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The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O'Malley
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The Wild Irish: A Novel of Elizabeth I and the Pirate O'Malley

3.6  ·  Rating details ·  977 Ratings  ·  102 Reviews
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 "
ebook, 400 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published October 21st 2003)
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This book is just shy of 4 stars for me, it starts very intruiging and deep in the story between the powerful Elizabeth I (a personal facination) and Grace O'Malley (a personal obsession!!) Obviously being historical fiction, certain parts of the story are "lead along" with bits of interest to string know events together. The beginning is facinating, already knowing quite a bit about the two subects, the fictionalized parts stood out but helped the story flow and made me wonder if some of these ...more
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in English or Irish history.
Recommended to Kris by:
Shelves: 2008
This book was completely awesome. I can't say enough about how good it was. And I know that there are other people who weren't that thrilled with it, cuz I guess it wasn't as historically accurate as they would've liked. This is a work of fiction that just happens to use actual historical figures. Of course liberties were taken. Nowhere does it say that this is non-fiction.

The first half is Grace O'Malley telling her life-story to Elizabeth I (how so many crazy things happened to her, and yet sh
Jan "don't blame me, I also voted for Hillary"
This historical fiction is set primarily during the 16th century in England and Ireland, and depicts the interplay between three prominent and delectable figures of the time: Queen Elizabeth I; Robert Devereaux, the Second Earl of Essex; and Grace O'Malley, an Irish pirate and patriot.

O'Malley, a daughter of an Irish chieftain, grew up on ships and learned how to sail just like the men in her family. She married thrice and had several children, but never lived the life of a traditional Irish wif
Aaminah Shakur
Mar 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Irish parts of this novel were better than the English parts. Had the author stuck to two perspectives (Grace O'Malley, the Irish pirate, and Queen Elizabeth I) the novel would have been better. Instead while the book purports to be about these two great women very little is seen from Elizabeth's perspective and the majority of the book is seen from her lover & favorite Earl of Essex. A lot of the Irish side is seen from the viewpoint of Grace's son Tibbot. So although the book descripti ...more
Tabitha Payton
The Wild Irish started out really interesting and I couldn't put it down, but the second half of the book really dragged on. I've read much better books by Robin Maxwell and think this is one of her books that isn't really well written. The story details meetings between Lord Essex, Elizabeth I and the Irish pirate Grace O'Malley. Grace's story was by far the most interesting part of this book. When Maxwell went into the struggles of Lord Essex in Ireland I was bored and couldn't wait to get to ...more
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not what I was expecting, and not in a good way. It's very "tell, not show" -- a significant chunk of the book was Grace O'Malley telling Elizabeth her life story, and much of the rest is narration. It felt as though Maxwell wanted to show a few scenes from the lives of Grace and Lord Essex (who is really the other main character in this story; Elizabeth is a secondary character at best), and didn't want to be bothered really writing the bits between. A disappointment -- now I want to seek out b ...more
Jul 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting content historically, but I'm not crazy about the writing style. A little more gratuitous sex than suits my taste. Still, it interested my enough to encourage me to buy a biography of Grace O'Malley. I want to know more!!!
Bom livro, com um bom retrato histórico e personagens interessantes. Ainda assim, penso que lhe falta algo que o torne realmente marcante.
Jun 05, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really well researched but too political (and sometimes slow-moving) for me.
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this! It was one of the best historical fiction novels I've read it a while. This story focuses on Elizabeth I and Grace O'Malley. But in truth, it's not just their story. It's the story of the Irish Revolution, and thus it's the story of many, many people. If you want a story that is purely biographical, this story might not be for you.

This story has a story within a story. Perhaps one-third of the novel is Grace O'Malley telling Elizabeth I (and an eavesdropping Earl
Oct 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one "bloody" book that explores the struggle of the Irish against the English. I was appalled at the disregard both sides had for human life. Anyone was apt to die from elders to babies to pregnant women in retribution. It was interesting, too, to learn about Grace O'Malley, a pirate and rebel in English eyes. I'm hoping to find other readings about this interesting woman. The author explores what might have happened in a meeting between Queen Elizabeth and O'Malley. Probably not true bu ...more
If half-stars were permitted, I'd have given this 2.5, but I rounded up...

