Dacre’s War by Rosemary Goring

Dacre’s War is compelling reading, a  thoroughly absorbing and beautifully written novel set in the Scottish and English Borders and London between 1523 – 1525 some ten years after the events described in Rosemary Goring’s earlier book, After Flodden. I wondered as I began reading whether it could equal After Flodden, a book I loved when I read it two years ago – it did. I think it even surpasses it.

I loved Dacre’s War and keen as I was to read to the end I didn’t want to leave the characters. Once again I was swept away by the story, re-living the scenes through Rosemary Goring’s vivid descriptions and the drama of the characters’ lives, people who came to life in the pages of this book.

Dacre’s War describes how Adam Crozier, the head of his clan, plots to take revenge on Lord Thomas Dacre, the Warden General of the English Marches and the Keeper of Carlisle, who had brought about the death of Adam’s father. Ten years after the Battle of Flodden, Dacre is the most powerful man in the north of England, but the Marches are a constant battlefield, dangerously out of control, and a hotbed of thieves and killers in thrall to the Warden. Without him Henry VIII believes the situation would be much worse.

It is against this background that Crozier forms an alliance with Dacre’s enemies, both English and Scots to inform Henry of Dacre’s crimes and bring about his downfall.

There are some remarkable scenes in this book, and amongst them are the scenes in the Star Chamber where Dacre is brought to answer the charges against him in front of Cardinal Wolsey and his imprisonment in the Fleet Prison. I felt as though I was there, watching, breathing the same air – not a pleasant experience. Similarly with Crozier, I could visualise his home, Crozier’s Keep, sense the tension and fear as his wife, Louise, is left at home, pregnant and in danger of losing the baby.

There is so much packed in this book, political intrigue, personal conflict and vengeance, and spies, manipulators and double crossers abound. It is impossible to write more without revealing the plot and the eventual ending. It’s a brilliant book.

Dacre’s War is due to be published in June 2015. My copy is a pre-publication review copy courtesy of www.lovereading.co.uk.

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon (16 June 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846973112
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846973116

Rosemary Goring was born in Dunbar and studied social and economic history at the University of St Andrews; and, after graduation, worked at W&R Chambers as a reference editor. Rosemary was the literary editor of Scotland on Sunday, followed by a brief spell as editor of Life & Work, the Church of Scotland’s magazine, before returning to newspapers as literary editor of the Herald, and later also of the Sunday Herald. In 2007 she published Scotland: The Autobiography: 2000 Years of Scottish History By Those Who Saw it Happen, which has since been published in America and Russia.

Reading Challenges: Read Scotland, Historical Fiction Challenge.

This Week in Books: 8 April 2015

My week in booksThis Week in Books is a weekly round-up hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found, about what I’ve been reading Now, Then & Next. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.


I’m currently reading The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. I have mixed feelings about it, alternating between thinking it’s good, not so good, and just about OK, so I carry on reading. It’s historical fiction based on Freud’s visit to New York in 1909, accompanied by Jung, when a young woman is brutally murdered and a second is attacked and left unable to speak. A mixture of murder mystery and psychoanalysis with an interpretation of ‘Hamlet‘ thrown in. I’ve nearly finished this book.

I’m also reading Dreamwalker: The Ballad of Sir Benfro Book One by James Oswald on my Kindle. This is fantasy fiction, not the sort of book I read very often, so it makes a refreshing change. This is inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, following the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men. I’ve read about 25% of the book so far.


I’ve recently finished reading Dacre’s War by Rosemary Goring, a new book which will be published in June. My copy is a pre-publication review copy courtesy of www.lovereading.co.uk. I loved this book, historical fiction set in the Scottish and English Borders and London between 1523 – 1525, full of political intrigue and personal vengeance. My review will follow soon.


There are several books lining up that I’m keen to read next. I’m not sure which one to choose. It’s been a while since I read an Agatha Christie, so it could be The Moving Finger, a Miss Marple mystery. Or it could be Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey, or Nora Webster by Colm Tobin, or The Last Girl, the third Maeve Kerrigan book by Jane Casey. Or something completely different!

After Flodden by Rosemary Goring

This year is the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Flodden between the forces of James IV of Scotland and Henry VIII of England. After Flodden by Rosemary Goring is the dramatic story of what happened after the battle on 9 September 1513. Well written, well researched this is a compelling and powerful book, bringing the characters and the Edinburgh and Borders of 1513 vividly to life. Once I started reading the book I didn’t want to stop. I read it quickly, devouring the pages, completely involved in this dramatic story.

I was swept away with the action, re-living the scenes through Rosemary Goring’s vivid descriptions €“ the court at Edinburgh, the wild Borderlands, the violence of the battle scenes and the interaction between the characters. It’s a brilliant book.

Louise Brenier is determined to find out what happened to her missing brother Benoit, was he killed in action, or was he captured? Interspersed with the story of Louise’s search for Benoit Brenier, her brother, are flashbacks to the Battle as the two sides gathered together and engaged in warfare, the political intrigue and danger always present.

There is Patrick Paniter, James’s secretary and right-hand man – full of remorse at the death of his king, and tormented by memories he would rather keep buried. Louise appeals to him for help, and when he tells her that Benoit must either be dead or a prisoner she sets off to search for him. Soon Gabriel, Viscount Torrance, a courtier and advisor to Paniter, joins her in her search, which takes them deep into the Border country, the stronghold of the Crozier clan and the retribution that Thomas Dacre, the Lord-Warden of the English Marches has vowed to impose.

After Flodden is due out in June 2013. I read an Advance Proof Copy supplied by Lovereading.co.uk.

FF monumentI’ve written about Flodden Field before, after our first visit to the Flodden Monument. The monument was erected in 1910 at the place where it was then thought that James IV fell in battle. However, more recent opinion is that this happened further south of the village, in the shallow valley close to the road at the foot of Branxton Hill.

There is a programme of events to commemorate this battle that led to the death of 15,000 Scots and English soldiers, 100 noblemen and the Scottish King, James IV. For more information about the battle and the Ecomuseum go to Flodden 1513. As the website explains the Ecomuseum links ‘together 12 sites from across north Northumberland, the Scottish Borders and Edinburgh, which have an intimate connection with the story of Flodden. These sites are all existing attractions, where access and interpretation are already available. They include churches, bridges, castles, museums and of course the battlefield itself.

Also have a look at Remembering Flodden 1513 – 2013, where the Stop Press News is that the One Show on BBC1 is featuring Flodden on Tuesday 30th May at 7pm – showing presenter and historian Dan Snow’s visit to the battlefield and castles of the borderlands.