The long line of Scotland's kings called James Stewart may represent little more than a list of similar names and vague dates to many. But there should be no doubts about the first, James the First of Scots, who was in almost every way an extraordinary man - poet, thinker, warrior, statesman, athlete. And prisoner - for this man was held captive for almost half his entire life.
Few men can have had more natural and inherited advantages - and few been dogged by such consistently ill fortune, betrayal and disappointment. Yet with it all James was no miserable character, but a cheerful optimist who ever hoped for the future, a colourful magnet for trouble, adventure - and love.
He had in fullest measure that fatal Stewart capacity to arouse both love and hate, undying devotion and darkest treachery. His romance with the proud English beauty Joanna Beaufort is one of the great loves of history. And the love displayed by Catherine 'Bar-the-Door' Douglas one of the most poignant.
Here then is the vivid tale of James the First from his early days in the misgoverned Scotland of his weakling father Robert the Third, through the long toughening years of captivity and frustration, to his eventual return to his own distracted kingdom, where anarchy and the sharpest sword made the law. Loosed at last, the caged Lion of Scotland showed his claws - and men had cause to tremble at the poet turned avenger.
This is an exciting and compelling historical novel on a grand scale - but it is also something more, a love story both tender and terrible.