Trying to ID a sci-fi/fantasy book I read in middle school. I read it around 2005, and at that time it was already a very old book - the pages were yellowed and musty.

The one key, defining, and distinctive element that I remember is the central importance to the plot of four relics or artifacts that closely resemble the ancient legend of the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann. These powerful magical artifacts were very important to the plot, and used in the war against evil. These artifacts later cropped up in other books (like A Wizard Abroad and The Black Cauldron) and captured my imagination, which is why I'm trying to ID this book.

The four artifacts are:

  • A stone or gem (sometimes associated with earth)
  • A cauldron or chalice (sometimes associated with water)
  • A sword (sometimes associated with fire)
  • A spear (sometimes associated with air)

Some other things I remember about the book:

The story is one of the stories of mixed sci-fi and fantasy styles. The characters rode horses and used swords, but also had some sort of laser weapons and other futuristic technology mixed in. I think I recall at least some kind of space travel, but I may be getting that part mixed up with a different book. Magic was also strongly involved.

The feel of the story was what I'd describe as Arthurian High Fantasy. The story was about kings and queens and kingdoms and wars, and either took place in a different world, or an earth very unlike our own. Based on what I recall of the writing style and their conception of futuristic technology, these were older books - I'd estimate 50s to 70s.

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    This list might help: nicholaswhyte.info/sf/irsf.htm
    – Buzz
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 1:49
  • The time seems wrong, but this story has a lot of similarities.
    – K-H-W
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 1:58
  • @Buzz I will absolutely check that out! I don't know if it was set in ireland, but it definitely had influences and might be on that list.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:31
  • @K-H-W The reason this story is stuck in my mind is because I later ran into the same four relics in other books, and ended up researching them to learn about the legend. A Wizard Abroad is actually in my article as an example of one of those other books :)
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:32
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    Thank you for asking this! I was just wondering about this book the other day, had a big impact on me as a child
    – Phil
    Commented Dec 20, 2020 at 2:54

4 Answers 4


I'm wondering if this might not be the series by Kenneth C. Flint, "The Sidhe Series". Originally written as a trilogy with publication dates of 1984-1985 (A fourth novel was added in 2012), it mixes fantasy with more modern science fiction elements.

The books are:

  • Riders of the Sidhe - Described on a website as "Irish mythology gets the Star Wars treatment in this neglected 1984 classic from American author Kenneth Flint.", it describes how Lugh Lamfada wrests the island from the Fomor. The cover for this one depicts a rider with a flaming sword, but the castle they invade has elevators, refrigeration.

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  • Champions of the Sidhe - Continuation of the liberation, and part of this novel is the quest for a cauldron that can revitalize any soldier. You can see in the background that the Big Bad is riding a tank like contraption and shooting laser beams.

enter image description here

  • Master of the Sidhe - Described as the final battle to take Eire from the Fomor and their "nightmare engines". Cover depicts Balor of the Evil Eye shooting a laser beam.

enter image description here

It has been VERY long since I read this, so I cannot guarantee that the artifacts are a central part, except Lugh on the cover of the third novel is depicted wielding his spear, they do go after the cauldron. The science fiction elements (Balor with a laser eye, Fomorian engines and tanks, modern inventions in the tower) all fit.

  • This is the best answer yet! Cover art definitely looks like the right style, and these seem to have the right feel/general story. Prominently features the relics (I see sword and spear on covers, cauldron is part of story). I seem to recall that the protagonists had sci-fi tech too, but I may be wrong on that count. I'm having a hard time locating a detailed plot summary online, which makes it hard to confirm. I will locate a copy so that we can know for sure.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:19
  • @Dacromir I would have included more of a synopsis but couldn't find one either.
    – JohnP
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:31
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    @Dacromir The Goodreads synopsis seems to have more info. And extra covers and several of the reviews have a lot of detail.
    – eshier
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:36
  • I'm not positive that this is the right answer until I read it, but it's definitely the closest thing I've found yet in my search. I'm awarding the bounty here but leaving the question open. Once I read these books, I'll mark the answer as correct if it is.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 30, 2017 at 0:56
  • @Dacromir: Did you ever get a chance to read it?
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 16:15

Could this be "Elidor" by Alan Garner (1965)? While not a perfect match - no lasers for example - there's enough similarity that I'm putting it up as an answer.

Here's the war against evil, some of it on a different world:

The story concerns the adventures of a group of children as they struggle to hold back a terrible darkness by fulfilling a prophecy from another world. The plot moves to and from the world of Elidor, and the city of Manchester and parts of northern Cheshire in the real world.

And the four artifacts:

The four treasures of Elidor – the Spear of Ildana held by Malebron, David's sword, Nicholas's stone, and Helen's cauldron – correspond to the Four Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann – the Spear of Lugh, Claíomh Solais, Lia Fáil, and The Dagda's Cauldron.

  • Doesn't seem to be the right one - the story I'm looking for took place entirely in one world, and the characters were definitely adults. Additionally, the world they were in was one of the mixed sci-fi / high fantasy worlds you sometimes see in older books, before genre conventions were nailed down - swords, lasers, horses, and magic. It didn't take place in our world.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:30
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    @Dacromir, ah well. I hope someone else can help you out.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 20:56

I don't have access to the book directly, and this is just going off a description, but might it be Seven Magical Jewles of Ireland?

The description:

Drawn through a hole in time and space, twentieth-century American Bass Foster finds himself hailed as a noble warrior and chosen to command--first on land and then at sea--the armies fighting to preserve King Arthur III and his realm against the Church-led forces determined to place Arthur's nephew on the throne of England. But Bass is not the only traveler in time. And though the mysterious force which has exiled him to this land of knights in shining armor has brought other unexpected comrades-in-arms, it has also opened a gateway to a far future time and place. And suddenly Bass, Arthur and their allies must face the menace of an unknown but deadly enemy seeking not only to overthrow Arthur's kingdom but to conquer and enslave their whole world.

Looks like its from around 1985. Can't find any direct references to the items though. Would be helpful if someone familiar with the book could confirm.

  • This doesn't seem to be it - the character in the books I'm looking for take place in their own time (they aren't time travelers). Additionally, this has a more directly Arthurian (knights in shining armor) feel, where the one I'm looking for had more a more Irish / Celtic influence, as well as sci-fi elements.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 27, 2017 at 21:05

This seems to the be The Many Colored Land by Julian May.

  • Can you improve your post by explaining why you think this is the answer?
    – Politank-Z
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 3:13
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    Eh? The plot as described is nothing like The Many Colored Land.
    – Moriarty
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 3:44
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    Doesn't seem to be the one. Plot doesn't look close to the one I described, and this doesn't seem to have the four relics. Additionally, I'd describe the feel of the story I'm looking for as "fantasy with scattered sci-fi technology" - i.e. they may have lasers, but they mostly ride horses and live in castles. The story you linked seems more sci-fi / space opera.
    – Dacromir
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 17:35

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