I have read Robyn Young's series on the Templars, with rather mixed feelings, as she can be very wordy, so I thought I would try her new novel as a ta..Show More »lking book.
The book is set in the period of Edward I, 'The Hammer of the Scots', and deals with the quelling of insurrection in Wales, and in Scotland. (Edward was inclined to feel that Scotland should not be an independent kingdom). It is a time when Scottish lords were often Norman barons, owning lands in Scotland and England, with very divided loyalties. It is the period of King John Baliol, William Wallace and the main character of this book, Robert the Bruce.
It moves backwards and forwards in time to explain the development of the situation, and this can at times be confusing, but as you get into the book, this becomes clearer.
The gore is not spared! This was a time when the north of England was left as a wasteland-a scorched eart policy with a vengeance. It isn't how one thinks of 'chivalrous knights'. After the battle of Stirling Bridge, Wallace ordered 'No quarter', and the English were horrified to find this meant that the knights weren't spared for ransom as was usual. Yet this was done to avenge the thousands of civilians Edward had ordered killed when Berwick was taken.
The development of the character of Robert the Bruce from a lad, at odds with his father, is well drawn. He has a claim to the Scots throne through his descent from Malcolm Canmore, but other than feeling aggrieved that Edward supports Baliol, does not see for a long time that he is failing in his duty by not supporting Scottish independence.
It is a thought provoking book about a period that is little known to English readers, although I seem to have read quite a bit over the years as I live in this 'debateable land'
Nick McArdle does a wonderful job as the narrator-very important when you are listening for over 20 hours.