lots of history lessons or explanations of how one legend is connected to the next. I had heard of quite a few of the stories that were referenced, but of course there were legends that I didn’t recognize, and this for me just added to the complexity and enjoyment of the world I was reading about.
Most of the characters were pretty likeable. It was interesting that along with all sorts of different personalities, there were also different sizes of giants, and these size differences allowed Caldwell to play with how these characters interacted. It wasn’t just one giant being mean to a another giant, it was literally a person twice as large who was being mean to someone much smaller. It added a level of threat and definitely made it interesting to read.
I did struggle with the sizes at different times, however. When characters were introduced they were usually measured against Finn, so that you’d get descriptions such as “he was twice as tall and half again.” But these I found vague and I could never quite picture the different statures of characters. There would also be moments where they would lean on each others shoulders, and I found myself thinking, but if he’s twice as tall, how is he leaning on Finn’s shoulder? I just found myself confused about how large these giants were supposed to be and how they could physically interact with one another.
The story itself was entertaining. There were many smaller adventures packed into the overall story, so each chapter felt like a short story. It was pretty neat reading from a giant’s perspective, especially when at one point humans arrive and begin to attack. I’m so used to reading about the evil giants that the hero human goes off to kill, so reading from the giant’s perspective was a nice change.There was also a nice variety of fantasy creatures within the story. I did find, however, that the novel gets a little tunnel visioned. In the beginning Finn can travel anywhere and encounter many adventures, but the second half of the novel his only concern is to find hiw wife, whom the humans have stolen. Even when other giants are trying to get Finn to focus on the fact that the entire island is at risk, or how the giant race is becoming endangered, Finn can only think about his wife. It got to be a little annoying, and I was looking for a bigger adventure.
Finn the Half-Great started off really well. There was a vast country full of adventures and packed with legends from Ireland. But as the book progressed it was less about this charming world and more about Finn and his love. I didn’t like how narrow the adventure got, and it made me feel like I was missing something more exciting. Even when there’s a giant battle, Finn is away inside the castle, searching for his wife. I was also really disappointed that the variety of legends all seemed to just fall away and were no longer present in the book. It was just about Finn, and it left me wanting much more. Still, it’s an enjoyable book to read and a very interesting look into Irish legends.
Rating: 3 / 5