Synopses & Reviews
Ireland: Christmas Eve, 1601. As thunder crashes and lightning rakes the sky, three very different commanders line up for a battle that will decide the fate of a nation. General Juan del Águila has been sprung from a prison cell to command the last great Spanish armada. His mission: to seize a bridgehead in Queen Elizabeth's England and hold it. Facing him is Charles Blount, a brilliant English strategist whose career is also under a cloud. His affair with a married woman edged him into a treasonous conspiracy--and brought him to within a hair's breadth of the gallows. Meanwhile, Irish insurgent Hugh O'Neill knows that this is his final chance to drive the English out of Ireland. For each man, this is the last throw of the dice. Tomorrow they will be either heroes or failures. These colorful commanders come alive in this true story of courage and endurance, of bitterness and betrayal, and of drama and intrigue at the highest levels in the courts of England and Spain.
In 1601 13 years after the failure of the Great Armada’s attempt to invade the British Isles the Spanish tried again this time through Ireland. Irish journalist Ekin (The Stolen Village) effectively brings to life this fateful but largely forgotten second effort to claim England for Catholicism and the Spanish Hapsburgs. It’s a detailed narrative filled with heroism treachery dynastic politics and adultery—the makings of a soap opera except that all of it actually happened. Ekin wrings nearly everything he can from various archives; when details threaten to overwhelm the narrative the voices of the participants—whether monarchs or lowly soldiers—revive the reader from fatigue. Where the archives are silent Ekin offers prudent judgments about what might have occurred while reporting fairly on earlier participants’ and historians’ differing conclusions. And if Ekin sometimes goes a bit far arguing for example that the 1601 siege of Kinsale “altered the balance of world power and changed history” he’s no doubt correct that it deeply and permanently divided Ireland in ways that still endure. Ekin’s work is a nice contribution to the historical literature and one very well told. Illus. Agent: Pamela Malpas Harold Ober Associates. (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
Ekin finds Ireland’s long-time mishmash of bloodlines--Celt, Viking,Norman, Spanish--more fascinating than the discredited old version of a land neatly divided between pure-bred Gaels and foreignusurpers. The defeat at Kinsale and the exit of the Spanish resulted in Ireland’s Gaelic nobility departing to the continent, first atCastlehaven and then in the “Flight of the Earls,” which in turn resulted in the long, slow decline of the Gaelic Order that oncedominated politics and culture in Ireland. The pivotal victory at Kinsale also ended Spain’s dream of conquering England, as it had tosuspend its religious wars and accept peace. The financial strain of fighting the Irish and Spanish brought England a brush withbankruptcy. The Flight of the Earls spurred a slow decline, the dismantling of the old political structure, and a centuries-oldculture with a rich legacy of laws, social structure, poetry and literature began to wither and die. It left the already-depopulatedIreland’s north open to King James’ large-scale plantations of Protestant settlers from England and Scotland. Inevitable tensionsbetween dispossessed locals and assertive newcomers’ resulted in a massive blow-up in 1646, Irish Catholics rose in rebellion. Thecold-blooded massacre of thousands of Protestant settlers in Ulster and the equally ruthless butchery of the Irish by Cromwell in 1649created the template for centuries of mistrust and violence. Simmering tensions erupted in the 30 years of conflict known as The Troubles. Distributed by W.W. Norton.Annotation ©2017 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (protoview.com)
"Terrific. One of the most turbulent periods in Irish history is brought dramatically to life. Fascinating." The Sunday World (Ireland)
"Enthralling." The Irish Independent
"The intrigues, the siege, the battle, and the aftermath are brilliantly realized by the author." The Irish Catholic
"Lovely and enthralling. Ekin is a wonderful guide through this engrossing tale." The Sunday Times (London)
The story of the last great naval battle between England and Spain, evoking a number of colorful and dangerous personalities who fought in the climactic conclusion to these two countries' great rivalry on the sea.
About the Author
Des Ekin is a historian and journalist. After spending several years covering the Ulster Troubles, he rose to become Deputy Editor of the Belfast Sunday News. He worked as a journalist, columnist, and finally Political Correspondent for The Sunday World until 2012. His book The Stolen Village was shortlisted for the Argosy Irish Nonfiction Book of the Year and for Book of the Decade in the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards. He lives in Dublin.