Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
The king of Ulster has a daughter called Assa, the Gentle. She loves knowledge and has many tutors. One day, returning from a visit to her father and finding her tutors killed, she buckles on her armor and sets out to find the murderer. Henceforth her name is Nessa, the Ungentle. While she is bathing in the forest, Cathfa, the magician, sees and loves her. He offers to spare her life only if she will marry him. Their son is Conachúr mac Nessa. After a while, Nessa leaves Cathfa, taking her son with her.
When Conachúr is sixteen years old, Nessa is still the most beautiful woman in the land. Fergus mac Roy, the new king of Ulster, is only eighteen years old, but he falls in love with Nessa as soon as he sees her. She promises to marry him only if Conachúr can be king for a year while she and Fergus live away from court. Fergus agrees, but after the year is up, Conachúr keeps the throne, and Fergus becomes one of his most trusted followers.
Nessa arranges a marriage between Conachúr and Clothru, daughter of the high king of Connacht. On a visit to her father, Clothru is killed by her sister Maeve. Conachúr’s first son is born just before she dies. Bent on vengeance, Conachúr goes to Connacht. There he sees Maeve and, changing his mind, he marries her against her wishes. When she goes to Ulster with him, she takes along great riches and also a guard of one thousand men.
During one of his journeys at a time when Maeve refuses...
(The entire section is 1250 words.)
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