FREEDOM'S SWORD is a novel based on a real figure of history, a Scottish knight who fought fiercely against the tyranny of the English crown in the closing years of the 13th Century. Sir Andrew de Moray was a contemporary of William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame; indeed, Wallace and Moray were co-commanders at the great battle of Stirling Bridge in which the Scots pulled off a stunning victory against a vastly superior English force.
Some historians contend that many of the exploits attributed to Wallace were actually the accomplishments of Andrew de Moray – although they were both pretty tough customers.
It may or may not be fair to say that if you have seen the movie Braveheart starring Mel Gibson, then you will have an idea of the exact flavor, tenor, tone, sentiment and rendering of this novel.
As a historical novel, this is accurate enough in terms of keeping to the historical record. The majority of readers will find this entertaining enough to be well worth what they paid for it, and the time they spend reading it.
However, I’m can’t give this book sky-high marks for a variety of reasons:
• As historical novels go, this is not a work of deep scholarship. For example, there is no way this book is in the same league as works such as “Lincoln” or “Julian” by Gore Vidal, or, say, “Poland” or “Hawaii” by James Michener. Rather, Freedom’s Sword leverages just as much of the historical record it needs to serve merely as a backdrop for a popular entertainment novel. (There's nothing wrong with that -- just sayin'). But the fact is, this book does not attempt to revisit a key historical period with depth of analysis and detail to really make us see the times in a new way, or in a way that makes us think deeply or about what was.
• The narrative is oddly disjointed and jarring at times. The author fails to weave together the individual lives and alternating events in a way that makes it flow smoothly throughout the novel.
• A few chapters involving de Moray’s courting, marriage and relationship with his wife shift abruptly in tone from the rest of the novel – it’s as if someone took three or four chapters from a bodice-ripping, blushing romance novel and inserted amid a historical war drama. Again, this demonstrates the disjointed nature of the book.
• The author, J.R. TOMLIN, rightfully informs us that her depiction of de Moray’s wife is 100% fictional since no records of the real Lady de Moray exist. That’s fine, except the character she creates is a standard cliché of the genre– a feisty, irrepressible Scottish lass with flaming red hair who can take down a deer with a bow while mastering her steed -- and who also eagerly sizzles with hot sexual passion under the embrace of her hero’s “rough, callused hands.”
• The book, this Kindle version at least, is poorly edited from first chapter through last.
Don't get me wrong -- not every historical novel should strive to be or needs to be a scholarly, weighty masterpiece involving years of deep research, personal interviews and combing through ancient, dusty museum records that are yellow, dusty and crackling with age -- some may leverage just enough information from common sources to create the background for a good yarn. This book does that.
Ken Korczak is the author of: BIRD BRAIN GENIUS