Ireland, 1651. A country ravaged by Oliver Cromwell's Act of Settlement. Under it, Fergal O'Breslin, a young clan chief, and his fellow Irish citizens are forced to leave their ancestral lands and travel to the cramped, rocky province of Connacht. There, honest men become robbers, proud men must beg, and despair and privation become a way of life.
Set against a panoramic backdrop of religious and political upheaval, Fergal and his clansmen struggle to wrest an existence out of a barren and inhospitable land under the yoke of English oppression.
Shannon (aka Elizabeth Linington and Egan O'Neill), the author of numerous detective stories set in Los Angeles, turned to historical fiction with The Proud Man, and her new novel continues in this genre. Backed by solid research, she focuses on the Cromwellian regime from 1651 onward, when the English penal laws robbed the Irish of everything they owned. High Chief Fergal O'Breslin and his dependents are among other Irish citizens sent to land-poor Connacht where life is a daily struggle for survival. Fergal and his men forage for sustenance in raiding parties, narrowly escaping from English soldiers and fighting traitors in their midst. As tragedies occur in stunning succession, lovely Nessa O'Rafferty, Fergal's ward, pines for his love and wins it, finally, providing a romantic element. The long narrative's frenetic excesses tend to trivialize the unspeakable abuses of the penal laws (in force until 1838) and Cromwell's campaign against the "Popish'' Irish. Shannon also has the annoying habit of truncating sentences in mid-thought. But she does strike the heart with Fergal's observation about life in the New World: a good land and freedom . . . ``but it was not home.''