Monday, May 5, 2014

Fire and Sword by Louise Turner

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Read: May 1, 2014

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...

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Lord Sempill's Tomb,
Castle Semple Collegiate Church
Image by Philip Halling
Louise Turner's Fire and Sword was a natural choice for me. I've an innate affinity for Scottish history and though it is a work a fiction, I welcomed the opportunity to indulge that interest through Turner's debut. 

John Sempill is a rather obscure personality even to those familiar with his story, but Turner used the void to her advantage and filled the gaps with a wealth of fact-based detail. Brilliantly recreating the hierarchy of the sixteenth century elite, her novel gave me a real sense of the politics that dominated the period, as well as the complex social structure that characterized the age. 

As a comprehensive whole I found Turner's cast intriguing and genuinely appreciated the balance she struck between the masculine and feminine elements of the story. Individually, some of the characters, John and Mary for example, were too straightforward for my liking, but I greatly enjoyed the ambiguity I found in individuals such as Helen and Hugh.

Though not what I'd call fast-paced, Turner's plot moves at steady clip that culminates in a satisfying and enjoyable finale. Illuminating and informative, I am pleased with the time I spent reading this piece and while I feel Turner has room to grow, I'd certainly recommend her work to anyone with an interest in medieval fiction. 

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It’s wrong to kill, the priest said at last. You know that. It’s true that to enjoy the spilling of another’s blood makes the sin a thousand times worse. But the workings of this world mean that Man, sometimes against his better nature, is forced to sin. You’ve had the courage to admit your failings. God will look kindly on that.
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Check out all the stops on Louise Turner's Fire and Sword virtual book tour schedule!

Monday, May 5
Review at The Mad Reviewer
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Tuesday, May 6
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Monday, May 12
Interview at The Mad Reviewer
Tuesday, May 20
Review at Historical Fiction Obsession
Wednesday, May 21
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Obsession
Monday, May 26
Review at The Most Happy Reader
Tuesday, May 27
Guest Post at Book Lovers Paradise (with Kathy Fischer-Brown and Juliet Waldron)
Monday, June 2
Review at Just One More Chapter
Thursday, June 5
Interview at Caroline Wilson Writes
Tuesday, June 10
Review at Princess of Eboli
Thursday, June 12
Review at bookramblings
Monday, June 16
Review at A Bibliotaph’s Reviews
Monday, June 23
Review at Book Nerd
Monday, June 30
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

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