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Adventure and Survival in THE DOUGLAS BASTARD by JR Tomlin

This is an adventure set in the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence when Scotland's very survival is in question.

The Professor's Lady by Holly Bush

The Douglas Bastard

The Black Douglas is dead. With Scotland's greatest knight no more, the throne is up for grabs as enemies try to devour the kingdom.

An orphaned youth returning from exile, Archibald, the Black Douglas's bastard son, fights for a land being torn apart from within and without. If Archibald is to survive, he must learn to sleep with a claymore in his hand and one eye open because even his closest friend might betray him...

This is an adventure set in the bloody Second Scottish War of Independence when Scotland's very survival is in question.


Enjoy an Excerpt from

The Douglas Bastard

Sometimes I laughed as I worked, the lightness bubbling out from my chest, although every muscle ached, and I was covered with scrapes and bruises. Tiny midges swarmed in clouds, so I had hundreds of itching bites. That was the worst part.

Sir William was absent much of the time, meeting with the other leaders to discuss plans and riding out with some of his men to search for any sign of an English relief.

The hardest part was digging a trench to divert water from the River Almond that fed into the Lade, the moat protecting Perth’s walls. We started at the Tay, where the water would drain, digging into the loamy, rich-smelling earth. Even in the summer, the dirt was damp. It took two weeks, with scores of men taking turns until the trench was four feet deep and twice as wide. At last, we broke through to the river, and water gushed into the ditch.

I strolled to the edge of the Lade, where water was still flowing in. "All that work"—I kicked a clod of dirt into the shallow flow—"and it still has water." A fletched crossbow bolt thudded into the ground a foot away.

Gamelin grabbed my arm, jerked me even farther away, and pointed to the several piles of large rocks. "It has to be blocked, but we have to wait for Boyd to bring his archers. They will try to keep the damned Sassenach ducking while we work." He pushed me toward the camp. "It's too dangerous a job for a page. Go ask Sir William what needs doing.”

I went, looking over my shoulder. Men carrying bows were loping toward the Lade. They strung their bows. Sir William was talking with Bullock in front of his tent beneath the starred banner. Bullock said that as soon as the water was dammed, they needed to cover the muddy bottom of the Lade, but Sir William shook his head. "That dam willnae hold long.”

"It only needs to hold long enough for us to cross.”

The knight broke off his conversation to look me up and down.

"Go to the river and scrub off that filth. And use that sliver of soap in my tent. You look like a bogle covered in all that mud. Then tend to my armor and weapons. I shall need them soon."

My pulse thrummed as I hurried to do as he bid. I scrubbed my skin until it stung and checked my lord's chainmail for any spots of rust, rubbing them off with sand. His sword and dagger were already sharp because he checked them himself every day, but I checked again to make sure. Then I took out my dagger from the scabbard on my belt and held it up to the light. I ran my finger down the twelve inches of its blade to its crossguard. If I needed it, it would be ready. Smiling, I sheathed it.

There were cups to be rinsed, and a shirt needed to be brushed and laid out to air. After a while, my eyelids were so heavy that I curled up in my cloak, muttering, "I will rest for a wee while.”

My eyes popped open. Sir William nudged me with his foot, probably not for the first time. “Up. Help me into my hauberk.” He already wore the quilted linen haubergeon that went under the chainmail armor.

I hopped to my feet, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, and picked up the piece to hold as Sir William worked his way into it. This would normally be a squire’s job, so maybe I would be raised to match my tasks before too long. After all, I was nearly as tall as Sir Arnoul’s squire, who was a grown man.

I knelt to fasten on the chainmail chausses and the plate pieces that covered his knees and elbows, and then came the bascinet and aventail protecting his head and neck. Lastly, I buckled the sword belt around his waist. When I held back the tent flap so Sir William could exit, I realized that it was still the semidarkness of a summer night. So far, I’d not seen a truly dark night in Scotland, and there was a rim of gold on the eastern horizon, so daybreak must be near. Silhouettes darted across the camp, grunting as they carried logs into the Lade to make a walkway over the brush. Bowshots made a steady twap twap as our archers tried to protect them, but the bolts still thudded into the ground from the English high on the walls. One of the men screamed as an English bolt found its target.

“It’s Sir Alan!” one of the men yelled as another scooped up the still man to carry him to safety. A friar scurried to meet them, his black cloak flapping around his legs.

“Ready the ladders,” Sir William bellowed. A horn shrilled from Robert Stewart’s camp, and the whole of the army became a tumult of running and shouting.

