The Cunninghame / Montgomery feud which is the backdrop to this novel began in 1488 when James IV of Scotland gave control of the Balliewick of Cunninghame to a Montgomerie – not exactly a master-stroke!
The next 130 years were punctuated by acts of brutality, attack and counter attack, treachery, and murder carried out with equal ferocity by both sides. As one 18th century history of Ayrshire puts it – these families were the Montagues and Capulets of Ayrshire and blood feud was the tenor of the times.
I chose to open my novel in 1586 with a brutal act which resulted not only in many deaths but which led James VI to intervene to halt the bloodshed.
Munro is trapped in this feud and battles with his conscience and with divided loyalties – his ancient obligations to the Cunninghames, his wife and young family, and most dangerous of all, a growing friendship with the opposing clan.
Action moves between the domestic setting of the fortified houses in which all the characters live and the pageantry of the court of the young James VI.
The Munro family and a couple of other main characters are fictional, but most are ‘real’ however the interpretation of their character and actions is mine. In reality both sides in the conflict were as bad as each other, but every story needs a hero and a villain – it was my choice to cast The head of the Cunninghame clan, The Earl of Glencairn, and his heir William as the primary villains. The real Patrick Maxwell, a crony of William’s, was much worse than I have depicted him, gaining notoriety for abusing his wife, who at one point sought an injunction from James VI to prevent him from coming near her! (She didn’t get it, but it’s amazing that she even tried.)