Click here to read reviewer Myra Junyk's take on The Rebels of Ireland: The Dublin Saga.
In the sequel to the first novel of his Dublin Saga, The Princes of Ireland, fictional-historian Edward Rutherfurd begins the next phase of tumultuous Irish history in The Rebels of Ireland, beginning after the disappearance of the sacred staff of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland.
Although the weight of this volume may be intimidating, the chapters flow easily with Rutherfurd’s particular talent for telling the past through the eyes of his evolving characters. Their fortunes change with the centuries as Ireland is transformed by the ripe opportunities offered to the New English settlers and the problems that ensue from the establishment of English colonies on Irish soil: “I come not to send peace, but a sword.”
The personal narratives of the families in the novel, as well as the forceful personalities of historical note, keep the story grounded, but with a more intimate touch. Families’ divided loyalties are caught in the juggernaut of a centuries-long conquest of Ireland by the English and the religious turmoil that ensues when Protestantism and Catholicism collide in a power-struggle resulting in thousands of casualties over the years.
The beleaguered island is the site of the great historical events made more accessible through the daily dramas of individuals who are shaped by their passions, commitments and beliefs and a quest for freedom from oppression and religious tolerance. Sprinkled among the family dramas and political conflicts are the intimate details of men and women who want prosperity and security for their families, drawn by fate into the religious and political dynamic that defines much of Irish history.
From the late sixteenth to the early twentieth centuries, Ireland teems with ambitions great and small. Cataclysmic events and rebellions redefine the face of a country that is the source of inspiration and myth, a vast mosaic of individuals who endure the inevitable: the deep scars of religious wars, the fortunes of peasant and aristocracy, medieval merchants and rebel sympathizers, anti-Catholic penal laws, the great famine, intrusive governments, foreign invasions and a culture of gifted writers.
Its narratives made memorable by the personal trials and tribulations of each family swept up in the turbulence of the centuries, The Rebels of Ireland is a remarkable achievement, sifting through the bounty and detritus of history. The result is an engaging recreation of lives bound by grief and blood, political intrigue and an enduring spirit.