I received a copy from NetGalley for review. I was not disappointed.
Initially the dialect was difficult to process but as I continued reading the story, the hook was sunk deeply into my flesh & I no longer found it challenging. There were a few words I was able to discern by usage like 'couthy' being friendly, but others like the following sentences I had to look up.
"It is the new gauger, how ready Her Majesty is when there is coin tae be collected, even all the way up in the Highlands, taken from the pockets ay honest folk, I should give ye a creesh."
A Glossary of Words and Phrases Pertaining to the Dialect of Cumberland by William Dickinson (1880) http://www.lexic.us/definition-of/creesh (1) sb. a punishment of an uncertain kind...."
"Logan, you've caused enough tranchie fur one evening," I could not find 'tranchie' anywhere online in a search but guessed it means trouble or mischief.
"I canna believe yer standing in the middle ay the drawing room completely unfleggit, nae mind tae mah purpie-smiles," At first I thought 'unfleggit' was being undressed but a search revealed it meant unafraid. As for purpie-smiles it seems to mean her embarrassed purple-red face.
"'I never dance, Captain. As a confirmed blue stocking I will hae ye know, I am terrible and all my partners limp away with sore feet.'"
From the Oxford English Dictionary: “bluestocking” usually associated with overly-intellectual women, traces back to those who attended salons in England.
"'Thank you, my dear boy, please forgive me if I dinnae stand, these bones became tae auld years ago,' I could see tiredness creeping into his eyes. 'I am well canty ye decided tae join us fur the celebrations, I dinnae think Mr. Turner thought much ay parties.'"
Canty is defined as excited or energetic.
"Sassenach" was often a disparaging use for an English inhabitant of the British Isles. It comes from Sassenaugh the Gaelic word for Saxons.
After I figured out what those meant, here is how I felt.
The story is told from the point of view of Captain Esmond Clyde-Dalton who has returned from Boston (the New World) to England in disgrace. He had married a native woman & she was killed because the Militia he served did not protect the Indians while he was off serving in another area. He attacked the Commander with full intent to kill him & injured several men in the process. He was confined to the stockade. After he was released he shaved his head to be rid of the problem with lice. Upon his return to England he refused to wear the
current wigs in style.
He went to Colonel Manners with the hope of leaving the military with a dishonorable discharge.
"'I cannot say I imagine fate would bring you through my door in such a sorry state, my boy,' he drank deeply from the liquid, watching as I contemplated my own glass. 'Your bald, head, is it the result of some mourning ritual for your dead Indian wife?'
"I held my breath as red mist distorted my vision, the bones in my knuckles showed through the skin, every muscle in my body tightened and I fought the urge to throw myself over the desk. I could feel my hands around the old man's neck, they would be stiff, as they were now. I had killed too many to count, I could gladly kill one more. I mentally stumbled and finally caught the last of my control before it slithered away; I looked steadily into Manners' face and saw not a disgusted or contemptuous look, but one of pity, of understanding."
Instead of being relieved of duty he received another military assignment where he was sent as an excise tax collector in Scotland in the Highlands. Unknown to Captain Clyde-Dalton, there is one of Colonel Manners spies already in place in that community. England was an unstable time and ripe for rebellion. The hope was to avoid a civil war.
Scotland animated gif Mel Gibson is blue faced riding into battle, a clip from Braveheart.
The town of Markinch in Scotland was his destination. He arrived at The Thistle and Rose, a drinking house which also served food and had rooms to rent.
Inside he viewed a man with a commanding attitude. He wore a "red pleated kilt, one side draped over his heart and pinned with a silver brooch."
Here's a photo of a man wearing a kilt. Draping a kilt over the left shoulder like a tartan sash is worn by the Scottish chieftan.
Captain Clyde-Dalton ended up with several misadventures in which he was injured or became ill. I was surprised that with his extensive military service that others seemed to get the best of him.
After a round of drinking with the manager of the whiskey still Deoch-an-Dorus, Beathen Clune, at his castle, he stumbles home. He hears an explosion & wanders off the path into the fen, aka bog.
He had been told how dangerous it was but ignored the caveat. In his stumbling around in the dark, he discovers two bodies half submerged in the peat bog. He pulls them out only to fall in himself and was sinking fast. He had just taken his first underwater breath only to be jostled on his only hand out of water with a stick and rescued by
Kieran, Logan's ten year old son, who was old for his age.
The Captain is interested in finding the murderer of the previous tax collector who was found hanging. There are rumors that he killed the two men found in the bog. There was a coded diary that he hopes will solve the murder. Philomena, Beathen's unmarried sister helps him decode the diary.
After that there is another attempt on the Captains life & he narrowly escapes being shot in the head. He is shot in the arm & develops another weakening bout of fever.
He recovered & felt a part of the community with the celebration of New Years, called Hogmanay. This was something he had missed his entire life. As bouts of grief over his slaughtered Indian wife begins to lessen he's begins to find Philomena attractive.
I've revealed enough spoilers so will conclude by saying, I liked the second half of the book better than the first. That's saying a lot since I gave this a 5 star review when I was half way through.
I grew quite fond of Captain Esmond Clyde-Dalton, Philomena & Kieran. I look forward to their ongoing adventures in the pending second volume, Pretender at the Gate due to be released in November 2014.
This photograph of a man wearing a kilt also showed a Scottish Thistle. Here's a bit of information about that.
"Legend of the Thistle During the Middle Ages, as the story goes, the thistle flower saved Scotland from a brutal invasion by the Norsemen. In the hopes of ambushing the Scottish army, one of the Norse soldiers took his boots off to creep softly along the grass towards the unsuspecting Scots. When he stepped on a prickly thistle, he cried out in pain. Consequently, the noise alerted the Scottish army, which drove the would-be invaders out of Scotland. The thistle flower, therefore, became known as "The Guardian Thistle."
"History of the Thistle: The first issue of the thistle as the official royal emblem of Scotland occurred during the reign of James III in 1470 and was recognized as the royal badge of The Stuarts, the British monarchy who ruled Scotland from 1371 to 1714. By 1474, the image of the thistle flower was engraved on silver coinage. And by 1570, King James V established the most prestigious and noble honor of knighthood in Scotland, known as "The Order of the Thistle." Read more: http://www.ehow.com/about_6582570_national-flower-scotland_.html