When Monica McCarty first mentioned the idea for her new series the Highland Guard to the readers I was so excited. Sexy kilted highlanders meet the powerful Navy Seal premise. Or in Monica’s word Suzanne Brockmann meet Braveheart! A super secret army of elite warriors consisting of the most fearsome, the best of the best warriors of the powerful Highlander clans helping Robert the Bruce fight to win Scotland’s freedom. It sounded like a winner to me. The first book in the series The Chief released in March of 2010 and we were introduced to the eleven powerful and fearsome warriors that would form to become the secret weapon in Bruce’s bid for Scotland’s freedom from the English. I knew that I was in for a ride. I couldn’t wait to read the stories for these men. So today I’d like to introduce you to these special men that make up the elite Highland Guard.
I’m going to put some sexy pics next to each Guard but really there is no one as hot as I imagine these guys to be in my head so just to keep the post entertaining I thought I’d stick some hotties next to them.
Highland Guard: Created officially the year of 1306
Battle Cry: Airson an Leòmhann (For the Lion)
Creed/Motto: Bàs roimh Gèill (Death before surrender)
War Names: Started out as joking nicknames by MacSorley, but adopted by the guard to protect their identity. First employed by Robert “Raider” Boyd when Christina (MacLeod’s wife) comes to the training camp, and he doesn’t want to risk telling her his name. Some of the names are based on MacSorley’s jokes (i.e. “Saint” and “Dragon”) and some are based on the men’s skills (i.e. “Ranger” and “Arrow”).
Armor: Blackened nasal helm to obscure face, blackened coif of mail, black leather cotun (war coat) studded with mail, dark wool plaid wrapped in a strange fashion around them (my early tribute to the belted plaid), and gamboissed (padded tubes) black leather chausses. A mishap while cleaning the ovens, leading to ash landing all over Christina’s face, gives MacLeod the idea to use ash to darken their faces (my 14th Century version of camouflage).
Training: Two weeks known as “Perdition.” You probably thought this was my tongue-in-cheek allusion to the Navy SEAL’s “hell week.” It is—but in title only. The SEALs didn’t invent harsh training methods or the idea of having to go through a series of challenges before being admitted into an elite warrior band. As MacLeod points out, the idea actually comes from the challenges of Finn MacCool’s (Fionn mac Cumhaill) Fianna. Indeed one of the Fianna challenges is the spear test that Arthur “fails.” One of the more amusing challenges for the Fianna: having to run through the forest being chased by the other members without disturbing the hair from his braids!
Identifying Marks (aka Tattoos): When Christina notices “Mor” tattooed on Tor’s backside—given to mark him as the first born twin—it gives him an idea. When Arthur Campbell is forced to “leave,” Tor decides to mark the arms of the men with a Lion Rampant to identify them as members of the secret Highland Guard. Add “After Bruce’s famous run-in with the Spider in the cave on Rathlin, a web armband (like a torque) is added to the Rampant Lion crest. Some of the guys have also added personalization (i.e. MacSorley has a birlinn in his).
The Highland Guard Warriors
WARNING: DO NOT GO FURTHER IF YOU DO NOT WANT ANY SPOILERS
Tormod “Tor” MacLeod: Chieftain of the Clan MacLeod
Strength: Expert swordsman
War Name: Chief
Description: He is in his early 30’s; golden hair, cerulean blue eyes
Tor is the leader of the Highland Guards. He is the expert swordsman of the group. He is known as the greatest warrior in the Highlands and western isle. Was previously married and has two sons from his previous marriage.
Tor later married Christina Fraser in the year of 1305. Their marriage starts off rocky after Tor realizes Christina & her father schemed to trap him into marriage with Christina. You can read their story in book #1, THE CHIEF. Book #1, The Chief, takes place in the year 1305 with the epilogue picking up March 1306.
Erik MacSorley: Reputed to be the best seafarer in the isles
Strength: Seafarer and Swimmer
War Name: Hawk
Description: He is in his early 30’s; dark blond hair cut close to his head, vivid blue eyes
Seafarer, kinsman of Angus Og, Gill-coise henchman, descendant of Somerled. He is the Guard’s expert seafarer and swimmer. The flirt, charmer and happy go lucky guy of the group. Ladies man until he meets “Ellie”.
Erick meets his one true love, Elyne “Ellie” de Burgh, who is the spirited daughter of a very powerful Irish noble. You can read their story in book #2, THE HAWK. Book #2, The Hawk, takes place in the year 1306 and 1307 with the epilogue picking up July 1307.
Strength: Scouting and Reconnaissance
War Name: Ranger
Description: He is in his early 30’s; dark hair, amber eyes with flecks of gold
He is the Guard’s expert scouter and reconnaissance. He is the younger brother of Robert the Bruce’s lieutenant and trusted friend. He is highly skilled with the throwing spear. He can grab an arrow while in flight in mid air. More of an observer and loner as well.
