My bedtime reading has returned to the Nigel Tranter re-read project. The latest is True Thomas, a story about Sir Thomas Learmonth of Ercildoune, also known as Thomas the Rhymer. The setting is yet again during the reign of Alexander III (6 July 1249 – 19 March 1286), something of an obsession with Tranter as this is the third novel set during his reign. Sir Thomas' lands were also quite close to where Tranter lived.
Sir Thomas was a poet with a reputation as the author of many prophetic verses. Most famously the death of Alexander III, which led to one of the most turbulent periods of Scottish history. This being medieval Scotland, he still participated in the fighting, including the Battle of Largs and the Rout of Ronaldsay (Isle of Man). In the story, Tranter puts him close to the King and so to the other significant events of the period. As always, relations with England were important. Once the Baron's War ended and Edward I came to the throne, this relationship stepped up a gear.
A novel about a Scottish poet may not sound very exciting, but Tranter does his best with a relatively quiet historical period. We also know relatively little about his actual life, which gave Tranter some scope beyond his poetry. As a result, I enjoyed this one more than I expected.
Next up is Wallace and then the Bruce trilogy. I can feel the need to dust down my Bannockburn armies!
|Some of my 28mm Scots infantry of the period.