Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars
1546, and Scotland is bludgeoned by Henry VIII, determined to marry his son to the infant Mary, Queen of Scots. A few among the Scottish nobles, for both political and religious reasons, are eager for this alliance too. They kill Cardinal Beaton, who is Mary’s great protector, and take St Andrews Castle, expecting rescue any day from England.
For a sister and brother, spirited Bethia and rebellious Will, living in St Andrews and caught up on opposite sides, the siege becomes a fight for survival. As the long blockade unravels, it also becomes a test of their loyalties and what’s more important: to save their family, stay true to their beliefs, or to save themselves.
This debut novel closely follows the tumultuous events of the siege of St Andrews Castle, and its dramatic re-taking
‘A clever blend of fact and fiction, with engaging characters, gripping action, tension and drama galore, and a dash of romance. For lovers of Scotland and Scottish history this is a great read.’ Margaret Skea: winner of the Beryl Bainbridge Award.
‘The setting, the history and the characters all come together in a perfect blend. I highly recommend this intriguing novel.’ Jean M Roberts
‘The darker side of St Andrews Castle’s history, written with such delightful detail I could almost taste and smell the medieval streets of the historic town!’ Lynsey Maxwell
‘This book has everything I like – suspense, romance and humour. Beautifully descriptive and left me thinking about the characters even after I finished reading it.’
Finalist, Wishing Shelf Book Awards
The Reformation is in its’ infancy! Martin Luther has started a movement that will separate brother from brother, father from son and countries will wage war as a result. The early years in the 1500’s were not a great time to be alive! The control of the family is ruled by a dictatorial father and a society can turn against a family in an instant. The ruling class is only too happy to seize a families’ property and turn them out into the street penniless.
A man is being burned at the stake for preaching the gospel in opposition to the Catholic Church. Elspeth’s brother Will is outraged as are many of the people in the city. Will and a group of reformers calling themselves The Castilians take over the castle of the local Cardinal Beaton who has exacted large “tithes” from the local population. The Cardinal is living in splendor in Castle St. Andrews. The Castle was the former home of a Queen of Scotland. The storehouse is filled with all kinds of excellent foods and drinks while food is scarce for the population.
Occupying the castle is the central theme of the story. I found the accompanying theme of Elspeth trying to save her brother even more compelling. She is a strong lass who often ignores her father in attempts to aid and save her brothers’ life. The description of the castle and its’ surrounds paint a vivid scene of life during that time period.
Unaccompanied young females are looked upon with avarice and wonton lust! Elspeth’s endeavors to get food and other necessities to her brother put her in danger of rape, although she does have some young men in the community who look after and protect her from some of these miscreants. Meanwhile her father is looking for a convenient marriage for his daughter. This will keep him in the lifestyle to which he has become accustomed. Family alliances are critical to maintaining this good lifestyle.
International trade and pilgrimage are part of the charm of the town. Elspeth becomes very interested in one of these pilgrims who came to pray at the local St. Andrews Cathedral. She is torn between obeying her father, helping her brother, and avoiding being paired with a local fat but affluent man. He is called “Fat Norman.” He is solicitous towards Elspeth and seems a gentle soul. She could do worse!
Overall, the flavor of this narrative is both engaging and enlightening. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in historical environs and strong protagonists. 5 stars-C.E. Williams
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author through direct request. This in no way swayed my opinion and these are my unbiased thoughts.
Genre: Historical British & Irish Literature, Historical Scottish Fiction, Scottish Historical Romance
Publisher: Nydie Books
- ASIN : B08NYSLN9Z
Print Length: 239 pages
Publication Date: November 26, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Castilians
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The Author: VEH Masters was born and grew up on a farm just outside of St. Andrews in Scotland. She’s been fascinated by the siege of St Andrews Castle ever since her history teacher took the class on a visit, which included going down the siege tunnel dug out of rock and peering into the bottle dungeon where Cardinal Beaton’s body is said to have been kept, pickled in salt, for over a year.
She’s lived for most of her life nearby and St Andrews is one of her two favourite places in the world. She now lives between Penicuik and Peebles, which are both pretty amazing towns too.
The Castilians is her debut novel and she’s currently working on a sequel. Find her on Twitter and her Website.
©2021 CE Williams – V Williams