Chief of the Name and Clan
Set in the 1660s, just after the Restoration of Charles II, Chief of the Name and Clan is the story of young James MacCraile and his adventures at the hands of the supremely evil Earl of Kinlairn. The storyline twists like a serpent, with the reader moved abruptly from one action scene to another, and while Thwaite undoubtedly knows his seventeenth century weaponry, the book would have benefitted from a more controlled pace – as it is, confusion arises from the recurring shifts in narrative point of view. Reference to the Regiments is also confusing – the Earl of Kinlairn, for example, has his own uniformed regiment, but although late 1600’s Scotland saw a number of independent companies, these were never of such significant numbers to constitute a regiment (maybe this is nothing more than a question of nomenclature).
Half-way through the book there is an ‘aha’ moment when the Earl’s motivations finally become clear. By that point, James MacCraile has taken on some shape, but the other characters remain hasty sketches, secondary to the plot. While the story will not sweep readers away (and definitely not to the period, since the historical details are generic rather than precise), Chief of the Name and Clan is a fast-paced action read with a number of humorous if somewhat incredible incidents.
The book would have benefitted from a pruning of action scenes, and likewise the cast of characters could have been reduced in number and enhanced in substance. I would recommend a good technical edit by a professional to bring the book to a level it deserves.
(e-book edition reviewed)