Author: Louise Turner
Publisher: Hadley Rille Books
Type of book: Scotland, politics, John Sempill, marriage, 1488-1489, war, siege, career, growing up, history
Year it was published: 2013
On the 11th of June in 1488, two armies meet in battle at Sauchieburn, near Stirling. One fights for King James the Third of Scotland, the other is loyal to his eldest son, Prince James, Duke of Rothesay. Soon, James the Third is dead, murdered as he flees the field. His army is routed. Among the dead is Sir Thomas Sempill of Ellestoun, Sheriff of Renfrew, whose son and heir, John, escapes with his life. Once John's career as knight and courtier seemed assured. But with the death of his king, his situation is fragile. He's the only surviving son of the Sempill line and he's unmarried. If he hopes to survive, John must try and win favour with the new king. And deal with the ruthless and powerful Lord Montgomerie. . .
The characters are the strongest part of this book. John Sempill is painted as human, almost a saint I believe, for he's caring, giving, talented and obstinate in relationships, although he is a bit naive and kind of does have a wandering eye. Margaret Colville is his wife. At first, due to some beliefs, she's very rude, angry and scornful towards John Sempill, but as time marches on, she becomes a likable heroine. John's mistress, Mary, is a widow who is older than John and who seems to have a deep understanding of men and their desires. Hugh, from what I understood, is quick tempered and ambitious at the cost of those who would remain loyal to him.
Don't underestimate or overestimate people
The book is written in third person narrative from John Sempill's point of view as well as Margaret Colville and Hugh. Along with those there is also John's mistress, Mary, I think. I feel that a lot of research was done towards the story and the book and there is knowledge and expertise. The strong point of the book include the characters who are memorable and aren't forgettable. I also liked the small details that the author includes such as clothing and expenditures as well as how shortages were handled.
(From Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour)
Born in Glasgow, Louise Turner spent her early years in the west of Scotland where she attended the University of Glasgow. After graduating with an MA in Archaeology, she went on to complete a PhD on the Bronze Age metalwork hoards of Essex and Kent. She has since enjoyed a varied career in archaeology and cultural resource management. Writing has always been a major aspect of her life and in 1988, she won the Glasgow Herald/Albacon New Writing in SF competition with her short story Busman’s Holiday. Louise lives with her husband in west Renfrewshire.
I don't know much or at all about Scottish history, besides the fact that England took over Scotland and that the men wear kilts, thus it was an interesting read and very richly detailed, although I had some trouble and frustration because I read the digital version of it. Right away, the author warns the reader that different characters have the same names, and while she does provide a character sheet in beginning, I kind of found it annoying to be doing more motions just to check who's who, and some of the characters are indeed confusing by names. I think I also had some trouble figuring out what's going on in the story, besides the fact that John Sempill's father has passed away and now he has to figure out who the enemies and others are. I guess I had some difficulty figuring out the political maneuvering.
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)