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Review for The Scots of Dalriada from Cathie Dunn, an award-winning and Amazon-bestselling author.

The Scots of Dalriada - Rowena Kinread

Whilst I know quite a bit about medieval Scotland, my knowledge of the earlier centuries is somewhat vague. So it was with great interest that I picked up this novel, and I was not disappointed.

The Scots of Dalriada is the tale of three brothers, and of the migration of the Scoti people from Ireland to western Caledonia. So just how did the Scots arrive in Scotland?

The story begins with Erc, Fergus’ father, in Ireland. When he is married to a ’much older’ woman aged 15, for alliances, his life changes forever. His own father is ambitious, and personal contentment are not on his list of favours. 

Erc's sons are born, but little does he know what fate has in store for them.

As we see the sons grow up, we witness their experiences. Growing up at such a time of profound change turned men into hardened warriors, each keen to carve out their own fate. It's no time for niceties, and as jealousies grow, so grows the violence. 

But it's also a time for opportunities, and as Fergus sets out for a grand adventure, his brother Cartan has other plans. Plans that involve intrigue and murder.

The Scots of Dalriada is a gripping novel that shows a credible ’what if’ scenario. The research is impeccable, and the author's knowledge of the era shines through all through the book. She also doesn't shy away from the machinations of the time, the intrigues, and the coming of age of our young warriors is a brutal path to manhood.

I didn't warm to the narrative, though, which I found a little repetitive and jarring at times. But that didn't spoil my reading experience. The characters are clearly defined, none too likeable, but relatable in an historical sense. The plot is gripping, full of action, and the author's description takes us right back to what we consider the Dark Ages. In one sense, they were indeed dark: the bloody violence of the times, mixed with personal ambition that brought men to turn against their own.

A clever plot, deep characterisation, and detailed description make The Scots of Dalriada a great read. Fans of historical fiction set in Scotland and Ireland in particular will enjoy it.
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