...Otherworld Legends of the Scottish King. And that is what this books gives us: legends, folklore, death, rumours, conspiracies and great stories.
This is an unusual book in that in one sense it is non-fiction. But the very nature of the stories and supernatural tales of the sixteenth-century Scottish king suggest a lot of fiction. Whatever it is, the book is a great read without being bogged down by historical facts and terminology but not forgetting the sources of information. So technically this is a history book that reads like a novel.
James is certainly an interesting character who is generally regarded as the most successful of the Stuart monarchs and holds the unfortunate record of being the last British king to be killed in battle. James declared war on England and the English king Henry VIII in 1513 to honour an agreement with Loius XII of France, with whom the English were at war. A bad decision because Henry's army was the stronger and James lost his life during that battle, which became known as the Battle of Flodden.
And this is where the story becomes very interesting.
Like all popular folk, people cannot accept a normal death of someone elite, and tales of James surviving the battle sprung up. Some were simply practical options while others were more heroic and magical, Arthurian almost. Clever politicians used some of these stories and theories to further their own ambitions while others used the tales as romantic ghost stories to keep the myth of James alive.
Added to this, King James was a shrewd man. Politically he was an effective king and worked on several peace treaties with England plus a wise marriage to Margaret Tudor, which brought about the joining of the two countries to make the United Kingdom. He was interested in science and medicine and carried out a few experiments himself and dabbled in alchemy. During his lifetime he encouraged stories of his own powers and heroics as if laying the foundations of his own folklore.
This is a fascinating book even for people who generally are not into history or historical fiction. This is the story of a legend. Highly recommended.
Published by Chronos Books April 2019.
Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.
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