Two female titans -- perfectly matched in guts, guile, and political genius.
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. Just across the western channel, her colony Ireland is embroiled in seething rebellion, with the island's fierce, untamed clan chieftains and their "wild Irish" followers refusing to bow to their English oppressors.
Grace O'Malley -- notorious pirate, gunrunner, and "Mother of the Irish Rebellion" -- is at the heart of the conflict. For years, she has fought against the English stranglehold on her beloved country. At the height of the uprising Grace takes an outrageous risk, sailing up the Thames to London for a face-to-face showdown with her nemesis, the queen of England.
In this "enthralling historical fiction" (Publishers Weekly), Robin Maxwell masterfully brings to life these strong and pugnacious women in order to tell the little-known but crucial saga of Elizabeth's Irish war.
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Robin Maxwell is the acclaimed author of The Wild Irish, The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, The Queen's Bastard, and Virgin: Prelude to the Throne. She lives in Pioneertown, California.From Publishers Weekly:
Two powerful women of indomitable will-Elizabeth I and the sea-loving Irish pirate, Grace O'Malley-collide in this vivid but ungainly historical drama. Maxwell (The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, etc.) introduces the fabulous queen at 60, her face white with alum and eggshell paint and her red wig ablaze. Twice the age of her confidant, the brilliant Robert Devereaux, earl of Essex, she is brittle and bitter, loath to show any weakness or mercy. Determined to stamp out the ongoing unrest in Ireland, she calls on the notorious O'Malley for counsel. O'Malley's son and brother are in the custody of the English, and it is for their sake that she agrees to appear before Elizabeth. In an extraordinary private conference late at night in the queen's rooms, the Irishwoman tells her own story, which is the history of an island nation at war with England and itself as well as of a woman who has lived a long and turbulent life. Moved by her tale, Elizabeth grants her wishes, but soon finds herself sending Essex to destroy the rebellion raging in Ireland. Ravaged by syphilis and outnumbered two to one, Essex is persuaded by O'Malley that there is no shame in asking for a truce, and he makes peace with the Irish. Though he rushes back to Elizabeth hoping for her blessing, he falls from favor and desperately engineers a hopeless uprising. Maxwell's double portrait of two aging women is warmly drawn ("Look at us," says Grace. "Two old birds fightin' for the same feckin' worm"), but the novel's pacing is erratic, its leaps from England court intrigue to Irish battle scenes jarring.
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