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The Destiny    by Kathleen Givens order for
by Kathleen Givens
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

According to the legend of the MacCurries, the Brahan Seer foretold that 'three generations of lairds will be born and die on the same date. That to the third laird will be born twin sons, who will lead the clan to war and then to fifty years of peace.' The seer's predictions have already come true for Jamie MacCurrie in The Legend. This story is about his identical twin - Neil MacCurrie, Earl of Torridon.

The year is 1691. The Jacobites have lost. King William now rules, and issues an ultimatum to all Scots - sign the oath of loyalty or be destroyed. While returning from France, after consulting with the deposed King James about this oath, Neil is forced to travel through an extremely volatile and perilous England. Alone and weary, he one day seeks shelter at Ronley Hall, where a Jacobite sympathizer is said to reside. But things are far from safe for Neil there, as Ronley is dead and gone, and the current owner of Ronley Hall is a staunch William sympathizer who locks Neil in a dungeon. However, Eileen Ronley, the late owner's daughter, helps Neil escape.

Neil is shocked to realize that the beautiful Eileen is half-Scot, the estranged cousin of Neil's own cousin Duncan. After returning safely to Torridon, Neil becomes determined to rescue Eileen and bring her back to Scotland, and all the while refuses to admit his true feelings for her. He pays no heed to other prophecies of the Brahan Seer who foretold that both he and Jamie would marry women from the east bearing the same name. Jamie is now happily married to his Ellen and it would seem as though destiny is at work again, only this time for Neil. In the meanwhile, Eileen returns to London where she becomes unwittingly embroiled in a political nightmare. William, the new, harsh and duplicitous ruler of England, sees her as a threat which he will not hesitate to eliminate. What will Neil do when he learns the truth? What will be Eileen's choice?

Kathleen Givens has chosen a very troubled period of Scottish history in which to set an absorbing story. She continues the tale from where she left it in The Legend and once again brings to life the period of history after the Jacobites fought and lost. She's beautifully captured an almost palpable atmosphere of sadness and resignation prevalent amongst the Scots. She also describes vividly William's harsh rule and double-dealing ways which leave people everywhere with feelings of fear, anger and regret. The complex political situation, the internal and external struggles, a court where apprehension is in the very air - all these have been convincingly captured.

The author also explores the betrayal and resentment buried in the tense and fragile relations between King William, Queen Mary and Princess Anne. The characterizations of the people involved, whether real or fictional, are well done and the plot, intricate and well developed. The story can actually be said to be mainly political in nature, with romance at its core. The tension builds and the pace quickens as events hurtle at break-neck speed. But unfortunately the unbelievable and exaggerated ending is only moderately satisfying; the only disappointment in an otherwise intensely emotional and sincere story.
Note: This book will be available in April 2003.

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