Rebel’s Knot (Quest for the Three Kingdoms)

Written by Cryssa Bazos
Review by Erin Page

Kingdoms wage war on a small island, and it is the common folk who bear the brunt of the fighting. Aine Callaghan is a dairymaid on the Mulriane homestead in County Limerick, Ireland. The young woman is unassuming and unencumbered, save for the mystery of her early years spent in Cork, when she lived a life she would rather forget. Her idyllic new livelihood is torn apart when English forces raid the estate in revenge for the young lordship’s participation in rebel Irish activities, waging brutal violence on anyone they find, and driving Aine into hiding.

It is while foraging in the wild hedge that Aine meets Niall O’Coneill, kin to the Mulrianes and soldier in the employ of Edmund O’Dwyer, a respected Irish commander. Aine and Niall reluctantly set off together for the relative safety of the Irish military encampment, where they face the harsh realities of living off the land as well as the dangers inherent to living among trained warriors, some of whom seem to be on the side of the British.

Aine and Niall both present intriguing points-of-view: she a woman living on her own in the 17th century, and he a soldier with noble aspirations confronting increasingly political conflicts with his fellow men. Their relationship evolves naturally over time, although Aine faces a series of near-assaults and grave danger in order to stay by Niall’s side. While violence and bloodshed occur with some frequency, Bazos keenly avoids salaciousness in telling this story of people caught up in imperial conquest.

This is the third in Cryssa Bazos’ Quest for Three Kingdoms series. While some character arcs continue across the books, Rebel’s Knot easily stands on its own with an ending that will leave readers satisfied with true closure.