1598. The French Wars of Religion are drawing to an end, the Edict of Nantes establishing religious freedom in all but Paris.
For the exiled Adam and Kate Munro, the child Kate carries symbolizes a new life free from past troubles, despite their lingering nostalgia for Scotland and the friendship of the Montgomeries.
After the Turn of the Tide and A House Divided comes By Sword and Storm, the third and final book in the Munro saga.
It’s a wonderful historical trilogy based on true events, which include the political and religious climate in France in the aftermath of the French religious wars and the feud between the Montgomerie and Cunninghame clans. After the events in the previous book, the Munro family are living in France. Kate, Maggie and Ellie reside at the family’s farm near Cayeux, while Adam and Robbie are serving in the Scots Gardes, Adam heading a company of personal bodyguards to Henri IV.
As Henri delivers the Edict of Nantes an attempt is made on his life, thwarted by Adam who is wounded, taking the bullet meant for the King. Henri allows Adam to return to the farm to recuperate and be with Kate for the birth of their child, but would like the whole family to return and live at court. Kate’s knowledge of healing and midwifery would be useful as Henri’s mistress, the Duchesse de Beaufort, is also with child.
Munro was cursing his inattention and searching the conversation for a clue as to what Henri’s request had been, when the King, again misinterpreting, said, ‘You are a knight and your wife a lady. Why should she not be at court? If it is her status that concerns you, then there are other honours that could be conferred. I want people about me I can trust. And you have shown I can trust you. If your wife has a gift as a healer, that is a bonus, for I would place no bar to the practice of her skill at court. What say you?’
Adam isn’t sure how Kate will take the news, and there is also the matter of religious freedom being banned at court and throughout Paris. He knows, however, that although it was formed as an invitation, he will not be able to refuse the King’s request. So, once again, the Munro family fortunes are altered – sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Tension, danger and uncertainty are constants as Robbie finds out to his, and others’ costs.
Meanwhile, in Scotland, the feud between William Cunninghame and Hugh Montgomerie continues unabated, despite the ruling by James VI banning duelling. Close family members on each side try to defuse the situation to no avail. William and Hugh have several confrontations, the final one culminating in trouble for them both. William is his usual extremely unpleasant self. Hugh, hotheaded and honourable, acting without thought for the consequences.
The research is meticulous and fact and fiction are woven together smoothly creating a fascinating tale. Real historical figures blend very well with the very engaging, fictional Munro’s. The narrative is quite intricate and alternates between several storylines set in different locations, following individual groups. Characters have developed throughout the trilogy and are all finely drawn and very convincing. A very entertaining and vividly described story brought to life incredibly well.
I chose to read and review By Sword and Storm based on a copy of the book supplied by the author/publisher.
Margaret Skea grew up in Northern Ireland during the ‘Troubles’, but now lives in Scotland. Her passion is for authentic, atmospheric fiction, whether historical or contemporary. An award-winning novelist and short story writer, her credits include: The Beryl Bainbridge Award for Best 1st Time Novelist 2014 (Turn of the Tide), andlonglist in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2016 (A House Divided). These novels are the first two in a series of Scottish historical fiction following the fortunes of a fictional family trapped in real events in the 16th century. Her short stories have won or been placed in many competitions, including: Fish, Mslexia, Winchester, Rubery and Neil Gunn.