Nicola Pierce recently published her fourth novel, Kings of the Boyne . To say that I was excited to read her new book is an understatement. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. My dad is from Drogheda, near the site of the Battle of the Boyne where the book is set, and I have actually visited Oldbridge House, while on holidays visiting my family. The history of the area is also the history of my family.
In 2012, we were visiting Ireland and my mom and dad met Nicola at a literary talk on her new book, Spirit of the Titanic, at a pub called Tí Chairbre, which is a kind of cultural hub for the area and hosts lots of music, especially traditional Irish music, but loads of other great things as well. Of course, 2012 was the centennial of Titanic, and so the book was very timely. And tickets for the Titanic were sold out of Tí Chairbre back in 1912! My mom went out to the bookshop the very next day and picked up a copy for me, as well as a few for my cousins. My family and Nicola kept in touch over the years.
In 2015, Nicola came and spoke to my book club during a visit to Portland, Oregon (where I live) about the three books she had published at that time: Spirit of the Titanic (2012), City of Fate (2014), and Behind the Walls (2015). She also talked to us about what it is like to write, and how she goes about it, and that was very interesting as well. She told us her writing process is bolstered by a nice slice of cake. And, she shared with me that she was working on a new book-a book about the Battle of the Boyne!
Her newest book, Kings of the Boyne, is about the Battle of the Boyne, which took place in 1690, between (Catholic) King James the Second and (Protestant) Prince William of Orange. I’m not going to spoil anything, but we all know the outcome of the Battle of the Boyne and it was a turning point in the history of Ireland. The story is recounted through a narrator who relays the point of view of three soldiers, and the two kings. Nicola told the story very well, as she always does. Nicola makes history accessible, and interesting.
Two of the soldiers, Robert and Daniel Sherrard, brothers from Derry, were also in Behind The Walls, and they return in Kings of the Boyne. It was fun to see them show up in another story. They are fighting for King William. Daniel comes to realize he’d rather be back home, and Robert, his older brother, is being promoted-he wants to stay.
Then there’s Gerald O’Connor, a Jacobite, who comes from a background of nobility and is fighting along with King James. A lot of his motivation to fight is to prove his family’s honor and bravery. His fellow soldier is a Frenchman called Jacques, and in many ways he looks after and looks out for Gerald.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Kings of the Boyne. It was very well-written, even though I knew how the battle would end, the story was compelling and I wanted to keep reading. Like all of her books, Nicola told the historical event the book focuses on, but she also tells the story of all the characters-even the minor ones, such as Mrs. Watson. She gives an idea of what it was like to be an ordinary person in the midst of this war, and I think that gives the reader a unique and valuable perspective. I have read all of her books now. And they are all really good. If you have a chance to see her talk about one of her books, or to give a reading, you should absolutely go. She makes the story come alive on the page, but to hear her talk about her writing is captivating, especially if you are interested in writing yourself.
So, if you get the chance, I definitely recommend reading Kings of the Boyne, as well as her other books! And if you have a chance to attend a talk or reading, by all means go!