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Reviewed by Stephanie Chapman for Readers' Favorite
Dorothy Wiley’s Letters of Fire and Sword opens in Scotland during the era of King Edward and his son, who ruled England. The story focuses on Lady Erca MacNeill and Sir Alexander MacMillan. Lady Erca, Countess Isabella, Queen Elizabeth, Robert the Bruce’s sisters, and his daughter are prisoners held by the English in Berwick. Despite the dire situation and poor health, Lady Erca struggles to keep Isabella’s hopes up. Erca refuses to give up her desire for freedom. Eight years pass before we find Sir Alexander preparing for a battle at Bannockburn. The English outnumbered King Robert and his supporters, but they utilized the terrain to their advantage. A fierce battle ensued, with heavy losses on both sides. Scotland prevailed and took high-ranking officers prisoner. Sir Alexander hopes that Erca is still alive and can be part of a prisoner exchange.
I commend Dorothy Wiley’s ability to present an amazing amount of detail in describing the scenery. Scotland was easy to envision as I could feel the rain and muddy ground. The history interwoven into the story didn’t slow it down. Seamless transitions between the views of Erca and Alexander made the story easy to follow. I found the character glossary enlightening as it showed the clans and gave depth to people who had died before Robert the Bruce became the King of Scotland. The dialogue with the supporting characters reflected the accent and dialect. The vivid depiction of every individual made them come to life. Several themes were explored, allowing for reflection. If I lived in a tiny room for years, could I hold on to hope, or would I give up? Can a battle-hardened soldier express genuine love? I recommend Letters of Fire and Sword to readers interested in Scotland’s history and the people who lived there in the 1300s.