1072 and all that …

Over the years, we’ve featured local authors and their work – and we’re delighted to publish our first such piece of 2023. James Leslie-Melville is a local author. His book, Argentum, is now available to buy from Courtyard Books on Lady Wynd. We caught up with James to find out more …

James is married with three children and lives in Newburgh. His working career spans four decades – from time in the UK timber and banking industries to his current business providing advisory services to small companies. His work was seriously interrupted during Covid – and that’s when James had the idea for a book.

He has a passion for history: “I have a keen interest in the sweep of history through the ages, and the lesser-known stories of the central characters that have helped to shape it.” He borrowed inspiration from his time in the timber industry – an understanding of international trade and the fascination of different countries and cultures. And Argentum – his debut novel – is the result.

It is a work of historical fiction sharing an extraordinary tale that tracks a piece of silver across five millennia! James explains: “Argentum tells the adventures of a piece of silver, from its discovery in 3000 BCE Anatolia – in what is now Turkey – down through the ages to the modern day.

And the book has elements that bring the story to Fife. James explains: “Besides my living near Cupar, there is an element of local Scottish interest because one chapter involves William the Conqueror bringing an army up the Tay to invade Scotland in 1072 and negotiating the Treaty of Abernethy with King Malcolm Canmore.” Another chapter re-tells the legend of the last wolf in Scotland being killed at Moy near Inverness … with a silver bullet!

The paperback was launched this month by the Book Guild at £8.99. The Guild website gives this precis …

3,000 BCE, east Mediterranean. A slave digs a silver nugget out of the ground at an Anatolian mine, launching it on a journey through the ages to the present day. Crisscrossing the globe, travelling into space and plunging to the seabed, it features in a series of world-changing historical events. Over fifteen chapters it falls into the hands of Alexander the Great, Judas Iscariot, Attila the Hun, William the Conqueror, Ferdinand Magellan, Marie Antoinette, Adolf Hitler and many more. As such, it witnesses human endeavour in all its moods, from exploration to invention, from creation to devastation, from triumph to despair. Argentum is a light-hearted canter through the last 5,000 years, combining the adventures of the silver piece with some of the key characters and moments in world history, and revealing along the way the extraordinary adaptability of element 47. So where is it now?

James’ book is now available to buy at Courtyard Books (21 Lady Wynd). Pop in or call the shop on 01334 657890.


Thanks for reading.