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The Pirate Queen: The Story of Grace O'Malley, Irish Pirate

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  437 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Grace O'Malley commanded a dozen ships and the obedience of thousands of men. Her empire stretched from Connaught on the Irish coast to the cobalt aters of Africa. Through the daring of her piracy, Grace nearly bankrupted the English treasury-and her outright defiance brought embarrassment to Elizabeth I. Yet the lives of these two amazing women were inextricably intertwin ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by NAL Trade (first published 2003)
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Aug 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
This historical novel which begins in 1544 is based on the real-life female Irish pirate, Grace O'Malley, who commanded dozens of ships and thousands of men.

Grace's life, both as a pirate and a woman, is lively, fast paced, and very entertaining. I had never heard of her prior to coming across this book -- a female pirate, especially in the 1500's?!

As exciting and interesting as Grace's story is the secondary story, which takes up a substantial part of the book -- the also fascinating stories of
Feb 23, 2009 rated it did not like it
I'm always up for a good swashbucking adventure tale, but this, the embellished life story of Irish lady pirate Grace O'Malley, was a sore disappointment. The prose felt rather flat and one-dimensional, not doing full justice to the life of one of history's most fascinating women. One thing that was found in this book that I feel really ruins what could otherwise be an excellent story is the use of profanity, not in the dialouge between charactors, but within the narrative itself. This, I feel, ...more
May 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Read this review (and others) at:

Grace O’Malley, also known as Gráinne Mhaol and The Sea Queen of Connacht, is a legendary figure in Irish folklore and one of the most renowned female pirates to have made her mark on history. She was born around 1530, during which time Henry VIII ruled England and was proclaimed to be the Lord of Ireland even though the various clans of Ireland were more or less left to their own devices. Her father Eoghan was chieftain o
Nov 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Roni by: DJ Bono
Shelves: book-swap
Grace O'Malley, the Pirate Queen, lead a long and adventurous life, not only at the sea, but on the land as well. Not always a simple and quiet one but one with never a dull and placid moment. Upon on of her first marriage she refuses to be tamed into a life of a traditional and submissive wife. She displays that she has a mind of her own and will not let any man, let alone Queen Elizabeth I of England, conquer her.

In Grace's lifetime career as a pirate she nearly bankrupts the English treasury
Jan 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of historical fiction written by women, and in this book, there were only two times I could tell it was written by a man: He didn't go into detail of the births of her children, and he didn't harp much on how she missed her children, considering she spent such little time with them--even as newborns. Other than those two things screaming at me here and there, it was a great book. My dad mentioned how arrogant Elizabeth I comes off, compared with other works, but I had to say that th ...more
June Pecchia
When I took this book I had ordered from the library online and I first saw the cover, I thought, "OMG. It's a bodice-ripper."

It's not. Much. Yes, a few gently rendered romantic scenes, but sex is not the focus of this wonderfully dressed-up telling of the life of an Irish patriot of the 1500s.

Don't expect a feeling of dry, scholarly historical fiction, and don't expect great literature.

It did serve the purpose I wanted: historical fiction to help me prepare for a trip to Ireland, the land of m
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: from-second-hand
This book had been languishing on my shelf for awhile, but after attempting to read another shitty pirate book, I gave this a go.
Grace O'Malley is a straight up Boss Bitch.
yaaas queen
I love a good fictionalised biography and this one totally delivered. The story was very engaging. Grace was well characterised, but sometimes seemed too perfect.
The parts with Queen Elizabeth were weaker. If anyone has seen the Cate Blanchett movies, they know this story. I don't need more time on historical fuckboi Robert D
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful historical fiction that will keep you riveted with each turn of the page! Yes, this is fiction, but based on real-life heroines, both Grace O'Malley and Queen Elizabeth of England. Both tall, strong, and powerful women that were once each other's adversaries over the seas. Pretty cool book! ...more
Nancy 6+
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
"You, Sir Philip, could not possibly understand what it's like to be a woman in the world of men. We not only have to perform the same feats as men if we're to be successful in our own right, but we have to overcome the curse of being born a woman."
- Grace O'Malley
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed it! So much fun to read. My only issue was with some of the exposition. Especially for someone who knows English history, it seemed clunky. Other than that, it was an exciting story and I recommend it.
Sep 21, 2019 added it
Enjoyed the history and the setting for this fictional account of the Pirate Queen, who I had never heard of before, but due to content and Elizabeth I’s sections I skimmed most of the last half to see how it concluded.
Donna DeKeyrel
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it was entertaining.
Oct 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I love this novel. It's one of those books I keep coming back to and still can't get enough of. ...more
Juliet Dove
May 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this embellished retelling of Grace O'Malley's story. The author's presentation of her life is fascinating and impactful. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical fiction! ...more
Jessica Anderson
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very much enjoyed reading about this strong and inspiring woman.
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it
I have had this book on my shelf for what seems like forever. I never was in the mood to read it but today I picked it up and ended up reading it in one day.

This is the story of Grace O'Malley who at fourteen years old wants nothing more to sail the seas with her father. To achieve this, she cuts off all her hair and thanks to the jovial nature of her father's crew, she is allowed to join him on his escapades. When she returns to port, her mother puts her in a convent and several years pass. By
This was a brilliant read!! I absolutely loved it!