Elizabethan England seen through the eyes of Grace O’Malley, the notorious female pirate and gunrunner history remembers as “The Mother of the Irish Rebellion.” The story revolves around the historic meeting of Queen Elizabeth I and Grace at a time when both women were in their early sixties. Maxwell posits that Grace’s public audience with the Queen was accompanied by a secret, more intimate meeting between the two rivals
Jun 16, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who reads a lot of historical biographies on Elizabeth I, I'm always wary about approaching historical fiction. Yet it was not the liberties with history that got me, it was the structure of this book.

Long sections were devoted to Grace O'Malley retelling her life story. While this had the potential to be interesting, it fell flat. Considering that the whole time Grace is narrating her story Elizabeth was listening, there was so much potential that was not realized. How did Elizabeth
I've read several historical novels with Elizabeth I as main character but never heard of Grace O'Malley, her Irish "pirate queen" contemporary. But Grace O'Malley is a documented historical person, who actually had a meeting with Elizabeth to ask for the release of her imprisoned sons. The novel is set mostly in western Ireland, where Grace O'Malley has independence as the daughter and wife of Irish clan leaders. This was the time period when Ireland had its best chance to push the English out ...more
I would rate this 3 1/2 stars. The battles and constant waffling was a bit tedious. In the end I found the gruesomeness of battle necessary to understanding of the battle...on both sides. There's always someone on each side struggling with moral issues of what is right. And there's always a heartless leader somewhere without the regard for sacrifice when it comes from others. And there are always the loyal followers who risk everything for their leader because they trust in him, or her. The very ...more
May 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What attracted me to this book was the fact that I like books with strong women as central characters and I also like learning new things. I have studied and read about Irish history before, but I have never heard about the pirate Grace O'Malley. Robin Maxwell introduces us to O'Malley through two improbable (fictional) one-on-one meetings Queen Elizabeth that set up an opportunity for Grace to delve into her back story. The only problem is the time spent on her back story can be a bit tedious. ...more
Jul 13, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i got this book anticipating adventure, excitement.. something. two powerful and notable women from english history are coming together, there’s potential for a great story. instead this book was written like a documentary… a very slow paced documentary. i lost interest after the first couple of chapters but dragged myself to the halfway mark, and at that point i could care less about the characters and wasn’t at all involved in the story line, so dropped it for something better. history is such ...more
Jul 11, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction enthusiasts
I got several chapters into this book before realizing that I'd read it a few months ago. I'm not sure whether that says more about me or the book. Stories of Grace O'Malley (the Irish pirate) are few and far between, which is why I gravitated towards this one (twice!). Sadly, Maxwell's version of the epic meeting between O'Malley and Elizabeth I struggles with accuracy. Whether Elizabeth and Essex really "got it on", I suppose is up for debate, but Grace would not have thought of the Queen as " ...more
Celia Kennedy
The author did an amazing amount of research and her understanding of the complex relationship of the Irish Clans, Chieftains, and politics is very evident. She also does an excellent job depicting Queen Elizabeth's relationship with Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex.

The most enjoyable part of the book, for me, is the story of Pirate Grace O'Malley's life - a champion of the Irish Rebellion against the English. I wish that the book had featured more of her life; the author does explain that th
Douglas Hayes
Irish history both fascinates and saddens me for how such a great island and people have been so used by the Lord Jesus to bless the world, and yet has suffered at the hands of invaders and claimants for control of them.

The Wild Irish is a novel that reveals yet another element of oppression at the hands of selfish and greedy overlords that I knew little or nothing about. While the writing was a bit uneven and sometimes uninteresting, I appreciated the opportunity to learn, for the first time,
Two strong women, Elizabeth I of England and Grace O'Malley the Irish pirate, meet in London during the Irish rebellion of the late 16th century. Grace shocked the English Court defying protocol while Elizabeth tolerated her behavior. I was familiar with Elizabeth but knew little about Grace and I loved learning new details about this unlikely pair.

