Literature / The Candlemass Road

The Candlemass Road is a Historical Fiction novel by George Macdonald Fraser. Set on the Scotch-English border described in his nonfiction book The Steel Bonnets, The Candlemass Road is about young lady Margaret Dacre, who has just inherited an estate on the border. Her father, Lord Ralph Dacre, known throughout the borderlands and beyond as "The Red Bull" kept his land safe for decades, and no reiver dared despoil Dacre tenants. Now that he is dead, his troopers dispersed to other lords, and there is no one left to hold the manor but a few servants and an aging priest. The Nixons, a famous reiver clan, have come to Geordie Bell to demand the black rent (as protection money is called on the border). Bell calls upon Lady Dacre for help and protection, and she has no one to hold away the reivers but Archie Wait-About-Him, an outlaw and broken man held by her bailiff for stealing bread.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Badass Boast: "I am Dacre, shift me an ye can"
  • Barbarian Tribe: Lady Dacre sees all the Borderers as this when she arrives, but by the end is becoming acclimated to the 'custom of the country'
  • Bandit Clan: The Reivers are one of the defining examples of this trope.
  • Framing Device: The novel is presented as the memoir of Frey Luis Guevara, an elderly priest who witnessed the events.
  • Red Baron: Lord Dacre, known as the Red Bull for his family emblem. Also reiver chiefs like Ill Will Nixon.
  • Outlaw Town: Liddesdale is run by and for the Elliots, one of the most powerful reiver clans. Riccarton is the seat of the Nixons, and several other reiver clans have their own towns as well.
  • Wretched Hive: The Disputed lands are a lawless place inhabited by reivers and killers
  • Worthy Opponent:When the Red Bull is killed, Reivers and March Wardens alike come to his funeral out of respect.