At the beginning of this novel, the third in Tranter’s Stewart Trilogy, Jamie Douglas has fled to the highlands after being declared an outlaw following the disastrous battle of Homildon. That no Scot who fought in the battle would so call him is no concern to Robert Stewart, Duke of Albany and the Governor of Scotland.
Jamie is living with his family on the estate of Alexander Stewart of Badenoch, acting Justicaire of the Highlands. Although King Robert III is still alive, he has handed over the government to his brother Robert of Albany. His young son James, heir to the throne, has been captured by the English on his way to France, where his father sent him for safety after the death of his older son, David, at the time in Robert of Albany’s custody.
Jamie, who has always believed that the Duke of Albany plotted the murder of his chief, the Earl of Douglas, also believes that David Stewart was starved to death at Albany’s order. Jamie is content to stay away from the Lowlands and serve with Alexander.
The plot of this novel is a lot more difficult to describe than that of the other two, as it covers the significant events of several years in Alexander Stewart’s life, including battling the invasions of Donald of the Isles, forming an embassy to the British to treat for the release of King James after Robert III’s death, privateering against the British, and so on. This is a fault with the novel, constrained as it is by actual historical events to seem disjointed. It is definitely the weakest of the trilogy and does not make a satisfying ending for the series.