Arthur marries Anna MacDougall, who is the daughter of his enemy. Anna’s father murdered Arthur’s father. You can read their story in book #3, THE RANGER. Book #3, The Ranger, takes place in the year 1307 and 1308 with the epilogue picking up October 1308.
Strength: Stealth, Infiltration and Extraction
War Name: Viper
Description: He is in his early 30’s; dark wavy hair, striking eyes
Bastard child to the Chief in the Western Isles. Reputation as a mercenary, bad boy, would sell his own mother…you get the picture! He is the expert stealth, infiltration, and extraction person of the guards. He and Erik MacSorely are cousins. Previously married and is rumored to have murdered his first wife.
Lachlan is now remarried to Isabella “Bella” MacDuff. Isabella’s family holds the hereditary right to enthrone Scotland’s kings. Their story is book #4, THE VIPER. Book #4, The Viper, takes place in the year 1306 thru 1308 with the epilogue picking up December 1314.
Read my review of The Viper HERE.
Strength: Survivalist/Outdoors-man and Weapon Forging
War Name: Saint
Description: He’s heavily muscled, caramel eyes and around early 30’s
He’s something of an inventor and experimenter with weapons. He hails from the mountains of North Scotland. One of the weaker swimmers. Not a graceful rider as well. Is in love with his friend and fellow guardsman William Gordan’s bride to be. He is the survivalist/outdoors man of the group. He never talks about woman hence is nickname “The Saint“. Able to survive in the most varied and extreme of conditions. It’s the calm even tempered and very controlled.
Magnus is married to his first love, Helen Sutherland of Moray. Helen is the daughter of the Earl of Sutherland, whose family are long time enemies of the MacKay. Their story is book #5, THE SAINT. Book #5, The Saint, takes place in the year 1305 and then 1308 and 1309 with the epilogue picking up in November 1309.
Read my review of The Saint HERE.
Strength: Alchemy and Explosives
War Name: Templar
Description: He is described as boyishly handsome, floppy light brown hair and blue eyes
He is the alchemy and explosive expert of the group. William is hard to rile. He is one of the few men who gets along with Lachlan “Viper” MacRuairi. He is engaged to Helen Sutherland, who was Magnus “Saint” MacKay’s first and only love. He eventually marries Helen. YES…I know you are probably wondering then how does Magnus end up with Helen in The Saint?
SPOILER ALERT: If you want to know more about William’s story, click the “VIEW SPOILER” link → View Spoiler »William “Templar” Gordon dies in book #5, The Saint. This was such a devastating event. I cried buckets! 🙁 « Hide Spoiler.
* Kenneth Sutherland
Strength: Explosives & Versatility (i.e. the Utility Guy)
War Name: Ice
Description: Dark brown hair with golden streaks and blue eyes
Kenneth was not one of the original guardsmen recruiter by Bruce. His character first shows up in The Saint. He is Helen’s (Magnus’s wife) sister. He finds out about Bruce’s secret elite armies in The Saint and is trying to prove himself so that he can join the guardsmen.
Kenneth marries Mary of Mar, former wife to the Earl of Atholl. Mary has one son from her previous marriage with the Earl of Atholl. Kenneth and Mary’s story is book #6, THE RECRUIT. Book #6, The Recruit, takes place in the year 1306 and then 1309 and 1310 with the epilogue picking up in late summer year 1310.
Strength: Tracker and Hunter of Men
War Name: Hunter
Description: He’s very tall and broad shouldered, muscular physique, short dark hair and steel blue eyes, around early 30’s
Ewen is known as the hunter of men – able to track any trail, no matter how faint. He is known as the greatest tracker in all of the Highlands. He takes his duties very seriously. Typically favors using a pike, weapon of choice of an infantryman.
Ewen marries Janet of Mar a.k.a “Sister Genna”. Janet is Mary’s (Mary is married to Kenneth) twin sister. Ewen and Janet’s story is book #7, THE HUNTER. Book #7, The Hunter, takes place in the year 1297 and then 1310 with the epilogue picking up in December 1315.
The Knight – novella (Highland Guard, #7.5) – My pick is coming soon. This was a novella that I had skipped over when it first released, so I haven’t read the book yet. I’ll have my pick of James Douglas coming soon! 😛
Robert “Robbie” Boyd
Strength: Physical Strength and Hand-to-Hand Combat
War Name: Raider
Description: He is described as being of formidable size with a handsome face. He is tall and broad shouldered. He has long dark hair hanging and is around his early 30’s
He is known throughout the Highlands as the strongest man in Scotland. Boyd fought alongside William Wallace and is a patriot of Scotland. Has the most hatred towards the English. He is also an expert scout.
Robbie marries Lady Rosalin Clifford, who is English and the sister to Robert, the first Baron de Clifford. Robert is one of the most important commanders in the war against the rebel Scots. Robbie holds Rosalin hostage in order to extract a truce from her brother. Robbie and Rosalin’s story is book #8, THE RAIDER. Book #8, The Raider, takes place in the year 1306 and then 1312 with the epilogue picking up in November 1312.
