By Nancy Blanton
The Great Irish Rebellion of 1641 began with a failed attempt to seize Dublin Castle, but then rebel forces in Ulster captured several strategic fortresses. Infused with passion and optimism the Irish clans united, and the rebellion spread throughout the country. When Starlings Fly as One is based on the personal account of Sir Arthur Freke, the owner of Rathbarry Castle in County Cork. Rathbarry was besieged by Irish forces for nine months in 1642-the longest siege in centuries of Ireland's history. That history has long been told by English voices, but the Irish perspectives continue to rise. This story is not a classic hero's journey, but a story of war, struggle, spirit, and survival-a story of two sides.
Secretive and often bold, Merel de Vries seeks only escape from the English nobility she serves. When Rathbarry Castle is besieged by rising Irish clans, she faces an impossible choice: allegiance to owner Sir Arthur Freke, loyalty to new-found love Tynan O'Daly, and inner yearnings belonging to her alone.
On the wind-swept coast near the village of Ross, the English settlers hoping to build a new life now seek shelter within the castle. Rathbarry's former owners, the MacCarthy clan and its followers, have brought their armies to take it all back.
To Merel, a Dutch orphan, both sides are heroic and both sides seem unspeakably cruel. Worse still, the people she loves are on different ends of the struggle.
With no access to food or supplies, the castle residents face starvation, disease, and the constant fear of death. Sir Arthur is desperate to find a solution for rescue. Merel insists she can help-but no one will listen. When opportunity comes, can she truly do what her spirit urges? Or, will a sudden betrayal change everything?
WHEN STARLINGS FLY AS ONE is Nancy Blanton’s fourth novel taking place in 17th century Ireland. Based on a true account, it tells the chilling story of Ireland's longest siege, at Rathbarry Castle in 1642. Each of her books explores a different time and circumstance in Irish history, and each has won literary medals and favorable reviews. Her third novel, THE EARL IN BLACK ARMOR, follows the relentless track toward civil war and the execution of Thomas Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford. THE PRINCE OF GLENCURRAGH won four prestigious awards, focusing on the personal circumstances of a young Irishman under English dominance in 1634. SHARAVOGUE begins during Cromwell's bloody march across Ireland, when a vengeful peasant girl is banished to slavery in the West Indies. Blanton was born in Miami, Florida, earned degrees in journalism and mass communication, and continues to live in Florida with her husband and two cats. Her love of Ireland and focus on its history stems from her family heritage and her own unforgettable experiences on the Emerald Isle.
Readers have compared her novels to those of Edward Rutherfurd, Ken Follett, James Burke, Diana Gabaldon, and similar authors of historical fiction.