John Crabbe (The John Swale Chronicles)

John Crabbe (The John Swale Chronicles #9)
By: David Pilling
(http://pillingswritingcorner.blogspot.com/)
Musa Publishing 2012
an historical fiction review

 

John Crabbe returns the chronicles to tempestuous Scotland, with pirates at the helm.  Notorious pirate John Crabbe finds himself facing defiant nobility on and off the water.

Pilling deploys his excellent introductory skills to meld excitement and tension into the debut of his first sea bandit.  The pace whips everything along so briskly that this short work feels even shorter than it really is.  The variety of conflicts, both internal and external, keeps John Crabbe in choppy emotional waters while the action keeps it salty.  It’s a harsh voyage to read, but one that offers all the expected thrills of piracy within the darker context of Scotland’s impending warfare.

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The Pretender (The John Swale Chronicles)

The Pretender (The John Swale Chronicles #7)
By: David Pilling
(http://pillingswritingcorner.blogspot.com/)
Musa Publishing 2012
an historical fiction review

 

The Pretender introduces Edward Balliol, the man whose claim to the Scottish throne is pulling the tides of English and Scottish politics.  With Robert the Bruce’s child son on the Scottish throne and Edward III brimming with ambition, conflict can’t be far off.  This work elaborates on the players of the upcoming struggle while plainly illustrating how the power of kings and countries trickles down to influence the fortunes of everyone.

A short work with a lot to set up, The Pretender is a waiting piece, adding tinder to the fireplace but not yet striking up flames.

The Black Lion of Forbes (The John Swale Chronicles)

The Black Lion of Forbes (The John Swale Chronicles #5)
By: David Pilling
(http://pillingswritingcorner.blogspot.com/)
Musa Publishing 2012
an historical fiction review

 

The Black Lion of Forbes destroyed John Swale’s ancestral home and thrust the survivors onto different life tracks.  This piece of David Pilling’s saga introduces Richard Swale’s point of view and reveals what became of John’s missing sister Margaret.

Centered on flashbacks of The Black Lion of Forbes’ attack, this book includes a lot of graphic detail, necessary to understanding the drastic consequences of that night.  This work is all about revealing the Swale siblings and connecting their present positions to their shared tragedy with John, like showing the same light source reflected in different colors of glass.  It’s a skilled short story that expands the horizons of The John Swale Chronicles into new environments, while intensifying the personal, emotional world of John’s family.