Dizzingly prolific Tranter (The Lion’s Whelp, 1998, etc.) died last year, leaving a number of completed manuscripts to add to his nearly 90 published novels largely about Scotland. In this 14th-century tale, a second son, 22-year-old John Cospatrick, unexpectedly inherits the fiefdom of Moray, in Scotland’s far north, while his brother George becomes Earl of Dunbar and March. King David expects John to settle the many feuds among the clans up north, which is much like having Hyannis settle a feud with Truro in its feud with Provincetown on Cape Cod. Robert the Second succeeds David on his death but is beleaguered by invading French forces who want him to side with them against Hotspur Henry of England. Later, pleased with John’s success, Robert makes him envoy to England.
Moving moments do arise, though this finely researched tale is no bodice-bouncer. One sentence simply proceeds to the next, and event transpires to event, “transpire” being a Tranter crutchword.