The task of transforming the events of the 1916 Irish Rebellion into coherent fiction would terrify most writers. Llywelyn (The Lion of Ireland; Red Branch), however, has produced a thunderous, informative read that rises to the challenge.
Llywelyn's second novel in the series she inaugurated with 1916 (1998) furthers her investigation of Irish history by focusing on Ireland's struggle for freedom from Britain. This volume begins in 1917 in the aftermath of the Easter Rising and carries through to the civil war and the establishment of the Republic of Ireland.
During the period covered in Llywelyn's third magisterial novel (after 1916 and 1921) in her Irish Century series, from the island's division into the primarily Catholic Free State and the mostly Protestant Northern Ireland in the early 1920s to the creation of the Irish Republic in 1949, the outside world changes much while Ireland changes painfully little.
Llywelyn has given the volumes in her Irish Century series, which chronicles the significant periods and events in Ireland's resistance to and independence from British rule, titles corresponding to momentous years; the first series installment, 1916 (1998), was followed by 1921 (2001) and 1949 (2003). The author's chief success in these volumes lies in her ability to create characters from a previous time who possess contemporary vibrancy and viability. Readers who have been following the sequence will appreciate the continued familial connections from one novel to the next, and this latest one sees explosive issues in Northern Ireland culminating in 1972 on Bloody Sunday in Derry.
The Irish Century series is the story of the Irish people's epic struggle for independence through the tumultuous course of the twentieth century. Morgan Llywelynís magisterial multi-novel chronicle of that story began with 1916, which was followed by 1921, 1949, and 1972. It now concludes with 1999: A Novel of the Celtic Tiger and the Search for Peace. 1999 brings the story from 1972 to the disarmament talks and beginnings of reconciliation among the Irish at the end of the twentieth century.