Title: The Wild Irish
Author: Robin Maxwell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publishing Date: 2003
Rating: 4 Crowns
Synopsis: The glorious, turbulent sixteenth century is drawing to a close. Elizabeth, Queen of England, has taken on the mighty Spanish Armada and, in a stunning sea battle, vanquished it. But her troubles are far from over.
At home she is challenged at every turn by the brilliant but reckless Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, whose dangerous mix of passion and political ambition drives the aging queen to distraction. Just across the western channel, her colony Ireland is embroiled in seething rebellion, the island's fierce untamed clan chieftains and their "wild Irish" followers refusing to bow to their English oppressors.
In the midst of the conflict is Grace O'Malley, notorious pirate, gunrunner, and "Mother of the Irish Rebellion." For years, the audacious Grace has plotted and fought against the English stranglehold on her beloved country. At the height of the uprising Grace takes an outrageous risk, sailing up the River Thames to London for a face-to-face showdown with her nemesis, the Queen of England.
The historic meeting of these two female titans - perfectly matched in guts, guile, and political genius - sets the stage for the telling of the little-known but crucial saga of Elizabeth's Irish war, a conflict at the very root of every subsequent Irish uprising. No one breathes life into these strong and pugnacious women as does Robin Maxwell in this captivating novel, a rousing tale that makes history gloriously real.
My Review: I started out this book knowing virtually nothing about the history of Ireland - I knew there had been fights with the English, trying to take over Ireland as it tried to take over so much of this world - but beyond that, very little. This novel did a great job of pulling me in with the Tudor world we are all so familiar with, and then throws you right into the middle of the Irish rebellion and Grace's story.
Alternating between the history of the Irish Rebellion from Grace's perspective, and that of Essex trying to get what he wants from Queen Elizabeth, you get a taste of what it would have been like on both sides of this brutal story. I truly got the impression that Elizabeth truly did not understand the affect her actions had on a lovely people whose lives were dashed to pieces by decisions that seem pointless from a modern standpoint.
The reader knows all along that Grace and Elizabeth are on opposite sides, and I for one have been a long standing fan of Elizabeth. Despite this, I found myself drawn to Grace, as she is such a charming, yet brazen character. I found myself identifying with her so much that I too, was against the English!
I also loved that Grace O'Malley was a real life person, and the author does a great job of keeping seemingly close to her actual story, from what I can tell. Regardless of how much of the story is fictionalized, I felt like I learned a lot about English brutality and how poorly they treated the people of other lands. Having a character like Grace tell the story from her perspective really shows a personal side to the other side, and paints a picture you won't quickly forget.
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