The Candlemass Road

The Candlemass Road - George MacDonald Fraser Brilliant! This is the absolute best type of historical fiction (sometimes called 'faction') and really is an answer to critics who complain about the blurring, as they see it, between fact and fiction. In the first instance, history is often simply opinion (and is usually written by the winners so cannot necessarily be relied upon). The greatest advantage though is that by creating characters (sometimes a mix of fact & fiction) the reader can identify with the impact of history on these characters rather than the cold 'facts' or dates attested to by historians, thereby bringing the times to life. But GMF was a historian and knows as much about the times of the 'Border Reiver' as anyone (see 'The Steel Bonnets'), but mix this with his skills as a writer (The Great 'Flashman' diaries are an example as well as screenwriting credits for 'Octupussy the James Bond movie)the 'Borders' are brought to life.This is not a complex story, based on what it seems was a true but under-documented minor episode in the history of the time, it breathes life into the every day struggles of people trying to 'get by' in a lawless and harsh environment, with nothing but themselves and their 'clan' or 'surname' to rely upon. There was no law to turn to with any surety of outcome, and what there was was as likely to side with the offender as the aggrieved dependant upon pragmatism, their own allegiances or straighforward corruption.His use of the arcane language, whilst making it tougher to read, it does sit the reader plumb in the middle of the times and thereby brings the whole period to life and explains how, when law is absent or corrupt, then people will, understandably take the law into their own hands.The story of the 'Border Reiver' is as relevant today as it has ever been, as our current day politicians distance themselves further from a growing underclass - who will ultimately fight to protect their own. A great read for anyone who is interested in this turbulent period of history.