The location of the fabled lost library of the Lynx, Europe’s first scientific society founded in 1603 by an enlightened group of men interested in science, is the prize Golo Eck seeks. In 1798 Golo’s friend Fergus Murtagh goes to Ireland to find the Irish links to the elusive library, while Golo and his heir Ruan Peat set off for Holland. But their journeys are going to be fraught with danger from those who do not wish them to find the library, as well as the occurrence of a brutal uprising.
Historical fiction is about using the facts to craft a credible fiction. Legacy of the Lynx works well in the way it does this, largely because the people concerned are not historical superheroes equipped with outstanding fighting skills and ninja-like abilities to overcome their enemies. All the characters are normal people thrust, particularly in Fergus’s case (who has to reach right inside himself to find his courage), into a situation they are ill-equipped for. They have to scrabble their way through all kinds of peril, sometimes more by sheer luck than the ability to actively avert disaster. You get a real sense of the dirt and danger and Clio Gray is not shy of being ruthless with characters you have built up a relationship with as they make their journeys, or their helpful allies they meet along the way. This is a brutal era and quite rightly the author reflects this.
The battle scenes in which Fergus is involved really get you right in there in the thick of the fighting and you get a real sense of the passionate, brave and amateurish way in which the Irish rebels are trying to take on a professional army.
Ruan comes over as a very callow youth and this story is his rite of passage into the world of being a gown-up and responsible for his own actions, as well as for other people. His wake up call comes slow and is hard won, but the addition of gutsy Greta speeds up the process.
Greta, the daughter of an Irish rebel, is the most interesting character of the story. She acts as a messenger, slipping back and forth across enemy lines, taking terrible risks to get her deliveries through. Not only is she fearless, but also mature for her age (she is about 18) and very intelligent, which means she can think on her feet making her an enormous asset to the adventure.
This is not a historic romp, but something which really tries to give you a feel of how life was then. The structure of the book makes it possible to absorb the many different characters and settings without feeling overwhelmed by information.
Legacy of the Lynx was courtesy of Urbane Publications