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Envoy Extraordinary [Paperback]

Nigel Tranter

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Book Description

1 Jun 2000
Patrick of Dunbar was more interested in encouraging the trade generated by the great wool production of his sheep-strewn Lammermuir Hills than in warfare and matters of state. But these were troubled times. The Scottish king, Alexander III, was but a child and the heir to the English throne, Edward Plantagenet, already proving aggressive. But it was the Norsemen and Vikings, with their domination of the Hebrides, as well as Orkney, Shetland and the Isle of Man, and the immediate threat they presented to his trading links with Norway and the Baltic States, who finally drove the Cospatrick to action.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Coronet; New edition edition (1 Jun 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034073924X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739242
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.4 x 2.5 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,095,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


One of Scotland's leading historical novelists (The Sunday Times)

Nigel Tranter captures the spirit of the times and writes with an absorbing attention to detail (Yorkshire Evening Post)

He has a burning respect for the spirit of history and deploys his characters with mastery (Observer)

Nigel Tranter reaches down the ages to breathe life into his characters (Daily Telegraph)

Book Description

The compelling 13th century tale of Patrick, 7th Earl of Dunbar and March, the Cospatrick.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The skirl of the pipes! 27 Dec 2002
By Beverley Strong - Published on Amazon.com
After a break of some years,I read Envoy Extraordinary and was swept right back into 13th century Scotland. While accepting the fact that probably only devotees of actual history (as opposed to historical fiction) will read this book, it's the absolute magic of Nigel Tranters writing that transports you back to those difficult and rather savage times. He can take a relatively minor figure of that era and cause the reader to view history in the making. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and March, becomes one of the panel of regents to the child king,Alexander the 3rd and later, his special envoy to other kingdoms.This takes place at the very end of an era where,hereafter, rebellions and movements against the aggressions of Edward Plantagenet,king of England, and the covetous eyes of the Vikings and Norsemen who laid claim to Scotland, came into being.It's a great read for the history buff and for anyone with Scottish blood in their veins.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scotland Before the Storm 28 Jun 2001
By James Paris - Published on Amazon.com
Nigel Tranter's historical novels are so many windows into Scotland's tragic history, ranging from the days of the Druids through the Middle Ages and the struggles for independence to our own time. Typically (the Robert the Bruce trilogy is a notable exception), he takes either a minor or even fictional character and makes him the lens through which the characters and deeds of the times are experienced.
ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY is no exception. Patrick, Earl of Dunbar and March, is made to serve as a mirror to the short reign of Alexander III (1249-1286) -- the last legitimate monarch before Edward I of England ("The Hammer of the Scots") asserted his claims over the realm, leading to the Wars of the Bruces and the short career of William Wallace. As such, a pall of doom hangs over the story as Alexander's reign winds to a close.
Things begin hopefully enough: Despite a long and troubled regency after the sudden death of his father in the Western Isles, Alexander asserts himself by winning a decisive victory over the Norse and their Hebridean allies at Largs (1264), after which Norway renounced all claims to the Hebrides: Never again would Viking raids be a major threat to the Scots. It is the growing aggressiveness of Edward I to the south that become ever more worrisome to the young monarch.
The anxiety finds a focus in the historical character of Thomas Learmonth, known as Thomas the Rhymer or True Thomas, whose prophecies of doom clouded Alexander's last days as he sees his hopes for maintaining his dynasty crumble before his accidental death from falling off a horse. Earl Patrick serves his monarch well to the end, and then sadly returns to his lands resolved to involve himself no longer as an envoy for the monarchy. In a brief epilogue, Tranter describes how the end of the dynasty led directly to the Wars of Independence.
While not the best of Tranter's work (the Bruce Trilogy takes that honor), ENVOY EXTRAORDINARY is a great read for those who, like me, prefer a large dollop of history with their fiction.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ambassadorial travels of the merchant Earl of Dunbar 23 Dec 2000
By David L Bradford - Published on Amazon.com
An interesting tale of Patrick, the 7th Earl of Dunbar, merchant and errand-man for Alexander III, King of Scots. The story follows Patrick's royal service to Scotland starting from the time of Alexander's ascension to the throne as a boy. Patrick is a skilled Scottish merchant-lord, who also puts his worldly knowledge and shipping resources to use as one of Alexander's most successful ambassadors. The story, and Patrick's service to Alexander, ends with the unlucky king's untimely and bizarre death, setting the stage for the period in Scotland's history so colorfully (if not completely accurately) portrayed in the movie "Braveheart".
Compared to its prequel, "Sword of State", this book has more the flavor of a novel due to better use of character dialogue. It's an easier read, with not quite as flat a coverage of the historical facts as was the prior book. But Tranter's masterpiece is still "The Bruce Trilogy", which has that "can't put it down" quality that this book doesn't quite manage.
4.0 out of 5 stars Cospatrick, pillar of the King of Scots 17 May 2006
By Shawn Marchinek - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Another fine work of Tranter. This is the second of four books telling the story of the Cospatricks, head of the Earls of Dunbar and March. We see the events during the reign of Alexander III from another point of view. The previous Tranter books Crusader and True Thomas cover this period very well. The point of view this time is from Patrick, 7th Earl of Dunbar and March also known as Cospatrick. He follows in the footsteps of his father in supporting the Crown despite his own family's ancient claim to the throne. Beginning as a member of the Regency for a young Alexander III he travels far and wide to war and talk with the Lord of the Isles, Highlanders and Isle men alike, plus Vikings, the English and even to France to help find a new Queen. Patrick proves a true King's man being the voice and Envoy of Alexander III. Cospatrick's wife, Christian Bruce is not just his wife but best advisor as we the stage being set for the great competition for the crown and the rise Robert the Bruce. Not a shining star for Tranter but a good read none the less.
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