I can’t really imagine writing a bad review of any of these books. The author writes with huge affection about her main characters and they are developing all the time. In the previous book I felt as though I got to know Elizabeth a lot better. In this book Sergeant Dodd and his formidable wife Janet step forward. So does the King of Scotland.
I love the period detail in these books. I write historical fiction myself so I’m well aware of the enormous amount of research that goes into them, but this author never makes the knowledge a burden and never reads like a textbook. But although the history is fascinating and I never put one down without rushing to look things up to find out how much of the plot is fiction and which bits are fact, it will always be the characters that bring me back to the Robert Carey novels.
Carey is a hero of his time and his flaws are as appealing as his good points. He is clever and fearless and very loyal. He is also vain, easily bored and hopeless with money. Above all he is surprisingly kind.
Dodd has always been one of my favourite characters but in this book we see a whole new side of him which reminds us that despite his surprising loyalty to Carey so far, he is and will always be a borderer, dragged down by the complicated loyalties and sense of honour of the riding surnames. His wife, Janet, is torn between loyalty to her husband and a fund of common sense which tells her that the feuding is likely to ruin them all.
James of Scotland, up until now, has seemed a wholly unappealing character in the series. In this one we see an unexpectedly sympathetic side to him – and so does Carey which for those of us who know the subsequent history makes some sense.
I loved the book and as always, I can’t wait for the next one.