Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
Set in medieval Scotland and China, this violent and often disturbing novel tells the tale of Bruce McLennan, a Scottish laird, who builds a formidable castle. The most important feature of this building is the dungeon, where he plans to hold a particular prisoner. Determined to avenge the murder of his wife and children, he plans to capture and imprison the man responsible, neighbouring Laird McInnes.
Whilst the castle is being built, McClennan travels to China, where he buys a young girl, Peony, who becomes his slave. He mistreats her, beating her, barely giving her enough food to survive and showing her no love or affection. However, she worships him, as she knows his soul is troubled and does not blame him for his hard words and actions. When he returns to Scotland with Peony, he prepares to attack McInnes, but all does not go according to plan, and a bloodthirsty battle ensues.
There is little cheer in this violent, powerful novel, but it is a compelling read and paints a vivid picture of a very harsh period in history.