Fire and Sword

Written by Louise Turner

In June 1488 two Scottish armies meet at Sauchieburn. The Sempills of Ellestoun fight for their king, but lose to the king’s son’s forces. When John Sempill comes to amidst the carnage, he finds his father’s corpse. Young and unwed, he is the new laird and Sheriff of Renfrew. It’s the last thing that he wanted.

The fallout from the battle falls hardest on John, as the new king, having supplanted his father, consolidates his power. John and his people must endure the fire and sword policies enacted against those who had fought for the old king. He must find a way to cooperate with the man who killed his father, the very man who might come to be his patron. And he must earn the love of his bride, a woman who despises him.

Turner gives her readers and thorough grounding in these tumultuous times in Scottish history, including a detailed historical note at the end revealing that nearly every character in the book is an actual historical figure. Being Scottish herself, her knowledge of the history and the land shine through the narrative. John proves to be a complicated and compelling young man, one the reader can readily sympathize with. The book is brutal in places and left me at times emotionally drained. But that just shows that I came to care about the characters. Recommended.