Historical novels by Nigel Tranter set between 1286 and 1603

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The Scottish author Nigel Tranter wrote many novels based on historical events and figures.

This page includes those of his historical novels set in Scotland in the period 1286–1603. This begins with the death of Alexander III, which precipitated the Contest for the Crown and the Wars of Scottish Independence. The period closes with the Union of the Crowns in 1603, when James VI of Scotland acceded the English throne.

For Tranter's historical novels set outside this timeframe see:

For other books by Nigel Tranter, see here.

The Wars of Independence (1286–1329)

The Isleman (2003)

1306-29? The central character is Angus Og of Islay.

The Wallace

First published in 1975, ISBN 978-0-340-19129-3 1296–1305 The central character is William Wallace.

Robert the Bruce trilogy

Originally published as three books; later re-published in one volume as The Bruce Trilogy.

The Steps to the Empty Throne (1969)

Set during the period 1296–1306, this book follows the life of Robert, Earl of Carrick as he begins to understand his destiny. It begins with John Balliol humiliated and stripped of his crown by Edward I of England. A shocked witness, Robert Bruce has to consider his own loyalties. As Scotland suffers an English invasion and occupation, Bruce begins his struggle to establish a new order in Scotland. He both collaborates, and clashes with his contemporary William Wallace; he forms alliances and friendships with, amongst others, James Douglas and William de Lamberton, and becomes a deadly rival of John Comyn. Bruce and Comyn's argument in Greyfriars Church, which resulted in Comyn's death, occasions Bruce's hasty crowning as King of Scotland. The story ends with his loss at the Battle of Methven, and escape.

By telling the story from Bruce's point of view, Tranter shows clearly how Scotland's turbulent politics and Bruce's own mixed loyalties informed his actions, providing credible motives for his apparent "switching sides" (as he had supported Edward I at one time) and his murder of Comyn.

The Path of the Hero King (1970)

1306–1314 Takes the story up to and including the Battle of Bannockburn.

The Price of the King's Peace (1971)

1314–1329 Takes the story to Bruce's death, it covers the Bruce Campaign in Ireland in more detail than some accounts.

The Bruce Legacy (1329–1406)

Flowers of Chivalry (1987)

Set during 1332–1342, this novel depicts Scotland in the aftermath of Bruce's death under the reign of his son David II, focussing on the tale of Alexander Ramsay and William Douglas, Lord of Liddesdale.

Courting Favour (2000)

Set during 1369–1391, during the reigns of David II and Robert II, the story follows John Dunbar, 4th Earl of Moray.

Stewart trilogy

Originally comprising three books, the trilogy has since re-appeared as one volume.

Lords of Misrule (1976)

1388–1390 – from the Battle of Otterburn to the coronation of Robert III of Scotland.

A Folly of Princes (1977)

1396–1402 – from the Battle of the Clans to the death of David Stewart, Duke of Rothesay.

The Captive Crown (1977)

1402–1411 – following directly from Folly of Princes and ending with the Battle of Harlaw.

The End of the Line (2000)


The Jameses (1406–1542)

Lion Let Loose (1967)

1403–1437 The story of James I of Scotland from a young boy to his murder.

The Lion's Whelp (1997)

Set during 1437–1460, during the reign of James II, the book describes the boy-king's time under regents Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Douglas, Lord Crichton, and Sir Alexander Livingston, and the plot to kill William Douglas, 6th Earl of Douglas at the "Black Dinner", seen through the eyes of Alexander Lyon, Master and then 2nd Lord of Glamis. The book ends with the death of James.

Black Douglas (1968)

Set 1448–1452, during the reign of James II, the central character is William Douglas, 8th Earl of Douglas, who restored the power of the Earls of Douglas following the murder of the 6th earl. It ends with William's murder at the hands of James II himself, in Stirling Castle. It makes some speculative claims about his allegedly dysfunctional marriage with Margaret Douglas, Fair Maid of Galloway.

Price of a Princess (1994)

Set 1466–1469, the book follows Princess Mary Stewart, sister of James III, and her first husband Thomas Boyd, Earl of Arran.

Lord in Waiting (1994)

1474–1488: Princess Mary Stewart and John Douglas of Douglasdale

The Admiral (2001)

The story of Sir Andrew Wood of Largo, sea-captain under James III, James IV and the infant James V. Circa 1488-1515.

Chain of Destiny (1964)

1488–1513 James IV from Sauchieburn to Flodden, repeats dubious legends about the alleged murder of Margaret Drummond.

A Flame for the Fire (1998)

1494–1513 James IV, his mistress Janet Kennedy, and her brother David Kennedy, 1st Earl of Cassilis

A Stake in the Kingdom (1966)

1513–1546 James V and Cardinal David Beaton

James V trilogy

The Riven Realm (1984)

Set 1513–1524, focusses on James V of Scotland and Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount.

James by the Grace of God (1985)


Rough Wooing (1986)


Mary and James VI (1513–1603)

The Marchman (1997)


Warden of the Queen's March (1989)


The Queen's Grace (1953)


A Rage of Regents (1996)


Right Royal Friend (2003)


Hope Endures (2005)


Master of Gray trilogy

This trilogy is set during the reign of James VI, up to the Union of the Crowns. The central character is Patrick Gray, 6th Lord Gray, Master of Gray at the time. He is depicted as a machiavellian figure; the novel may exaggerate his importance in the events of the time.

Lord and Master (1973) 1574–1587 This was originally titled "The Master of Gray", but was renamed after that title was used for the entire trilogy.

The Courtesan (1963) 1587–1592 This title refers to Mary Gray, a fictional illegitimate daughter of Patrick Gray. The author features her as a mistress of Ludovic Stewart, 2nd Duke of Lennox.

Past Master (1973)

1592–1603 This ends with the Union of the Crowns and James crossing the border at Berwick. The king tells Patrick Gray that he no longer has any need for him, and he goes back to his family estate near Dundee.

Children of the Mist(1992)

1589–1603 The story of Alastair MacGregor of Glenstrae and the proscription of the name MacGregor.