Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Freedom's Sword by J.R. Tomlin

I recieved this e-book from the author in return for a review. Thank you!

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Before William Wallace... before Robert the Bruce... there was another Scottish hero...

In 1296, newly knighted by the King of the Scots, Andrew de Moray fights to defend his country against the forces of the ruthless invader, King Edward Longshanks of England. After a bloody defeat in battle, he is dragged in chains to an English dungeon.

Soon the young knight escapes. He returns to find Scotland under the heel of a conqueror and his betrothed sheltering in the hills of the Black Isle.

Seizing his own castle, he raises the banner of Scottish freedom. Now he must lead the north of Scotland to rebellion in hope of defeating the English army sent to crush them.

This novel is first and foremost, about Andrew Moray's brief military career, from just before the Battle of Dunbar through his death resulting from the the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Andrew is captured after the English victory at Dunbar, and imprisoned for a time at Chester but eventual manufactured his own escape although he is wounded doing so. He manages to reach his father's lands up in northern Scotland and rallys some of his fathers men who were able to escape after Dunbar. They begin with dealing out retribution on the English occupying Scottish castles, beginning with Moray's own. The vast majority of the novel focuses on Moray's battle experiences and the aftermath, from imprisonment to injury, recovery and planning. Battle scenes are descriptive, even the time devoted to them isn't terribly long, so the reader gets a good picture of what happens during the fighting.

We also meet Caitrina, younger daughter of the Lord of Avoch Castle, one whose lands neighbors that of Moray's. A bit rebellious and not that adept at some of the standard skills befitting a lady, so does not wish to willingly accept her destiny of becoming a nun. She was not in the castle when the English captured it, so she escaped the ill treatment her sister experienced. Afterwards, the sisters and their mother hide in a village outside of Avoch Castle, until Moray recaptures his home and welcomes the ladies to stay with him. She is the only major and for the most part, fictional character according to the author's note. I really liked Caitrina- she has a somewhat modern personality, although it is not so modern that it clashes with the medieval story.

It is a faced paced read, and keeps moving fairly well. It didn't bog down at the battle scenes, as some books who also deal with war can for me. The only thing I would have liked to see was a bit more about Andrew's domestic life to provide a bit of balance to all the scenes in battle, prison or working with his troops. It was a nice, quick introduction to a Scottish hero who has been outshined in history by William Wallace.

I gave this 4 Stars