Sir William was staring up at the wall where archers ducked behind the merlons to pop back up and fire. He did not glance behind him to see if his men were ready. He grabbed the front of one of the ladders and bellowed, “Now! Run!”

He charged. The men surged with him, shouting, “A Douglas! A Douglas!”

I kept pace behind him. I did not carry a ladder and was not supposed to be near the fighting. Arrows were thudding all around like hail despite the Scottish archers’ steady return fire. Sir Arnoul was next to me, shouting, “Montjoie Saint Denis!”

Sir William jumped down into the Lade, Ramsay a step behind. I landed with bent knees and an “Oof!” The logs wobbled a little under my feet. Colban stumbled and went down on his hands and knees. When he saw me looking at him, his eyes widened, but then he just shook his head. He got up, lifted the ladder he carried with Gamelin, and kept going. A bolt thudded into a log at his feet.

I realized it had grown light enough that I could see the top of the wall and crossbowmen firing down as fast as they could winch their bows.

Pushed back by men who snarled at me to get out of the way, I was at the rear. But I advanced with them, scrambling up the far side of the Lade. Then I heard the thump of a ladder hitting the top of the wall.

An archer dropped his bow to heave at it. There was a shriek. Arms and legs flailing, a man crashed to the ground beside me. I jumped away from the falling ladder. Sir William was starting to climb as more ladders were raised, braced by men on the ground. Ramsay was on a ladder beside him and reached the top first. He gave a roar of triumph.

With a lunge, Sir William threw himself over. Then his men swarmed after him.

I squirmed and shoved my way to a ladder and frantically climbed. Then I threw my arms over and scrambled onto the parapet walk. Sir William shouted, “On them!” As a man-at-arms came at him, the knight smashed his hilt into the man’s nose while he drew his dagger with the other hand. Gamelin joined him on the walkway and thrust under the man’s guard. Even as the blood splashed, he toppled backward to the ground below.

An English knight in shining chainmail put his sword through the back of one of the men, and Sir William stepped over the body to face him. The Englishman swung from a high guard. Sir William parried the blow and locked their hilts. Swords locked together, almost chest to chest, they heaved. Rolling his wrists to free his sword, Sir William slammed his arm into the Englishman’s neck. It rocked the man back. His feet tangled in the body, and he flailed, fighting to stay on his feet. His sword skittered from his hand. He shouted, “I yield.”

A crossbowman stopped, aiming at Sir William’s back, so I darted forward. I raised my dagger and jabbed it as hard as I could. It scraped along his chainmail-clad shoulder. He swung around with a growl and hit me up the side of the head. I bounced hard back against a merlon, seeing black for a second.

Colban roared, “A Douglas!” and chopped the man down.

The mass of our men was still flowing over the ramparts. Swords slashed, axes hacked. The enemy broke. They jumped from the parapet and ran. But a crossbowman at the far end of the rampart pointed his bow and let fly. The bolt hit Sir William in the thigh. He gave a shout and fell. A charge of his men crushed the archer to the ground in a flurry of blows.

A horn blew a frantic cry within the city. “We yield!” a voice shouted. “The city is yours! We yield!" The horn sounded again and again.

I jumped over a corpse, raced to Sir William, and knelt beside him.

End of Excerpt.

The Douglas Bastard ©2022 JR Tomlin. Shared with permission.


The Author

Author J.R. Tomlin

J. R. Tomlin is the author of nineteen historical novels.

She has close ties with Scotland since her father was a native Scot, and she spent substantial time in Edinburgh while growing up. Her historical novels are set for the most part in Scot-land. Her love of that nation is traced from the stories of Robert the Bruce and the Good Sir James her grandmother read to her when she was small, to hillwalking through the Cairngorms where the granite hills have a gorgeous red glow under the setting sun. Later, her writ-ing was influenced by Alexander Dumas, Victor Hugo, Nigel Tranter, and Sir Walter Scott.

When JR isn't writing, she enjoys hiking, playing with her Westie, and killing monsters in computer games. In addition to spending time in Scotland, she has traveled in the US, Eu-rope, and the Pacific Rim. She now lives in Oregon.




Amazon Author Page:



Book Title: The Douglas Bastard

Series: (A sequel to The Black Douglas Trilogy)

Author: J R Tomlin

Publication Date: 26th April 2022

Publisher: Albannach Publishing

Genre: Historical Fiction

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