Strength: Marksman and Archer
War Name: Arrow
Description: He has the face of Apollo, he’s one of the younger Guards – mid 20’s or so at the start of the series. He has tawny hair, straight and strong nose, a firm jaw with a lightly cleft not too square. His eyes were light green framed by the thickest lashes.
He is a famed archer in the Highlands. He is known for his godlike looks. Because of his looks he has many ladies who throw themselves at him. He is a skilled marksman and is very stealthy. Known as a loner.
Gregor marries Cate of Lochmaben, who becomes Gregor’s ward and later is found to be Robert the Bruce’s child from one of his affairs. Gregor and Cate’s story is book #9, THE ARROW. Book #9, The Arrow, takes place in the year 1307 and then 1312 with the epilogue picking up in late summer of 1324.
Strength: Strategist in “Pirate” Warfare
War Name: Striker
Description: He has a leaner build, dark blonde hair, blue eyes and is around his mid 20’s or so at the start of this series
He is the strategist in “Pirate warfare”. MacLean wields a formidable battle-axe and led lots of bold raids against the English. Only Guard member who was already married at the start of the series. He is married to a Margaret MacDowell and readers learn he is estranged from his wife. Eoin and Margaret’s story will be book #10, THE STRIKER. Their story is coming November 24, 2015.
* Thomas “Thom” MacGowan
War Name: Rock (I’m assuming that’s his war name. This will be confirmed and/or updated when his book comes out.)
Description: Dark blue eyes! Heavy muscles like a rock and he is tall.
Thom is the son of a blacksmith in the village of Douglas. His mother was the daughter to a knight and ended up marrying beneath her for love. Thom is childhood friends with James Douglas and and Joanna Dicson (couple from The Knight – novella, Highland Guard #7.5) and James’s sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth is Thomas’s childhood love. He gets rejected by her when he confesses his feeling and he ends up leaving to try to join Bruce’s elite warriors. Thom and Elizabeth’s story will be book #11, THE ROCK. Their story is coming December 29, 2015.
Strength: Dirk and Close Combat
War Name: Dragon
Description: He is golden haired, tall, lean with broad shoulders. He described as boyishly handsome and is the youngest of the Guards. He is in his early 20’s at the start of the series.
He is the only Englishman in the Guard. He is an English knight. He is the younger brother of Sir Christopher who is brother in law to Robert the Bruce. He is also the youngest member of the Guard. He still fights under the code of a knight rather than highlander warfare. At the end of The Raider, book #8, readers are left to wonder if we’ll see more of Alex. He walks away from the guards at the end of The Raider and goes back to England.
UPDATE: Monica McCarty did give the readers hope that we’ll see more of Alex. Read the clue here. Book #12, which is titled ‘THE GHOST‘ coming out tentatively Spring 2016, will hopefully be Alex’s book. I am praying to the highland gods that it is. And I’m still very sure who his heroine will be since we got sorta a peek of it in The Viper epilogue! Fingers cross! 🙂
So there you go those are the hot men of the Highland Guard. We have some wonderful reading ahead of us. Hurry, hurry, Monica…lol! Anyway if you missed the post yesterday be sure to check it. Leave a comment and you’ll be entered for a chance to win a copy of The Viper.
Now let’s talk about today’s giveaway! See rules and details below.
RULES AND DETAILS (PLEASE READ THE RULES BEFORE YOU ENTER)
If you leave a comment under this post TWO readers of the blog will be entered for a chance at the complete Highland Guard series that have been released. The more you comment the more your chances of winning will increase for TODAY. Each comment you leave will count as 1 entry.
Spread the word on Twitter, Facebook and/or your blog and your chances of winning will increase. Each advertisement is one more entry. So you could earn a total of 3 entry points towards the whole 3 days event. You only have to spread the word once. Since this is a 3 days event you don’t have to do a Twitter, Facebook or blog post for each day. Be sure to come back and leave comment under this post or the post from yesterday if you’ve spread the word!
- Today’s giveaway is open to US and Canada residents only. Sorry international…I’m shipping these books so the shipping cost will be too high for me!
- You MUST leave a comment with your e-mail address if it’s not on your profile so I can contact you if you win.
- You MUST answer this question: What heroes from any books you’ve read would you recruit to join your Elite army?
- Giveaway ends Oct. 23
- Yesterday’s (10/18) – Leave a comment under yesterday’s post and THREE readers of the blog will be entered for a chance at a copy of The Viper
- TODAY (10/19) – Leave a comment under today’s post TWO readers of the blog will be entered for a chance at all the books in the Highland Guard series to date (The Chief, The Hawk, The Ranger and The Viper)
- On (10/20) – Leave a comment under tomorrows post and ONE reader of the blog will be entered for a chance at all of Monica McCarty’s books.