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The Redemption of Alexander Seaton Hardcover – 3 Jul 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (3 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847245056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847245052
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 195,637 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Such is the quality of the recreation, not only of the reeking ebb and flow of everyday life but also of the period mindset that it's easy to believe Satan is walking abroad ... this is an accomplished and thought-provoking debut' Guardian. (Guardian)

From the Inside Flap

Is the young man simply drunk or does his staggering walk suggest something more sinister? When he collapses in front of the two sisters on that dark, wet night, the women guess, rightly, that he's been poisoned.
So begins this gripping tale set in the town of Banff, Scotland, in the 1620s. The body of the victim, the apothecary's apprentice, is found in the house of Alexander Seaton - a fallen minister, the discovery of whose clandestine love affair has left him disgraced and deprived him of his vocation. Why was the body moved to Seaton's house? What is the significance of the unusual poison used to kill him? And why would anyone want to murder this likeable young man? Seaton sets out to find answers to these and many other questions, embarking on a journey where he encounters the witch hunt, extreme religious prejudice, cruelty and the darkness in men's souls. At the same time it is a redemptive quest for Seaton and one that will inevitably change him.
In this haunting and evocative novel, Shona MacLean has created a historical world that is so convincing that you feel you are in the cold, dark, northern rooms of her imagination, eavesdropping on her characters. The Redemption of Alexander Seaton is an unforgettable reading experience.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's always great to find a really enjoyable first novel from a new author. The Redemption of Alexander Seaton delivers atmosphere, historical detail, characters and intrigue in shed loads. I hope it's the first of many.

One thing that would have really enhanced the book for me would have been the inclusion of a map of old Banff and the surrounding area.
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By love reading VINE VOICE on 21 July 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a fantastic read. The historical detail was extremely interesting and authentic. I am very interested in religious history in Scotland so it was perfect reading for me.. Besides that, there is a throroughly engaging story, endearing characters and a real moral message in the novel. My only complaint is that all the characters were a bit confusing at the beginning and I had to keep reading over who everyone was. Overall though, I absolutely loved this!
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By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Jun. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Set in Scotland in 1626, this is an atmospheric and intelligent historical mystery. When we first meet Alexander Seaton he is a man who feels he has lost the respect of both his community and himself. Having been a promising scholar, he had hopes of becoming a minister, only to be humilated and his chances ruined when he was denounced by the father of an old friend. So, when he leaves the inn, where he had been previously drinking with his friends; the doctor James Jaffray and singing master Charles Thom (himself in the throes of despair over a girl who loves another), he wants to be out of the current storm and back in his bed in the schoolhouse - where he is now teaching - to nurse his woes. When a man calls to him for help, he assumes he is in his cups and ignores him, only to find him sprawled, dead across his desk, the next morning.

The man who is dead is Patrick Davidson, Charles Thom's rival in love, making him the prime suspect. When Thom is arrested, Jaffray and Seaton vow to prove his innocence. During this novel, we are taken from the fishing town of Banff, to Aberdeen, the fine castle of the Laird of Straloch, the cave of a woman healer and the shacks of outcast beggars. Seaton must not only discover who killed Patrick Davidson, but try to uncover possible papist plots and, more importantly, come to peace with himself. This really is a very good start to a promising historical mystery series, with a great setting and interesting characters. I look forward to reading more novels featuring Alexander Seaton and the world he inhabits.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been burned one too many times with great reviews on Amazon of new authors only to find that they are at best inflated, at worst complete rubbish, that I am wary these days and spend as much time reviewing the reviews as I do the books themselves. S G MacLean was definitely worth the gamble. This is a great read, so much so that I have bought the entire series and am currently reading the second book.

Initially, it took me a while to get into this book and there was a moment when I almost gave up but I am very glad that I didn't and went on to discover the joys of some seriously good writing. Set in a period of history that I am not very familiar with, I was intrigued, fascinated and at times horrified by the attitudes of the time with their anti-Catholic sentiments, the witch-hunts, superstitions and the appalling aftermath that results when these are mixed with small-town gossip, pettiness, jealousies and ignorance.

Alexander lives his life trying to keep as low a profile as possible after having fallen at the last hurdle in his desire to become a minister of the Kirk. We learn of his past as he tries to help his friend, accused of murder, prove his innocence. Alexander is a flawed young man but very likeable and honourable. His heart and intentions are definitely in the right place but he is being manipulated by forces that he has no knowledge of. The characters are all very well developed, even those with only a small part to play in the overall story (like the two prostitute sisters) and the writing itself is very atmospheric and full of historical detail which I greatly enjoyed.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You must read this! I've lent it to several friends now and they all adored it, whether they are fans of historical thrillers or not. The title tells it all, this is a book about people, with at least a dozen characters remarkably well developed, three-dimensional and realistic. People to care about and have opinions about, especially Seaton himself and I'm delighted to find 'A Game of Sorrows' continues his story (just ordered it!) This is literature, fine language, finely crafted, I had dreams about Alexander's world for several nights after I had finished the book, which tells me it gets inside your head, and that's what you want from good fiction. A real winner!
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By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Aug. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A storm is raging in Banff in the north-east of Scotland as Alexander Seaton makes his way home from the inn so, when he sees a man staggering in the street, Alexander assumes he is the worse for drink and hurries on by to get out of the rain. When the man's dead body is found the next day in the schoolroom where Alexander teaches, his feelings of guilt are compounded when his friend Charles Thom is arrested for the murder. Convinced of Charles' innocence, Alexander sets out with his old friend and mentor, Dr Jaffray, to find out who really murdered Patrick Davidson.

The book is set in 1626, a time when an uneasy peace holds sway in Scotland. All those pesky 16th century Queens are dead and the crowns of Scotland and England are united, though not yet their parliaments. The Protestants are in the ascendancy and the Kirk has a stranglehold on religion and morality, but the Catholics are still plotting, and looking to the great Catholic countries of Europe for support. And witch-hunting is still at its peak, led and encouraged by the more rabid members of the hellfire-and-damnation Kirk, often culminating in public burnings. Happy days!

MacLean has caught the feel of this time-period just about perfectly in my opinion. She gives the impression of knowing the history inside-out and her characters ring true as people living in this time. Seaton and Jaffray are on the more enlightened side, though of course the actual Enlightenment is still some way off, but MacLean doesn't fall into the trap of giving them anachronistically modern viewpoints. So, for example, while being horrified at the attitude of the mob to witch-burnings, they're not quite ready to deny the possibility of witchcraft and consorting with the Devil.
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