Review: A King Ensnared by JR Tomlin


His father, King Robert III, is dying, and the king’s half-brother is plotting to seize power. James is forced to flee Scotland and his murderous uncle. Captured and imprisoned by the English, he grows to be a man of contradictions: a poet yet a knight, a dreamer yet fiercely driven. Hardened by his years in the Tower of London, James is determined to regain his freedom and end his uncle’s misrule. But to do so he must outsmart and outlast King Henry IV of England…

My Review

James I of Scotland was one unlucky fellow. In this book, he wasn’t officially king, but his father Robert III died shortly after he was captured while escaping to France in an effort to evade the nefarious Duke of Albany. No such luck; instead, he was made prisoner of the English king. It didn’t matter that his imprisonment was illegal; he was a prize and a pawn in power politics between the two countries. Transitioning between Henry IV and Henry V was no easier; the English kings had long cherished the concept of ruling Scotland, and they did their best to force James to swear fealty as a subject of England:

King Henry studied James. “I suggest you consider your words carefully, Lord James. If you are to be freed, it is at my pleasure. And I assure you that your stay in the Tower can be less pleasant than it was under my father. For you will remain there unless you give me your fealty.”

But threats were useless against the courage and tenacity of this Scottish prince. James was even taken along to France to serve with the English. At least he learned the fighting trade under the most successful warrior king! Unfortunately, Henry V wanted him to persuade his countrymen to stop fighting for the enemy, and the king’s methods were not particularly honorable. In these violent times, morality  had a way of getting lost—unless you were James, that is. His principles remained firm even under the greatest duress. At least all was not doom and gloom; in the midst of his unhappy confinement he discovered a most precious gift: Joan Beaufort, his future queen. By the time we get to book 2 in the series, his fortunes are about to improve.


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