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Monday, February 10, 2014

A Kingdom's Cost by J. R. Tomlin

Genre: Historical Fiction

Setting: Scotland during the early 14th century.

First Sentence:  Dazed, knocked to his knees by the merchant's blow, James Douglas leaned
                          against the brick wall.

FYI: Some adult content.

This novel is the first in the author's Black Douglas trilogy.

The action of this novel takes place at the beginning of the Scottish War of Independence.  The author has crafted a fictional tale which weaves its way through actual historical events.

Our main character is James Douglas, who history remembers as the Black Douglas.  As a young man his father was executed by King Edward the First of England.  Later, James was witness to the brutal execution of William Wallace.  So, James has no love of England or the English king.  When Robert the Bruce declares himself king of the Scots, James rushes to his side and swears allegiance to him.

As the story progresses, James experiences the savage cruelty of war in the fourteenth century.  James is fighting, not only for independence for the Scots, but also to regain his family's historical lands.  At several times James needed to make terrible choices which earned him the the reputation of being a savage warlord.  Thus he was known to his English enemies as the Black Douglas.

In between the scenes of battle is the ill-fated tale of James's love for Isabella MacDuff.  Isabella left a cruel husband who had allied himself to the English crown.  She arrived to support the Scottish cause, and fell in love with James.

I felt that the pace of the novel started out slowly as the author set the scene and introduced the characters. However, the pace picked up as the plot reached the descriptions of the battles and of James and Isabella's romance.  In my opinion, the author chose a satisfactory place in the plot to end the first installment of the series.

This was an enjoyable read.  The battle scenes were realistic.  The characters were believable.  When the novel ended, I wanted to keep reading.

The second novel of the series is now on my "to read" list.

The books of the Black Douglas Series:


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