THE RIVEN REALM by Nigel Tranter


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In 1513, James IV of Scotland set out to invade England--a mistake, of course, leading to the rout at Flodden Field and the King's demise. So here, in another of Tranter's firmly researched but essentially light-hearted Scottish historicals, he attempts to trace the criss-cross of power plays by Scottish, English, and French heavyweights to control the Regency of wee James V, infant heir to Scotland's throne. And Tranter's fictional hero this time is David Lindsay, of minor aristocratic roots, to whom James IV handed over the care of his son before Flodden. The royal bairn, quite naturally unentranced by his mother Margaret (Henry VIII's tough, beady-eyed sister), adores Davie, a guid young chap who alternates care of His Grace with other missions--one of which, on orders of the Chancellor, is to spy out a possible collusion of the Douglasses and Lord Home with Henry VIII. Meanwhile, these and other Scottish barons are trying on various alliances, conniving at bypassing wily Margaret--with the Duke of Albany (next in line to the Stuart dynasty) as their choice for Regent. So the baby king is snatched away from Margaret; the tetchy Duke--an aloof Frenchman, as it happens--arrives, soon imprisoning Margaret in Edinburgh. But what's this? Margaret has married Angus the Douglas! And is Angus joining the other two principal barons--Hamilton and Home? Then Albany sets out to do battle with 40,000 men, only to be stopped and pounded into a truce by octogenarian Princess Mary, who tells him off in ripe Scots; there's another flurry of diplomatic feints and marches by Henry, Margaret, and the three bad barons, as well as Francis I of France; bloody duels ensue; and hero David, with his precocious diplomat-chum, David Beaten (a real personage), keeps hopping with secret missions and constant changes of scenery for little King James. Enjoyable history, firm at the base--and you don't have to identify every player and play to enjoy the ploys.

Pub Date: April 5th, 1985
Publisher: Beaufort