Thursday, April 7, 2011

Freedom's Sword by J.R. Tomlin

Synopsis: Before William Wallace... before Robert the Bruce... there was another Scottish hero...

In 1296, newly knighted by the King of the Scots, Andrew de Moray fights to defend his country against the forces of the ruthless invader, King Edward Longshanks of England. After a bloody defeat in battle, he is dragged in chains to an English dungeon.

Soon the young knight escapes. He returns to find Scotland under the heel of a conqueror and his betrothed

sheltering in the hills of the Black Isle.

Seizing his own castle, he raises the banner of Scottish freedom. Now he must lead the north of Scotland to rebellion in hope of defeating the English army sent to crush them.

Bio: I grew up in Texas, spending most summers in Scotland with my grandparents which gave me an unusual outlook not to mention an unusual accent. Interests? Besides reading, writing, Scottish history and politics, I love horseback riding and hiking. I attended university at the University of Texas at Austin and now live in the US Pacific Northwest, a much rainier clime than my native Texas. In fact, it makes me think of being back in Scotland so perhaps in a way, I've come full circle.

What inspired you to write this particular story? 

I grew up hearing the stories of the great Scottish heroes and heroines, Robert the Bruce, William Wallce, Agnes of Dunbar. Their extraodinary bravery against overwhelming odds has always spoken to my heart.


In the center of the opposite line, John de Warrenne rode out, magnificent in silver armor upon a chestnut destrier, his standard-bearers flanking him, banners moving lazily in the warm air. He raised an arm. A distant horn sounded two long thin notes. In the long line, destriers stamping and tossing their heads, knights wheeled their mounts. They began a sliding descent.

Andrew gaped. They were moving away, diagonally to the Scots, toward the east. They were not charging. Behind, more turned and followed. Slowly, like a frozen river unjamming on a sunny day, the glittering host moved.

"I knew it!" Comyn spun his horse in a close circle towards where his own men were still flailing about, horses forcing their way up and lances askew as they tried to avoid running into each other. "We'll attack while they retire. Sound the charge!" He stood in his stirrups, waving a signal.

His trumpeters answered with a long blare.

"Again," he shouted, waving an arm over his head. "At them before they escape."

Brian handed Lord Avoch his helm. He jammed it on and took his lance as well, couching it. Andrew jumped into his saddle and grabbed his shield from his back. Guarding his father was his only job. His heart thudded so hard it rang in his ears.

"God have mercy upon us," his father said before he turned to Sir Waltir. "Sound the charge."

Haaaarooooooo Their trumpets sounded. His father gave Andrew a long look. "Stay close." He stood in his stirrups. "Moray! Moray! For Scotland and King John!" He bent over his horse's neck and kicked it to a canter.

Andrew set his horse into motion and plunged down the slope, shield raised, knee to knee with his father. The drumbeat of galloping horses shook the ground. "De Moray!" he shouted. On its hocks, his horse slid down the slope, rocks and pebbles flying. Their men took up the war cry. They shouted and screamed. Beside him, Brian hunched over his lance with a ululating bellow. His ears rang with the cries. Scotland! Scotland! Scotland!

The English continued their retiral. The shouts and hoofbeats of Comyn's troops seemed to go further away. Andrew glanced over his shoulder. The whole line of Comyn chivalry was split off, climbing the steep slope to hit the English from the rear. When he looked back, the glittering line of English knights whom they pursued had slowed to a walk.

A distant trumpet blew twice. Another. A new line of English horse thundered into sight at the top of the ridge. The hoofbeats were a rumble of drums. The line thundered down on them.

The fleeing line of English knights pulled up, jerked reins, horses reared, pawed the air. They wheeled. The sun caught the points of their lances like a thousand flames.

The trap snapped shut.


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