BOOKS: Ballads' End

Thomas Flanagan brings his Irish trilogy to a rueful close

With The End of the Hunt (Dutton; 627 pages; $24.95), a novel that sifts the moral and political wreckage left by the Irish civil war of 1921, Thomas Flanagan brings to a rueful close his vast, intelligent, unfailingly civilized trilogy about Ireland's struggle to rid itself of English domination. Here as in the earlier novels, The Year of the French and The Tenants of Time, there is a powerful sense that the future is watching over one's shoulder. Unlike the characters, the reader knows that all the heroism and treachery, all the endless talk and rising-of-the-moon balladmaking, will end without result...

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