The Pirate Queen

Written by Alan Gold
Review by Cindy Vallar

          If not for Irish bards and poets and occasional legal documents, we might not know about the legendary pirate queen who threatened the English treasury or the patriotic chieftain who defied English attempts to subjugate the Irish. Men attempted to write her out of history, but Alan Gold takes the facts and spins a wonderful tale about Grace O’Malley, who grows up aboard her father’s ships rather than pursue a more womanly education. She is a natural mariner and a skilled trader, and her exploits – legitimate and otherwise – bring her wealth and notoriety.

         Grace’s path in life contrasts with that of another prominent woman, Elizabeth I. Her tale is also deftly woven within these pages to create a tapestry that culminates in a meeting between these two queens. Their lives follow different paths, but both are fraught with peril. When Elizabeth’s henchman in Ireland takes Grace’s youngest son hostage, the pirate queen dares to venture into the enemy’s court and meet the Virgin Queen who would have her head.

          Through language and action the characters unveil their strengths and weaknesses, their similarities and differences until these two extraordinary women, who stepped outside the bounds of traditional female roles and took center stage in the world of men, come to life before the reader’s eyes. Gold succinctly provides the complex historical and political background against which Grace and Elizabeth lived their lives. He also provides an intriguing, enlightening, and believable glimpse into a historical meeting about which no clues exist as to what transpired.