Top positive review
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Excellent Story, Told Very Well
on 27 May 2004
Walter Macken, a native of Galway, was born in 1915 and died in his home city at the age of 51. A writer, an actor and a playwright, he is perhaps best known for his novel "Flight of the Doves" - which was adapted for the cinema - and his "Irish Trilogy". "Seek the Fair Land" is the first book of this trilogy, and is set at the time of the Cromwellian Invasions. Although the book itself is a work of fiction, many of the 'background' events are true.
Opening in 1641, the book's central character is Dominick McMahon - having previously lost everything in the Plantation, he now lives in Drogheda. A merchant by trade, he is a husband and a father when he first meets Murdoc - a warrior from the west of Ireland. Dominic himself has little appetite for fighting - though eight years later, he is forced to defend his town against Cromwell's invading army. Within two days of Cromwell's arrival, the town had fallen, with women, children and priests among the estimated 4000 dead. Dominic, however, survives the attack and is forced to flee the city. While his wife, Eibhlinn, is killed in the siege, his son - Peter - and daughter - Mary Ann - also survive. However, the soldier who killed Eibhlinn also left Peter mute with a blow to the head. Joining the family on their escape is a member of the clergy, Father Sebastian, who was rescued by Dominic in the town. They move westwards, towards an area Murdoc had described to Dominic eight years previously - where he hopes he'll be able to raise his family in peace.
I've read a number of Walter Macken's books, and I've found each one very easy to read - like Michael McLaverty, he's a natural storyteller. It isn't always a cheerful book - life for Dominick, his family and Sebastian is a genuine struggle. However, it is a book I'd highly recommend. The remaining books of the trilogy are "The Silent People" and "The Scorching Wind" - well worth reading if you've enjoyed this one