Another lively take on Scotland's turbulent history, by the wonderfully prolific Tranter (The Marchman, 1997, etc.). As befits the author of more than 80 novels, Tranter knows how to keep a plot spinning. Here, he focuses on the life and adventures of Alexander Lyon, a noble in 15th-century Scotland and a brave, decent man. Such qualities are in short supply at a time when various factions are contending for the country's throne, following the murder of James the First. Lyon casts his fortunes with James's young son, and the story follows the long, bloody campaign to ensure that the boy will rule. While not particularly deep, Tranter's latest features some convincingly rendered characters, a variety of lively subplots (the least impressive being Alex's rather trite romance with Agnes Crichton), and a believable portrait of a half-wild Scotland struggling to create and maintain a sense of nationhood and order.