Friday, January 13, 2006

Wings of Morning: 16th Century Scotland

Wings of Morning, by Kathleen Morgan, continues the “These Highland Hills” series set in 16th century Scotland. This story takes place a few years after the first book in the series, Child of the Mist, and introduces a love interest for Niall Campbell’s cousin, Iain Campbell.

17-year-old Regan Drummond has just wedded her boyhood friend, Roddy MacLaren. When he arrives at home drunk, she hides from him; before the night ends, he is shot dead after attempting to steal cattle from the Campbell clan. Soon afterwards, Regan loses her memory while in a storm, and finds herself in the care of the Campbells at Balloch Castle. Throughout the months without memory, and afterwards, Regan experiences love and kindness she has never before known, and builds new friendships with Iain, his mother, and extended family. But her conscience cannot rest until Roddy’s murderer is found and Roddy’s blood avenged; the circumstances point to Iain as one who may have killed Roddy.
Though the story begins with Iain at Balloch Castle, later we meet up with Anne and Niall, at Kilchurn, now happily wed and expecting their first child. It is nice to meet Anne again, as she now befriends the new heroine. Through Anne’s understanding and Iain’s patience and forgiveness, Regan struggles to put away her old, negative thoughts and ways behind her and look to the Lord, and His people, for strength and love.
The historical situation is the hey-day of the Scottish Highlanders, complete with the various clans and political factions. This story also introduces Queen Mary as a minor character and a close friend of Iain Campbell, and makes brief reference to political events then occurring in Mary’s court. Yet the focus is on the local Highlanders, especially Iain and Regan.
After the original conflict and story (Regan’s personal life) seems settled, Wings of Morning continues on a bit, expanding on the issue of Roddy’s murder. Just when the reader feels some closure, that the story is winding down, this new plot extends the story for a few more chapters and suspense. Overall, Wings of Morning is an entertaining story, a good read as its own novel, if not quite up to the superb quality of the previous book (Child of the Mist). The story is still quite good, though, and realistic. Unlike some historical fiction novels; the characters are not all completely trusting and open to the mysterious Regan; this is not a completely “sappy” story of na├»ve, perfect humans, and it is nice to see that depth of character development. As a sequel, Wings of Morning also showcases some very likeable characters, and further events in the lives of the Campbell family we have come to love from the first book.