book review, historical fiction, history

Review: The Highlander’s Tale: Alex by Julia Brannan

I couldn’t resist returning to the world of the Jacobite Chronicles, this time with The Highlander’s Tale: Alex. This book follows Alex as a young boy coming of age with the MacGregor Clan on the banks of Loch Lomond. Hisfather, MacGregor Clan chieftain, teaches him and his brother Duncan the ways of cattle reiving, swordmanship, fighting, tactics, reading, writing, and the ethics of being future Highland leaders–all with the future hope of lifting the proscription against clan MacGregor.

I really loved getting to see Alex come of age in this tale. This book spans his life from the age of about three to age seventeen. In that time, the character we know and love from the Jacobite Chronicles series takes shape as a gifted lad (alongside his brother) possessing an incredible memory, work ethic, self-discipline, and much more. The incredibly strong bond built between Alex and Duncan during their childhood only makes your heart break even more knowing what happens during the events of the Jacobite Chronicles series.

Brannan does a great job of crafting clan politics and community, investing you fully in the knowledge that this clan would go to the ends of the earth for each other (and especially for Alex, the chieftain’s heir.) It was also interesting to learn more about Kenneth and the trials he faced as a young man, and how he in turn became the brothers’ most loyal and trusted friend and protector.

The Highlander’s Tale, above all else, instills within you the unfaltering sense of just how important family and clan are to the MacGregors–and how that informs the later books of the series.

Would love to read a sequel about Alex’s time at university in Paris!