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A Knight's Loyalty is Tested - an Editorial Review of "The Lion of Galloway"

Book Blurb:

An uneasy truce. A threat of rebellion. A knight’s loyalty is tested to the limit...

Scotland and England have signed a truce, but a peaceful life is not to be as Archibald Douglas faces threats from nobles rebelling against King David. Meanwhile, the old enemy, England, plots with Scots in Galloway to hang onto pieces of Scotland they still control. Archibald, faithful to his vow to the king, fends off one enemy while he battles to destroy the other in a rousing adventure of blood, battle, love, devotion, and treachery...

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Author Bio:

J R Tomlin is the author of nineteen historical novels.

Her historical novels are mainly set in Scotland. You can trace her love of that nation to the stories her grandmother read her when she was small and to her hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite mountains have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun.

In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, mainland Europe and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.

Editorial Review:

Master storyteller J. R. Tomlin continues her tale of Archibald Douglas in her fourth novel The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland. Set just four years after King Edward III led an English army into the lands of Scotland, The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland explores the developing noble rebellions in Scotland as England prepares to maintain control of various areas of Scotland all while a truce has supposedly been called between the two countries.. Archibald is loyal to his king and will find himself in a battle against multiple enemies that will test that loyalty. Besides the expected battles, romance and politics are major players throughout this novel helping to draw readers into a pivotal time in history.

The chief herald shouted to announce the entrance of King David and Queen Joan. Trumpeters blew a flourish. The King entered with the queen on his arm. He wore a crimson silk surcoat with the royal lion rampant embroidered on the breast in gold, his brown beard neatly trimmed to a point. We all bowed, and he gave me a warm smile as he went by. Four years older than the king, the queen was stiff-faced with glittering blue eyes that angrily scanned the great hall for something, though I could not tell for what—or whom.”

While the book is the fourth in a series, readers will find that they have no problem getting into the story and understanding the characters. The author does a great job explaining everything that readers might need to know from previous novels within the story. The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland easily works as a standalone novel and can be enjoyed without having read the previous novels.

I am glad you were there that I finally found you. I had sought you since the night of the feast." I brushed my lips against her silky cheek. She trembled, and I drew her against me to enjoy the warmth of her flesh, my fingers tangling in the raven fall of her hair. I bent to kiss her.”

One of the biggest strengths that can be seen in Tomlin’s writing throughout The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland is the rich detail and imagery that instantly transports readers back in time. The descriptions that Tomlin skillfully crafts are vivid and beautiful, particularly of the castles.

Without moving, I kept my shield high to protect my head and pointed my sword at his eyes. He feinted. I stepped back. I watched his eyes as I held my stance. He stepped forward again. I leapt toward him with a straight thrust at his chest. He caught it on his shield and pushed it to the side as he swung his sword in a horizontal cut. I caught it on my shield.”

There is something for everyone within The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland. The intended audience is most likely those who enjoy historical fiction. While the book certainly qualifies as historical fiction and will be loved by historical fiction fans, readers will also find romance and action along with history. Tomlin has done an incredible job at creating characters that fit into the historical landscape in which she is writing but that still appeal to readers emotionally. Readers will find themselves invested in romances, challenges, and history throughout the whole book.

There was a brief pause. No one wanted to talk about the plague that was once again sweeping across England. Even the thought of it made me shudder. Better to die in battle than the horror of the buboes swelling until they burst as your life was sucked out of you.”

Another element of The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland that is well done is the history contained within the book. The author seems to have a clear love for the medieval history of Scotland and England and has gone above and beyond to research these events and reference them throughout the novel. She has painted what seems to be a very accurate picture of what life was like during this time in history. The author also does a particularly good job bringing the battle and jousting scenes to life for the reader.

Laying siege is always boring. Men tended their armor and weapons and practiced with swords and spears. Whoever could sing, and some who could not, tried to entertain each other.”

The only element of The Lion of Galloway: A Historical Novel of Scotland that may prove problematic for some readers is the dialogue. While the dialogue between characters is well-written and feels natural rather than forced. Tomlin effectively incorporates dialects, particularly those representing Scotland, into the dialogue. While this provides a more authentic experience and helps to develop more authentic characters it does take some getting used to and can require some parts to have to be reread. Once readers understand the dialect and adjust, it shouldn’t pose a problem.

You cannae win without the Stewart. How many mouths to feed do you have inside that castle? How long can your food last? You cannae survive on well water. Yield, and the King will allow you to renew your fealty. It may humiliate you, but you and your men will be alive. He doesnae intend to forfeit your lands.”

An incredibly well-told story, great historical elements, a mixing of genres, and rich details create a novel that easily earns a five out of five rating. Readers will be engaged and enthralled with Tomlin’s storytelling and will no doubt have a new appreciation for medieval history in Scotland and England.


“The Lion of Galloway” receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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