HISTORICAL NOVEL SOCIETY (On-line)
A review by Catherine Kullmann
The Wolf of Dalriada
BY ELIZABETH GATES
Confused by the frequent changes of location, date and point of view, it took some time for me to come to grips with this episodic novel of derring-do and villainy set in Western Scotland in 1793.
Amid echoes of Culloden and Glencoe, the Highland clearances are underway in Argyll. Powerful men and schemers, both Scottish and English, jockey for position and control in Dalriada where Malcolm Craig Lowrie must fend off overt and subtle attacks as he strives to protect his people, preserve his lands and defend his honour. When fate brings his cousin’s bride, Emma, into the orbit of the mysterious Lady Robinson, a new sequence of events begins that will change everything.
Gates steers the reader through her intricate plot with a steady hand. She describes a society that is more feudal than modern, where might is right and the rule of law—any law—has a tenuous hold at best; an impression that is reinforced by reports from France of the beginning of the reign of terror and the execution of the queen. The scene-setting is excellent, whether of an uneasy midsummer’s ball, a daring ride or a sleazy, quayside inn, and the characters are well-drawn and well-defined. As the villains’ nets tighten around their quarries, we never lose hope that our hero will manage to foil their plots and gain his lady.
Sara Beatty (Reviewer) has just reviewed The Wolf of Dalriada.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This is a long over due review. I’ve had this book for like 3 months now, and it has got to get checked off my to do list.
Generally I’m am never so unsure of a book as I am with this one. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think that it was my type of book persay. I selected to review this book because I am a fan of some of the things it features. Like history and politics. That being said I wasn’t let down. The writing was amazing, the character development and the setting were as well.
I really do believe that Gates did a great job here with The Wolf of Dalriada. I also think that it’s not the book’s fault I wasn’t thrilled entirely with it. I read this completely when I was going through a rough patch, and that may or may not have to do with my feelings towards it. My feelings being sort of neutral in this case.
I’m going to give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was brilliantly written just not for me at the time.
A 4* Discovering Diamonds Review of THE WOLF OF DALRIADA by Elizabeth Gates
Amazon UK £8.99
Amazon US $5
Amazon CA n/a
Family Drama / Adventure
France / Scotland
“It is 1793… As Europe watches the French Revolution’s bloody progress, uneasy Scottish landowners struggle to secure their wealth and power. And, in Dalriada – the ancient Kingdom of Scotland – fractured truths, torn loyalties and bloody atrocities are rife. Can anyone ride the maelstrom of these dangerous times? Only, it seems, Malcolm Craig Lowrie – the legendary Wolf of Dalriada.
In remote Argyll, people cry out to the young laird for protection against the evil of the Clearances. And there is also a beautiful Frenchwoman – staked as a child on the turn of a card – now living in thrall to her debauched captor, Sir William Robinson. But can the Wolf of Dalriada safeguard his people? Can the Wolf defeat enemies who, like the spirit of Argyll’s Corryvrecken Whirlpool, threaten to engulf them all?”
Part political intrigue, part romance, part mysticism, this debut novel, The Wolf of Dalriada, explores the upheaval of the period of the French Revolution and it is refreshing to see life in this era from the different perspective of Scotland rather than the more usual London/Paris Scarlet Pimpernel-type romantic adventure.
Perhaps a little clichéd in places with the baddies being bad and the goodies being good, and the occasional stumble with the flow of the writing where intrigue is key over action, but some of the scenery and ‘backdrop’ to the story is very nicely described so lovers of Scotland will appreciate this aspect. There could be some polishing to this debut novel, but the author has talent and a good technical editor could help bring out that talent to make Ms Gates an author to definitely watch in the future.
An entertaining tale.
© Ellen Hill
‘The Wolf of Dalriada’ by Elizabeth Gates
Published by Matador,
28 November 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-785899904 (PB)
This romantic historical adventure, in a genre stretching back to writers such as John Buchan, Margaret Irvine, and Sir Walter Scott, is set in Argyllshire on the west coast of Scotland in the late eighteenth century at a time when the French Revolution was causing turmoil throughout Europe. It begins, however, some years before with a chance meeting between Malcolm Craig Lowrie, a young clan chief, then in exile, and the beautiful child Adele (or Adelaide) de Fontenoy at the court of the French queen Marie Antoinette. She befriends him; he never forgets her nor she him, although they do not meet again for 10 years. By that time she has been living with the elderly and corrupt English lawyer, Sir William Robinson, to whom Adele’s equally corrupt father had sold her in exchange for a gambling debt when she was a child. Since then, he has kept Adele in virtual isolation in his grand mansion in Argyllshire, Robinson Hall, apart from her priest, Father John Macdonald. She has so far violently repulsed Robinson’s advances. Now there is an unexpected visitor: Lady Emma Bamburgh who is fleeing from Malcolm Craig Lowrie whom she believes has murdered his cousin James Craig Lowrie whom she was about to marry. Emma, believing that Malcolm will murder her next, seeks refuge with Robinson who is an old friend of her father’s, the Earl of Bamburgh. Malcolm, ten years after his fateful encounter with Adele, is still a wanted man but is determined to protect his clansmen from the oppression of the Duke of Argyll, chief of the mighty Clan Campbell with whom Robinson is anxious to form a relationship profitable to himself. Malcolm’s ruthless vengeance for his people’s wrongs has earned him the name of The Wolf of Dalriada. Meanwhile the French Revolution has broken out and Adele fears that her father and her sister Gabrielle are in deadly danger. Will Malcolm and Adele find each other and fulfil their love? Will Robinson’s plans to marry Adele and to earn the favour of the Duke come to fruition? And what will happen to the Lady Emma?
Dalriada was a real kingdom in the first millennium AD which at its height ruled over much of the West Highlands and a portion of what is now Northern Ireland. Although it had come to an end by about 800 AD, no doubt the name lingered in legend in Argyll for centuries. The author uses it as a starting point for this, her first novel, which is a stirring historical romance which she tackles with immense gusto and a truly imaginative recreation of the period and the location.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.