Brigid's Fire Press (2014)
Ingram/Baker & Taylor
She will crown a king.
He will carry a king’s heart.
Both will pay an unthinkable price for Scotland.
As the 14th century dawns, Scotland’s survival hangs by a spider’s thread. While the clans fight among themselves for their empty throne, Edward Longshanks of England schemes to annex the northern kingdom to his growing realm.But one Scot lad refuses to move from the brutal monarch’s path.
James Douglas is cherished by his fellow countrymen as the Good Sir James. Yet his daring raids across the border wreak such havoc that the English brand him the Black Douglas and nearly bankrupt their treasury to capture him. As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish kings on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. Their bliss is threatened when James befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle make a fateful decision that will lead the armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.
This is the little-known but true story of Scotland’s War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of William Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. At last, James Douglas takes his rightful place with Wallace and Bruce in the pantheon of Scottish heroes. This thrilling epic leads us to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, the famous Spider in the Cave, the excommunicated Knights Templar, the suppressed Culdee Church, and the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroaththat inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later.
"[Craney] has woven a well-crafted, interesting tale." -- Historical Novel Society
"The best book I've read this year." -- John Graham, seneschal of the Society of Creative Anachronism
"It was a marvelous book and I was moved to tears." -- Kathleen Ingram, Reading the Ages
"I feel like a groupie, I'm so excited about this book!" -- Amazon reviewer
The main character of this historical tale is James Douglas, otherwise known as the Black Douglas. He has more than enough reasons to hate the English - or rather, King Edward I aka Edward Longshanks.
I will note that this is not an academic historical and is written as fiction. Fiction with far less inaccuracies than "Braveheart"! Because it takes place in the late 1200's and early 1300's, history can be a bit disjointed and different stories are told by different sides. The author brought together both the historical timelines and used some of his creative license to fill in grey areas or assumptions. I liked the political schemes, the new romance, the new points of view (especially Isabella of France) and the epic battles that took place over the course of many years.
Driven by a timeline, it can be a bit long as it's telling a story of a rather mixed and layered lifetime but Craney also breathes life into names, titles and battles that when reading a textbook can be daunting. He does describe some of the characters as the actors in "Braveheart", mostly I noticed Edward Caernervon ( or Caernarfon depending on what textbook you read). He was depicted in Christopher Marlowe's 1592 play "Edward II" as being an inept king and a homosexual. This is just one of the ideas up for debate in the novel. But, like I said, it's a retelling of a disjointed history of two different nations.
About the author:
Where to Find: Website | Goodreads | Facebook