Alan Gold has taken what little is known about the famous female Irish Chieftan and Pirate, Grace O'Malley, and has "supposed" - in a highly entertaining way! - what the rest of her story might be.

We follow Grace's life from childhood - where she defiantly cuts off all her hair to look like a boy, because her mother has forbid her from continuing to accompany her father, also a pirate on his sea voyages - through two marriages, a lover or two, th
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction-general
4.5 stars rounded up.

The Pirate Queen: The story of Grace O'Malley, Irish pirate by Alan Gold is a supremely fascinating book. I picked it up after hearing the name, Grace O'Malley, on an episode of NCIS.

I'm not generally a pirate fan, but I thought that perhaps with a female pirate, it would provide the strong female characters that I prefer. The book was extremely interesting and I was riveted to it from the day I picked it up. I happened to be in school at that point, and it was a good thing
I had high hopes for this book because I have heard a little bit about Grace O'Malley, but I felt a little let down.

While I did enjoy Grace's adventures and exploits, it seems like the author didn't do much to expand on the other characters that play a pretty important role in both Grace and Elizabeth's lives. Truly Grace was the equal of Elizabeth in so many ways. Both are headstrong women trying to survive in a a male dominant society, deal with a lot of backstabbing, fight for what they belie
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It is a quick and easy read. I'm a decendant of the O'Malleys, which made it even more interesting, but I particularly enjoyed reading of a strong Irish woman who was a leader before her time. The author was straight forward about not having all of the facts, having to take some creative license simply because many of the facts about Grace O'Malleys life aren't available. But it would seem he mostly stuck to the truth where it was to be found. Grace was a leader and a ...more
Feb 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Don't judge a book by it's cover. I admit, based on the cover and seeing this was a book about a pirate, this book was definitely not something I would normally read. But I got it in a used book swap, and decided to give it a try. So glad I did! The Pirate Queen is a great historical fiction read. I loved the Irish history, the references to Anne Boleyn and the stories of Queen Elizabeth I. This is a terrific combination of Philippa Gregory's Boleyn novels and Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. And, le ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: pirate fans
Recommended to Jason by: a history podcast listener
The first thing I should mention about The Pirate Queen: The Story of Grace O’Malley, Irish Pirate by Alan Gold, is that it is a fictional piece. However, please be aware that the books language is not for the fainted hearted. The strong language was a major turn off for me. The other warning I will give, is the book sometimes reads more like a romance novel than anything else. All in all, I would say that you should read this book, if you are at all interested in female pirates. I did enjoy the ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
This is a wonderful book. I should point out that it is historical fiction, so it should not be considered a learning tool. The author freely admits that he combined a few stories, added some events that were merely rumors, and in some cases he simply had to guess at what might have happened. That said, he did it all quite admirably. It's hard to imagine this woman talking to Elizabeth I face-to-face, but he made it all work well. If you're looking for a fun read with a historical background, th ...more
Aug 12, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adventure
The concept is great, but since not much is know about this real life female pirate, the author made a lot of it up, which he freely admits. In believe I only made it through 5 chapters because of this. Most of it was just too unrealistic. I also had a big problem with the F-word being used so frequently. I find it doubtful that it was used that much, especially be a women, even if she was a pirate. Also she was supposed to be Irish, but the text is 100% English, written by an Australian??? I re ...more
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
I was disappointed because I had high hopes for this book. It had two historical figures, females, Queen Elizabeth and Grace O'Malley. Unfortunately I wasn't impressed with the characterization as it seemed inconsistent and incomplete.
The dialogue was good in parts and weak in others, and while Mr. Gold did a good job of switching between the points of views of the vastly different main characters, I felt he had made Grace unbelieveable as she was too perfect.
Apr 08, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-adult
Kind of trashy historical fiction. This is a really interesting story about a successful independent woman in history. Unfortunately the author decided to cover the book like a romance novel and trash it up a bit. If it wasn't for the notes afterward I would have thought it was entirely made up. ...more
Aug 12, 2011 rated it liked it

I've been poking around for new heroes from the past. Enter Grace O'Malley.

Conn Iggulden raised the bar for writing historical fiction for me. Alan Gold was not aiming for something epic. Like the sailing the ocean waters, it's an uneven performance. But like sailing the ocean waters, it's filled with adventure.
Jan 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Grace O'Malley is an interesting character and it was fun to learn more about her in this well written book. However, I did not enjoy all of the sexual references and swear words throughout the book. ...more
Oct 23, 2009 rated it liked it
I began reading to see if it belonged in a K-8 parochial school library. It doesn't. I got involved in the story and continue to read. The writing isn't great, but it's easily readable and as I said, the story carries it.

I'm surprised I enjoyed it so much.
I really like this book. I think the latter part of it drags on, but I've re-read the book several times and recommend it to others! It's a really fun read. Grace is an awesome woman, and an awesome pirate. ...more
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Alan Gold began his career as a journalist, working in the UK, Europe, and Israel. In 1970, he emigrated to Australia with his wife, Eva, and now lives in St. Ives, Sydney, where he divides his time between writing novels and running his award-winning marketing consultancy.

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