Ms. Maxwell brings her characters and this period of Irish history to life. She obviously loves her subject and shares this love with her readers. I
Kelsey Prosser
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I was going to. I'm glad I picked it up on a whim. I like the personal flair added to what, in other books, is an extremely factual and political time period/collection of events.
My major criticism would be that at times the author seemed to forget from what time period she was writing. I thought it was odd for someone who writes primarily historical fiction, but there were certain words or phrases that stood out glaringly as FAR too modern a language
Since visiting Westport Ireland in 2012, I've been fascinated by the legends surrounding Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen. The first half of this book was told in Grace's voice while talking to Queen Elizabeth. The second dealt with Elizabeth's attempt to colonize Ireland and the relationship with the Earl of Essex. Truthfully, I had really looked forward to this book and was somewhat disappointed. It seemed to drag in places and just didn't hold my interest. However, there were aspects I did en ...more
Mar 31, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought The Wild Irish years ago but never read it; finally, I noticed that I'd never read it and decided to change that. Unfortunately, I was disappointed with how much I didn't like this book. Although the subject on which the book is based is interesting, I didn't feel any relation to the characters causing me to be quite uninterested in reading it. There were only a few times in the book where I was interested as to what was going on. Other than that, this was not a compelling read at all.
Jacque Sherbak
This was not my favorite Robin Maxwell book. If you have interest in reading about war you might like it. The first half was very interesting, a fictionalized version of what Grace O'Malley's life might have been like, based on the few facts known. Did make me aware of her though history has all but omitted her existence. I was very disappointed to find that her character was largely absent from the last half of the book.
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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.

To read the rest of my review, please visit:
To say I am a QEI and Renaissance/Medieval Britain fanatic would be mild. :) I'm also a pirate in my other life. This book gives the best of both my obsessions.
I love the Maxwell books. I know they are fictionalized; I know they are novels. That's what makes them fun. There's just something about losing yourself in someone else's history, someone else's story, and imagining what might have happened a few centuries ago.
Sep 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction hasn't had it this good in a while. The majority of the biographical background is spent on O'Malley, a little known female Irish pirate who was a contemporary thorn in the side with Elizabeth I. The epilogue details the historical background of the novel giving the reader a clear sense of the depth of research undertaken. Although not particularly plot driven novel, the story moves at a decent pace. Worth a read for anyone interested in the time period or Irish history.
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
I was glad I read this book, because it gave some more background on Irish History. I had never heard of Grace O'Malley. She was a powerful woman, a pirate, a sailor, a leader of men and an Irish patriot.
Was not so impressed with the actual book, somehow it took me forever to read, which is not usually the case with this genre for me.
Jenny GB
I am not connecting with this book. It's really interesting with the idea of a powerful woman pirate who helps unite the Irish, but I just couldn't get interested in the politics and maneuvering in the situation. Perhaps told by a different author it could have been a story I really wanted to read.
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The Wild Irish 2 12 Jun 29, 2014 06:31PM  
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Robin Maxwell began writing novels about the historical figures she had been obsessing about since graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Occupational Therapy. Her first novel, "The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn," now in its 24th printing, won two YA awards and has been translated into fourteen languages. "The Wild Irish" - an epic tale of Ireland's rebel queen, Grace O'Malley - closed ou ...more
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“Now the harpist and bard had taken their places under the roof of the three-sided booley house, and guests were wandering from the table to hear them play and sing.” 0 likes
“We Irish were alone, of all countries, in this way of choosing our leaders. Everywhere else in the world ’tis a firstborn son who’s heir to the title—in England, your primogeniture—and no questions asked. But tanaistry was how the Irish chiefs were made, and it had always served us well. Aside” 0 likes
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