If you want to understand the road to Irish Independence, I think this book is an excellent choice. Although it is a book of historical fiction, the historical facts are clear and correctly presented. A small group of fictional characters are added to the many known historical figures. The book begins with a list of characters, clearly stating which are fictional and which are real. It even states which of the historical figures died in the 1916 Rising. There are maps and a long biography. In every chapter there are footnotes that state the source for the given statement; these are numerous! So if you want the history this is a great book to choose. It is the start of a series, this being the first. I find the Irish controversy complicated. There are so many different factions. I appreciated that the details are clearly presented and footnoted. I also appreciated learning how this conflict was tied to WW1.
The fictional characters add love stories and children and simply making it a fun read. You get history in a pleasant easily digested manner. I wouldn't say the writing was all that special though. You can kind of guess beforehand what will happen, who will end up with who, for example. It is the fictional aspects of the book and the writing style that don't really shine, and for this reason I have only given the book three stars, but I am very glad I read it.
Through chapter 14:
I love how Morgan Llywelyn has history tied in on every page. Between each chapter there are newspaper headlines. Ned, the primary fictional character returns to Ireland after surviving the sinking of the Titanic. Now an orphan, he is sent to the boarding school Saint Enda. It really existed. Its headmaster (Pádraic Pearse 1879-1916) played a role in the following fight for Irish Independence. I love that the many, many historical details are footnoted. The school is right outside of Dublin. So wonderful to hear of a g-o-o-d Catholic boarding school! You can guess what I was expecting to be thrown at me! What a pleasant surprise! I am really impressed with how the author had fitted fictional characters into basically a non-fiction description of the times. Great review also of Irish history; all is so clearly explained.
There are clear maps, those footnotes mentioned above and a long bibliography. I don't like books where you are not sure what exactly is historical fact and what is fiction. With this book you can forget that worry!