REVIEW: Rebel Warrior by Regan Walker
When your destiny lies far from where you began …
The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.
The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.
Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.
When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?
Dear Ms. Walker,
Oh, this cover. Yum. I saw it and decided I must read this book. Never mind that the flame haired heroine is name Catriona, at least the hero isn’t named Alistair or Jamie. Plus I haven’t read a medieval in a while and maybe since he’s a Saxon, we’ll do a miss of any “ochlassieland” stereotypes. I can hope.
Yes, Catriona is outspoken and independent as she flies her falcon and bemoans the time spent doing embroidery while she attends the Queen. But, she isn’t given to stamping her foot or diving headlong into TSTL actions just to prove how spirited she is. Since this is the third book in this series, I get the feeling that some of Steinar’s character building was done already. Now he’s firmly established at the Scottish court as the illiterate King’s scribe while in secret he practices his swordplay and rehabilitates his injured leg.
There’s lots of standard medieval stuff but woven among it are the details of St. Margaret of Scotland. It’s easy to see why she was so beloved not only of her people but also of her adoring husband. It is through her good works that we see how important religion was then. Margaret also sees much and I think she’s got plans for Catriona which are set in motion by engaging Catriona to help with the planning and implementation of one of the Queen’s good works. Margaret comes off as a shrewd judge of character with an innate feel for how to engage people to achieve what she wants. I enjoyed the scenes of Margaret and Malcolm who history says truly did love each other.
I’m not at all surprised at the outcome of Catriona’s almost betrothal. Her intended obviously isn’t all he’s trying to present himself as and some stock villains arrive on the scene to further this belief. Frankly this aspect of the plot didn’t really go anywhere, including one last despicable action thwarted in the nick of time.
The historical details appear to be well researched and are blended into the action without coming off as a history lesson. I’m certainly learning a lot about medieval Scotland. Though there is an initial brutal raid by Norsemen and a battle scene of Malcolm venturing into England to twist the Norman Bastard’s nose a little, in truth this is more a political medieval than most I’ve read.
One thing I actually like is that there isn’t one scenery chewing villain hopping back and forth into the narrative throughout the story just to create havoc on a routine basis. Revenge is ultimately achieved for wrongs done – well, except for one Irishman but I think his wife will give him a lifetime of grief – but more time is actually spent with half the Scottish court eyeing the other half trying to determine who is in love with whom so the King can bestow wives on his followers. While twue lurve isn’t something that factors high on Malcolm’s checklist, his wise wife gently reminds him that theirs is a love match and he was the one who insisted on the marriage. So there.
My foray back into medievals was certainly helped along by a book which breaks a lot of stereotypes. Yes there were a few “lassies” and a dinna or two but thankfully that was kept to a minimum. On the other hand, mayhaps abounded ::shudders:: which I mentally altered to maybe. But there are no Saxon maidens or Norman bastards (except for a brief scene with King William), the hero and heroine are honorable and I actually learned a lot. So good all around. B