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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

... 'she failed to free her mother from her cage but ... her mother's suffering had not been in vain'

I very much enjoyed this last of the Highland Guard series. (Hold for a few moments of heartfelt sobbing as this reader farewells a series she's absolutely loved! I can see a binge reread happening in the very near future!)
The turning of a 9 year old into a committed and fervent supporter of the Scottish King when Joan Comyn is forced that day to watch the torture of her mother Bella McDuff, forges the steely conviction to do all she can for the Robert the Bruce. She swears it on that day.

Now Joan, disinherited and declared a bastard is acting as her cousin's maid, is a spy within the English court, gathering secrets and delivering them to the Bruce. By the Way, Joan's  cousin is a piece of work; demanding ,selfish and vain. I really don't like her, and seems neither do many others.
Alex Seton is a Scottish border lord, who once stood with Bruce . He turned away from that allegiance in an attempt to look for a better way for the ravaged borderers. He is now labelled 'traitor' by his highland brothers. 
Alex has been set to find the traitor in the English court. He is a man who stands firmly by his knighthood oath of chivalry and honor. That oath will be tested beyond endurance as he searches for the unknown enemy, The Ghost. Meanwhile, Joan is attempting to find out what Scottish and English lords  have or have not sent forces, troop numbers and locations and likely attack areas so that the  Bruce can strike a telling blow against the English army and their Scottish supporters. The stakes are high!
This was not my favourite amongst the Highland Guard books. I really see it as a 4 star read but I rounded that up to 5 when I considered where it sits within the series, the magnetic appeal of the whole series, and the appropriateness of the mystery of Ghost being unveiled as the 'tour de force', in a fitting manner as the last of the series.

A NetGalley ARC


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