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Blog Tour and Book Excerpt for "The Douglas Bastard" by J. R. Tomlin



Author Bio:

J. R. Tomlin is the author of nineteen historical novels.

She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh while growing up. Her historical novels are set for the most part in Scotland. Her love of that nation is traced from the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read to her when she was small, to hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writing was influenced by Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, Nigel Tranter, and Sir Walter Scott.

When JR isn't writing, she enjoys hiking, playing with her Westie, and killing monsters in computer games. In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, Europe, and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.

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Website: jrtomlin.com



Book Title: The Douglas Bastard

Series: (A sequel to The Black Douglas Trilogy)

Author: J R Tomlin

Publication Date: 26th April 2022

Publisher: Albannach Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction



Book Title and Author Name:


The Douglas Bastard

(A sequel to The Black Douglas Trilogy)

By J R Tomlin



Book Blurb


The Black Douglas is dead. With Scotland's greatest knight no more, the throne is up for grabs as enemies try to devour the kingdom.


An orphaned youth returning from exile, Archibald, the Black Douglas's bastard son, fights for a land being torn apart from within and without. If Archibald is to survive, he must learn to sleep with a claymore in his hand and one eye open because even his closest friend might betray him...


This is an adventure set in the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence when Scotland's very survival is in question.


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Book Excerpt


After splashing my face and hands, I pulled on my good blue wool chausses, tying them to the belt of my breeches, donned my good tunic that went to mid-thigh, and pulled a comb through the snarls in my black hair. Black like my father’s. I smiled.


Tall towers flanked both sides of the gate to the inner bailey, but the gate was open. It was a typical late morning, a servant trod to the kitchen with a large goose under each arm, a boy was scooping up piles of horseshit, a big-bellied priest rushed toward the latrine tower, and on each side of the door to the keep stood a guard holding a pike.


One of the guards opened the thick oaken door. The antechamber was empty, but people were talking in the great hall, a vast room with white walls painted with frescoes of knights fighting. King David was smiling as he stood talking with Sir William of Liddesdale. He wore a fine silk tunic belted low around his hips with a silver hilted dagger hanging in the front. With them were a score of men, most of whom I knew.


Sir William saw me but continued talking, so I circled the room until I was close enough to listen. Sir Malcolm Fleming, David's foster father, raised an eyebrow and the king sent me a sympathetic smile. I lowered my eyes so I would look like a well-behaved page and stood quietly. Fleming went back to speaking in a low voice to Robert the Keith, the Marischal.


"Your return should be soon, Your Grace. We have discussed it much at home and feel that you should return as soon as you are seventeen—a good age to begin to lead in some of the fighting," Sir William said.


"I agree, Liddesdale," Sir Malcolm put in. "But we have much planning to do first.”


Pierre Roger, Bishop of Arras, nodded. His shimmering red cloak flowed to his ankles above his black cassock. I wouldn’t mind having a cloak like that. But not by being a priest!


"I think I am ready. King Philip even let me join him when he rode to defend Cambrai." The King furrowed his brow in a disappointed look. "The English ran, so there was no fighting.”


"You will have more chances to fight them, sire, I can promise—in only another year or two when you come home. In the meantime, we expect to retake Perth and Edinburgh for you." Sir William turned to a powerfully built man, lean with a stern face marked by a scar across his cheek, and said, "Sieur Arnoul, I have not thanked you sufficiently for your news. Men-at-arms and crossbowmen both! I would I had time to go to Paris to express my gratitude to King Philip.”


The Frenchman inclined his head slightly in reply. "I believe we will give the English an interesting surprise.”


"I should be there," David said, still frowning. “I must show my people that I am nae afraid to fight.”


Fleming gave the King a fond look. "I am sure if there is more fighting in France, the King will invite you to join him again.”


"Forbye, Your Grace, that gives us time to increase your skills," Robert the Keith added. "And there will be a tournament in Paris for you to ride in next month.”


