Official Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

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inaramid
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Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Official Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Post by inaramid » 12 Aug 2019, 04:04

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "A King Empowered" by J R Tomlin.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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I approached A King Empowered, the fourth in J. R. Tomlin’s series of historical novels, with no prior knowledge of the turmoil that plagued the reign of King James II of Scotland. It turned out to be a fascinating journey through time, a gripping read that I’d happily rate 3 out of 4 stars.

Tomlin takes us back to 1449. James Stewart has just come of age, his rule threatened from within by the growing power of the Douglases. We see events unfold through the eyes of Sir Patrick Gray, captain of the king’s guard, who is both an observer and actor in many of the turning points in James’ life. Even as the narrative flits from political conspiracies to castle sieges to the king’s marital life, the Earl of Douglas lurks in the background, constantly scheming to bring about the fall of the King of Scots.

Tomlin paints a visceral picture of 15th-century Scotland, with rich imageries that place readers right in the heart of the moment. We are transported to the quay of Leith Harbor, where James first met Mary of Guelders, his future wife and queen. We are swept alongside Patrick’s harrowing escape back to Edinburgh, following a mission that ended in tragedy. We follow James’ army at each siege and battle, and we celebrate each victory and commiserate with each betrayal and loss. While my unfamiliarity with Scottish history led to some confusion with the characters, it also made two historical events — the death of Patrick Maclellan and the murder of the Earl of Douglas — significantly more shocking and impactful.

Tomlin’s writing laces the novel with a sense of uncertainty and danger, as befitting the context in which the story takes place. The dialogues capture the idiosyncrasies of the Scottish dialect (e.g., use of “cannae” for “cannot” or “to ken” for “to know”), a quirky feature that might not be to every reader’s taste. The narrative comes alive at the vividness of the prose. You can see the castles and moors in your mind’s eye. The food makes your mouth water. The fight scenes are dynamic. But in equal measure, descriptions of death and gore tend to be bluntly graphic. Sensitive readers should beware.

A King Empowered can be read as a standalone. While some background in Scottish history is desirable, it’s not strictly necessary for readers to enjoy the story. I was particularly intrigued by an incident called the Black Dinner that was mentioned several times in the book; I learned later that it partly inspired George R. R. Martin’s infamous Red Wedding in A Song of Ice and Fire. Mentions of other people and events led me to do some extra reading just for the fun of it. Although the appearance of several historical figures can be a bit overwhelming, Tomlin provides a glossary at the end for the reader’s reference.

Unfortunately, A King Empowered loses one star due to the lack of professional editing. Throughout the text, there were problems in punctuation, word usage, verb tense, and even the spelling of some characters’ names. Regardless, A King Empowered is a great entry point for readers interested in the medieval period. History buffs everywhere should definitely not miss this.

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A King Empowered
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Post by Stephanie Elizabeth » 12 Aug 2019, 15:30

I am glad you were able to enjoy this book despite the absence of knowledge regarding the history of Scotland. I am in the same boat and I am glad it shouldn't negatively effect my reading experience of this book. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by Meg98 » 12 Aug 2019, 17:27

I like this storyline! It is a shame about the editing though. It really can detract from a good read... thanks for this great review!
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Post by kandscreeley » 12 Aug 2019, 19:17

I think I could understand the old English dialogue. I enjoy some books and movies set in this period; I'm just not sure this is one for me. Nice review, though.
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Post by Gathoni1991 » 13 Aug 2019, 05:44

I must say the book cover is what drew me to read this review. Seems like a really great story. I love your review.

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Post by OuKoyoo » 13 Aug 2019, 14:51

You must have enjoyed reading the book and even went ahead to do further reading for fun. Thank you for the wonderful review.

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Post by LaurelDiane » 13 Aug 2019, 15:45

I absolutely love books set in this time period. The cover art originally grabbed my attention, thinking it might be a fantasy set up which is another favorite of mine. But, your review was even more exciting after reading it to find out this is a historical fiction set in a particularly well-loved time period of mine. Definitely have to pick it up for a read.

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Post by Prisallen » Yesterday, 08:29

Reading your review makes me want to read the whole series as I don't have a lot of knowledge about the history of Scotland, myself. Great job!

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Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Post by inaramid » Yesterday, 08:46

Stephanie Elizabeth wrote: ↑
12 Aug 2019, 15:30
I am glad you were able to enjoy this book despite the absence of knowledge regarding the history of Scotland. I am in the same boat and I am glad it shouldn't negatively effect my reading experience of this book. Thanks for the great review!
It was admittedly confusing at first due to the large cast of characters. However, the author indicated at the very beginning that a glossary is available at the end of the book.

Meg98 wrote: ↑
12 Aug 2019, 17:27
I like this storyline! It is a shame about the editing though. It really can detract from a good read... thanks for this great review!
The errors are not too bad -- they're just too many. That said, it was an interesting read.

kandscreeley wrote: ↑
12 Aug 2019, 19:17
I think I could understand the old English dialogue. I enjoy some books and movies set in this period; I'm just not sure this is one for me. Nice review, though.
I took some time to adjust to the dialogues, but after a certain point, my brain was automatically substituting "cannae" for "cannot" and "dinnae" for "did not." :)

Gathoni1991 wrote: ↑
13 Aug 2019, 05:44
I must say the book cover is what drew me to read this review. Seems like a really great story. I love your review.
Right? All the books in this series have great cover arts!

OuKoyoo wrote: ↑
13 Aug 2019, 14:51
You must have enjoyed reading the book and even went ahead to do further reading for fun. Thank you for the wonderful review.
I did! It was fun comparing actual historical accounts to the author's rendition of the same events.

LaurelDiane wrote: ↑
13 Aug 2019, 15:45
I absolutely love books set in this time period. The cover art originally grabbed my attention, thinking it might be a fantasy set up which is another favorite of mine. But, your review was even more exciting after reading it to find out this is a historical fiction set in a particularly well-loved time period of mine. Definitely have to pick it up for a read.
Perhaps it's because many fantasy novels draw inspiration from the medieval period. This has the same vibe - the politics, the sieges, the battles - minus the magic and dragons!

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Latest Review: A King Empowered by J R Tomlin

Post by inaramid » Yesterday, 08:58

Prisallen wrote: ↑
Yesterday, 08:29
Reading your review makes me want to read the whole series as I don't have a lot of knowledge about the history of Scotland, myself. Great job!
I've looked into the series. It goes back to James I and his own ascent to power, which sounds very interesting.

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Post by Nizar Ali Shah » Today, 12:50

A King Empowered by JR Tomlin.Tomlin describes about the rule of James Steward.This period was a period of conspiracies against the Scot king.These conspiracies were found within against the king.Through these conspiracies the Doughlases wanted to bring down the king. At the same time, Tomlin admits that he does not have background knowledge of Scotland of the 15th century.
Tomlin also depicts a sense of uncertainty and danger throughout the novel and at the same times sensitizes events.The author confronted both happiness and tragedies and considers the death of Patrick Maclellan and the murder of Doughlas more tragic and more shocking.The advantage of the book is that Tomlin provides a glossary for the readers' reference.
This is a great read for those who are interested in medieval period

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