Book No 2: "The Scots of Dalriada"
Rowena Kinread gives us another rousing historical novel..
Fergus, Loarn and Angus, Princes of the Dalriada, are forced into exile by their scheming half-brother and the druidess Birga One-tooth.
Fergus conceals himself as a stable lad on Aran and falls helplessly in love with a Scottish princess, already promised to someone else. Loarn crosses swords against the Picts. Angus designs longboats.
TOGETHER A MIGHTY POWER
Always on the run the brothers must attempt to outride their adversaries by gaining power themselves. Together they achieve more than they could possibly dream of.
Fergus Mór (The Great) is widely recognised as the first King of Scotland, giving Scotland its name and its language. Rulers of Scotland and England from Kenneth mac Alpín until the present time claim descent from Fergus Mór.
Full of unexpected twists and turns, this is a tale of heart-breaking love amidst treachery, deceit and murder.
The BookViral Review:
Beginning with the marriage of Erc of Dalriada to his first wife Marca at the age of fifteen and covering the period up until his death in 474AD, Kinread gives us a rousing historical novel and a fine example of what can happen when good writing and extensive research come together.
Erc of Dalriada is a man whose belief in honour and whose love for his second wife Mista, family, and clan make him a figure to cheer for and it’s through him that readers are drawn into the lifelong conflict between his sons Fergus and Cartan who would see himself as King.
What’s best about The Scots of Dalriada: Fergus Mór is the vivid images Kinread conveys of time and place (fifth-century Ireland and Scotland), and the kinds of personalities produced by a world where alliances were often fleeting and fraught with danger.
Suffice it to say that Kinread weaves an exciting web of a story that is interspersed with gem like facts and insight that so often many writers of historical fiction fail to mention and her superb eye for detail is a tribute to her desire to bring the many facets of a tough existence to life.
Given the extended period of The Scots of Dalriada the story outline could have produced yet another tired historical epic with which the genre has become inundated with but Kinread juggles an extensive cast of supporting characters to retain the intrigue throughout. Among them, the return of Saint Patrick as his story from The Missionary is continued and other significant historical figures such as Ceretic Guletic of Alt Clut who was king of Alt Clut.
Central to Kinread’s narrative is the conflict between Fergus, whose subsequent importance as the founder of Scotland in the national myth of Medieval and Renaissance Scotland is not in doubt, and Cartan. Theirs is a complex tale with Cartan’s bitter hatred for Fergus painting him as a cunning and despicable character who is credited with the murder of Erc of Dalriada and his wife Mista among other heinous crimes against Erc’s lineage.
Another original and applaudable novel from Kinread which is sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction and avid historians alike,
The Scots of Dalriada: Fergus Mór is highly recommended.
Review by Deborah Swift, award-winning- best seller- author of historical fiction
"I bought this book on #KindleUnlimited and admit I knew nothing about early Scottish or Irish history, so this was really interesting. It is not for the faint-hearted as early on in the book it contains the sort of sex and violence you might expect from warring tribes of this era. Hand to hand fighting with sword and fists is a very different battlefield to that of today. Don’t let this put you off though, as it is extremely well-researched with episodes covering a vast swathe of history. The sort of hand to mouth existence is well-described, the flat-bottomed boats, the reliance on horses, the language of Brittonic, the burns and brochs, the rocks and seashore. I loved the travel between Scotland and Ireland, and the description of life in the Irish fort at Tara, Meath.
I enjoyed Fergus’ character as he grows and develops. The characters are rough men, used to fighting, manipulating, wielding threats and death to those that cross them. Erc was a great character – he dispenses the wisdom born of age, and came across as hard-headed but realistic. ‘If you receive favours instead of being a leader by merit, then your men will not trust you wholly, nor follow you blindly’.
There is a lot in this novel and you have to keep your wits about you as a reader as it zips from place to place. Rowena Kinread’s love of the history of these people shines through and for anyone interested in their Scottish or Irish origins, or early Christian and Druid history, it is a must read."
Review for The Scots of Dalriada from Cathie Dunn, an award-winning and Amazon-bestselling author.
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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