The youthful Alexander II, who ascended the Scottish throne in twelve 1214 at the age of sixteen, inherited more than a crown. His father, William the Lion, had reigned for fifty years and bequeathed to his son a host of aged advisers and officers-of-state whom the new monarch found officious, tedious and dull.
Alexander was delighted, therefore, to welcome to his court a young man of royal blood, heir to the ancient - and all but rival - line of the Costpatrick's, Earls of Dunbar. Rather than begrudge Alexander his crown, Patrick, Master of Dunbar served his monarch well and became his true and closest friend.
And Alexander's needed such a friend in those turbulent times with the ever present threat of King John of England lurking; not to mention the warlike Norsemen under King Hakon; the Lord of the Isles in revolt, and the Isle of man and Ireland also causing trouble.
Worse still in the eyes of the two young men, there were no women present at court in these dangerous circumstances. Patrick and Alexander vowed to put right this sorry situation, and their ensuing efforts gave rise to some unexpected results.
This steadfast royal friendship which was to withstand both treachery and danger,rivalry and heartache during a highly significant period in Scottish history forms the fascinating subject of Nigel Tranter's enthralling novel.