I was introduced to the works of Nigel Tranter when discussing Scottish Literature with Alex at The Wee Shoppe in Kinghorn; if fact I borrowed several of Nigel Tranter’s books from Alex.
The Queen’s Grace, is but one of those books, which I have recently reread. Tranter was proficient in the skill of weaving credible and nail biting tales around known facts. His novels were always well researched but also so eloquent that they draw us, the readers, back in time as if we were there. This novel is set at the time of Mary Queen of Scots when she was all but captive by her brother, James who plots for her throne. Clansmen swear their allegiance to their Queen but change sides the moment they feel it is prudent to do so. Men’s heads are cut off for crimes they have not committed and yet their honour is their bond.
Alongside these, sometime gruesome scenes are moments of warmth, tenderness and even humour, especially with those surrounding the queen herself. Her loyal subject Patrick Mac Ruary shines throughout the novel and is the constant to the end; his romance with Mary Mackintosh adding a wonderfully human touch, which I enjoyed greatly.
Not only was this an excellent book but it is a wonderful introduction to the intrigues and intricacies of Scottish history, its battles, victories and failures. What a proud nation, justly so, and it has helped me to understand the fractious, almost love – hate relationship between the Scots and the English at times to this day.
The Queens Grace was originally published in 1953 but this edition was reprinted by B & W Publishing House in 1996. It is the first of Tranter’s novels which I have reread, but I doubt if it will be the last.