The recent Mel Gibson film, "Braveheart" inspired many, including myself, with a newfound appreciation for Medieval history in general and Scottish history in particular. While the story of Wallace is certainly captivating, the movie did not do justice to the real hero of the period, Robert the Bruce.
The Bruce's legacy, so vividly illustrated in the book, of tremendous courage, resilience, leadership, and compassion is inspiring to any reader. Particularly moving was the Bruce's repeated displays of grace to his defeated enemies and political opponents. How rare in history to see such compassion from a victor in battle!
I couldn't help but think that the story of Robert the Bruce, with his ultimate triumph of Scottich independence and peace for Scotland (relatively speaking) would have made for a great Hollywood movie - at least a sequel to "Braveheart." This has all the components of a great epic; heros, villains, love and romance, overcoming great odds to win ultimate victory, betrayal, international diplomacy, graphic battlefield scenes and individual combat vividly displayed that puts the reader alongside The Bruce at his "moments of truth".
Scott's use of quotes from the actual people involved makes for a time travel experience worth taking. Putting the story in historical persectives from his contemporaries (and the Bruce himself) makes the reader appreciate the social, political, and religious issues confronting Bruce throughout his life. Many times I found myself anxious for the outcome of Bruce's campaigns, or the latest feat of bravery from the "Black Douglas" and Bruce's loyal companions.
In short, a great book, not just from a historical perspective but from an engaging, vivid journey through the life of Robert the Bruce. I must caution the male reader, however, to use more discretion that I did in quoting some of the more graphic scenes to my wife - who wasn't able to appreciate the detail in the same way I did.