David's face lit up at the mention of a tournament. "That will be braw." He turned back to Sir William. "Are there tournaments in Scotland?”


"Between we Scots, not often, sire, as we are too busy fighting the English, but we often arrange a tournament with our enemies when there is a truce." His slight smile had a feral cast. "Sometimes au outrance.”


"Truly?" The King's eyes widened. "Have you done so?”


"Only once to the death, sire. The English seem wary of jousting with me, and truces are not so common that I often have the chance. This attack on Perth is more likely to allow me to show the point of my sword to an Englishman.”


"My men and wagons of arms and armor will leave for Boulogne on the morrow," Sieur Arnoul said. "I suggest that we follow the next day. We will want to move as quickly and secretly as possible.”


"You fear traitors?" Abbot William Dalgarnock of Kelso, the King's tutor, asked.


"Fear? No, I would not say fear, but it is always possible that someone, a merchant mayhap, would profit by selling information to the English. We will take no chances.”


Sir William gave a sharp nod. "Then we are agreed.”


I shifted and stared hard at the knight, willing him to remember his promise.


"I have not forgotten, lad," he said, sounding amused.


Everyone looked at me. My face burned, but I stood straight with my shoulders back, trying as hard as I could to look older.


"He wants to join my service as my page." Sir William brushed his lips with his hand. "He is my cousin's git, after all, so fostering him is a family obligation. One I do not mind taking on.”


"But . . ." David wrinkled his brow. "If it is too dangerous for me, it must be for him as well.”


"No one will be looking to capture him as they would you, sire. Despite his father's fame." He tilted his head and gave me a considering look. "A love-bairn with no father must make his own way in the world, and I can teach him how to do that."


The Keith cleared his throat. "His father was my good-brother and a comrade-in-arms. He would want a good start for the lad.”


"James isnae here, but I will do the best that I can for him.”


My face grew even hotter as they talked about me as though I could not hear. I gripped my hands into fists. If I spoke up, the men would say I would do as I was told, but David motioned for me to come closer.


"What say you, Archie?" King David drew his brows together and pushed his hair off his forehead. "Do you want to join his service?”


"Aye." I could not contain my grin and a little bounce. "I do.”


"Och, it may be a hard place to learn." He still looked doubtful. "But he is your sire's cousin after all.”


"Sir William is the only family with a castle presently to take him in for training. Hugh Douglas"—Sir Malcolm grimaced—"absolutely would not do, and the other William, his cousin, is too young. When we return to Scotland, some decision would have to be made regarding the lad anyroad, so I suggest you allow it, Your Grace.”


"That is good, then." The King looked down at the dagger hanging from his belt and pulled it from its sheath. He held it out to me hilt first. "A gift, lad. For luck.”


It had a long blade and a silver hilt, and I bowed deeply as I stroked it. A laugh tried to bubble up, but I was afraid King David would be offended, so I swallowed it down. I felt as though I was glowing, as though my happiness must beam from me. "When you return, I can serve you too, Your Grace."


David’s eyes crinkled in a smile.


"I will. You will see.”


"You're a good lad, Archie." Sir Malcolm patted my shoulder. "Go pack your things.”


When I reached our chamber, Will greeted me with a grin. "You broke his nose! Now he sounds like a pig snorting when he talks. But are you in trouble?”


I gave him a shove on the shoulder. "If I am, it's the best kind. I'm leaving for Scotland with one of my cousins, the Knight of Liddesdale.”


Will's eyes widened. "Will they let you fight?”


"I will be a page, so they will try to stop me." I laughed, not able to contain it. "But I heard them talking. Everyone will be going home soon, so soon we can fight together. It will be braw. It will be the brawest thing that ever happened!”


A servant entered carrying a new cloak and two new tunics as a parting gift from Sir Malcolm, and I began stuffing my few possessions into a canvas bag.

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