The latest historical by Irish bard Llywelyn (Red Branch, Druids, etc.) kicks off in the winter of 1602-03. And a cruel winter it is, following the sad defeat of Gaelic nationals at the Battle of Kinsale. As Llywelyn makes clear, the Gaelic people of Ireland spent (and, some would say, are still spending) centuries in combat with aggressors like the Vikings and Normans. But this novel is a paean to the last chieftain, Donal Cam, The O'Sullivan, who tried to stand up to the British under Elizabeth I. In fact, the jig is already up by the time the story here begins, since it follows Donal Cain's disastrous flight across Munster, Connacht, and Leitrim after the British victory. His famished, ragtag group of a thousand refugees, camp followers, clansmen, and soldiers diminishes to almost nothing by the time they reach safe harbor at O'Rourke Castle, and along the way there are dribbles of soap opera as well, just to keep the human interest going. The chieftain's antique aunt and uncle snip at each other lovingly;, a cavalry man who's had to give up his horse turns traitor; a young couple falls in love while keeping warm under a hide; and we learn exactly why Donal Cam joined the revolt against the English--apparently, his bastard son got skewered by an enemy soldier. All this and harquebuses, not to mention Gaelophilia. What's more, it's perfect if forced marches are your thing.