Troubador Tides of Change

Released: 28/10/2019

ISBN: 9781838590598

eISBN: 9781838596965

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Tides of Change

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In 1704, James Lightfoot, ship’s surgeon, returns to Edinburgh to further his studies in medicine. Amid crowded streets, narrow closes and high tenements, he encounters hostility and distrust as he is suspected of being a spy.


His friend, merchant and burgess Andrew Lawson, introduces him to the celebrated physician Archibald Pitcairne, who becomes his mentor. James works tirelessly to aid the sick and poor of the burgh. His efforts are troubled by an encounter with an old adversary – a sea captain who has avoided charges of piracy.

Andrew is sent on a mission to Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire to act as a guide to an agent from France, who is seeking to establish Scottish Jacobites’ readiness for a rising. James’s loyalties are tested when he becomes unwillingly involved with the Jacobite conspirators. There is still one more emotional battle left to fight; his affection for Louise, whom he fares may make an unfortunate marriage.

Joan Dunnett's Tides of Change is an interesting novel, set in the years leading up to the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland. The novel's central character, James Lightfoot, is returning to Edinburgh after serving a time as a ship's surgeon. He's ready to continue his studies, to attend medical school in Leiden, and become a physician—but first he has to deliver a coded message from his ship's captain to a long-ago friend, someone James hasn't seen in years. Thus, he becomes involved in the planning of the Jacobite rebellion. James has no interest in politics, but disinterest isn't enough to prevent both sides treating him as a possible threat. Then, there are merchants, both scrupulous and otherwise, and schemers of a non-political sort.

I didn't know much about this historical period and, while I'm still no expert, I was able to follow the novel's plot and to understand the concerns of the different sides involved. The fact that James understands only parts of the situation he finds himself in helps—as readers sharing his naivete will feel no more unsure than he does.

I'd been thinking of this novel as a "mystery" before I began reading, but really it's a historical-political thriller. It covers several years, jumping forward suddenly at time, but Dunnett keeps the narrative clear.

by Sarah-Hope Parmeter


Interesting historical fiction title set in Scottland when the Jacobite cause is simmering towards a tipping point.

I appreciated the blend of history of the area as well as the medical establishment focus.

You can tell that the author has a love of Edinburgh's history.

by Laura


Joan Dunnett

Born in Edinburgh, I grew up immersed in the history of the city, and the tales of Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. After retirement I volunteered as a guide for the National Trust for Scotland at Gladstone's Land and the Georgian House. Tides of Change is my first historical novel.

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