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Genre - Historical Fiction
Rating - PG
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My novel A Kingdom’s Cost is two things, both a war novel and a coming of age novel in which a young James Douglas goes from being a penniless squire to one of the most feared knights in British history. Yet at the same time, he was known as a quiet spoken, gentle man by those who knew him.
Purely by coincidence, page 99 of A Kingdom’s Cost is the major turning point in the novel.
The early 14th century Scotland of this novel was a dangerous place where survival was often in question. But when James Douglas threw his lot in the rebel king, Robert the Bruce, his survival became much more in question. Yet at first, as the Bruce was crowned and gathered his forces to force the English conqueror out of Scotland, the danger seemed distant.
Purely by coincidence, page 99 is a major turning point. Everything in the first part of the novel leads up to this point.
Robert the Bruce’s army is camped for the night, not expecting combat until the next day. Suddenly, they are attacked and battle ensues against an enemy that not only has the advantage of surprise but larger numbers and superior weapons and armor.
In the confusion of the dark night camp they can barely tell friend from enemy and their forces are scattered, so the king, with James Douglas by his side, leads a desperate ride to cut through their.
“It’s Bruce,” Mowbray yelled. They charged.
James went cold. The only chance was to break free. Otherwise, they were dead men. All of the attention was on the king as they charged straight at him. James crowded in, raising his shield to protect the Bruce’s flank as they slashed their way through the line of attackers. One slashed at the king. James caught the blade with his shield, thrusting under to send the man reeling from the saddle.
What I have to show on this page is the collapse of Scottish hopes and (by the next page) a royal army reduced to outlaws on the run. And in doing this I need to show young James Douglas growing from a boy into a man, a warrior whose loyalty to King Robert the Bruce and to Scotland never wavers.
From page 99 through the rest of the novel, at no point can any of the characters in A Kingdom’s Cost count on survival from one moment to the next.