This dual biography “deftly revisits 17th century Scotland to assess the roles of…two charismatic nobles who fought for supremacy” (Scotsman, UK).
The struggles of the Scottish Civil War of 1644-45 could easily be personified as a contest between James Graham, 1st Marquis of Montrose and Archibald Campbell, 8th Marquis of Argyll. Yet at first glance there seems to be more that unites them than separates them. Both came from ancient and powerful families and considered themselves loyal subjects of Charles I. Both were also betrayed by Charles II and died at the hands of the executioner.
In The Rivals, Murdo Fraser examines these two remarkable men and shines a light on their contrasting personalities. Montrose was a brilliant military tactician, bold and brave but rash. Campbell was altogether a more opaque figure, cautious, considered and difficult to read. The resulting volume offers a vivid insight into two individuals who played a significant part in writing Scotland's history, as well as a fascinating portrait of early modern Scotland.