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4.8 out of 5 stars106
4.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 July 2014
The year is 1306 - Robert Bruce is finally crowned King of Scotland, his rivals to the throne murdered or in retreat. But the triumph is shortlived, the prophecy as fragile as ever, as Sir Aymer de Valence, earl of Pembroke and cousin to Edward I of England, heads northwards, taking advantage of all those with an axe to grind against Robert, forcing the rebel king to the north-western edges of this unhappy kingdom. So begins eight long years of tug of war between Robert and the English for control of Scotland, culminating in Bruce's great victory at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.

Nothing about this is straightforward, though. Bruce has to fight tooth and nail to hold his men together, to inspire them to keep on fighting, to bargain ruthlessly with the mercenaries and disinherited, to brave the greatest hardships and personal dangers and, most horrible of all, to endure the loss of his wife, daughter and sisters, captured by Edward and treated with great cruelty - his daughter and sister caged like animals.

Kingdom completes Robyn Young's Insurrection trilogy - three meticulously researched, passionately intense novels that bring to life the figure of Robert Bruce with all his strengths, weaknesses and drive. There is no doubt that Robert had his flaws, his repeated switching of sides in the previous novel Renegade made him a difficult character to like. He is also not easy to love, just look at his wife, brothers and father. But Robert Bruce is a man with a destiny and in this world in which legend and prophecy are vital, if only as inspiration to others, he cannot turn back.

In Renegade I had a real problem with Robert. I thought him a dishonourable man. I liked him no more than I did Edward I. By contrast, there were an awful lot of women I felt sorry for as well as the men hurt by Robert's betrayal. In Kingdom, though, Robert atones. In this novel, everything comes to a head, literally at Bannockburn, but also in every other way. He is now set on his destiny and he becomes the hero we want him to be. He is king and there's no turning back. Sir Aymer is now the unsympathetic figure, chasing Robert and his men over hill and dale, through forests and across rivers and seas. Edward I is a dry husk of a man, dying piece by piece, drained of blood, but unable to let go of life, still able to fly into violent fury at the behaviour of his son and heir, intoxicated by his lover Gaveston. The men that Robert betrayed, notably Humphrey de Bohun, the Constable of England, fight for Edward and his son but loyalties are severely tested, particularly when Humphrey suspects that King Edward's reimagining of an Arthurian circle of knights was based on lies. Humphrey never loses our sympathies even though he fights on the `wrong' side.

As with Renegade, the female characters are especially powerful in Kingdom and complement the male dominated military action perfectly. Robert's queen, Elizabeth, is an intriguing figure, tragic, I think, and I liked the pages spent with her very much. Another character that stands out is Alexander Seton, a nobleman who discovers he no longer knows what he's fighting for. The muddle he gets himself into is hugely involving and it's hard not to like him. There is no fear of liking either Edward the father or Edward the son, although both are highly entertaining on the page. But Robert now comes into his own, filling the pages of Kingdom with his personality, working on the reader's affections, winning us over bit by bit, revealing a little of his personal struggles and motivations, making him seem more human than kinglike, earning our approval and support until the book becomes an exercise in tension, drama and suspense.

Robyn Young writes so beautifully. Her medieval knowledge is clearly vast but it is coated in the most stunning prose that moves the story forward while injecting it with a world of historical colour and flavour. The battle sequences, which feature throughout the novel, are brilliantly done, but so too are the moments of reflection. At the heart of Kingdom, though, lies the complicated and often painful relationships between these remarkable people. This is so well done and shows what a miracle it was that Robert was able to tie it all together to bring about such a great victory.

I loved this book. I read the final two thirds in just one day, despite the far less pleasant claims of work on my time. I would argue that each of the novels in this trilogy stands very well alone but as a collection they provide an extraordinary portrait of one of the great duels of medieval history as well as one of its most difficult to know figures. I can only look forward to discovering where Robyn Young will take us next. Kingdom has set the bar very high indeed. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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on 28 December 2014
I've read all of Robyn Young`s books and she just goes from strength to strength. While the Brethren Trilogy improved massively after a fairly weak first book the Insurrection series has been consistently excellent to a degree that they,in my opinion,are superior to any of Bernard Cornwell's books.I say that not to knock Mr Cornwell,I'm a long-standing fan of his work,but to underline just how good Ms Young has become in a very short space of time.
The Insurrection Trilogy bravely features mostly historical lead figures rather than the Brethren series,Cornwell etc more usual (in the realms of historical fiction) style of placing the hero into a historical context and famous names of the day making pretty much cameo appearances. This of course means much more research and limitations as to plot line and what the characters can say and do or hordes of pedants would joyfully just rip the thing to shreds. There are parts in the series that stretch things a bit but the bottom line is that it's a work of fiction based on historical truth and has to entertain as well as inform.
Having read (factual) books about Bruce before reading the Trilogy and I was slightly worried that the truth about a rather complex,selfish and deeply flawed person might be sugar-coated for the consumption of the masses.I needn't have worried,Robyn Young ably informs us of the ever shifting loyalties and less savoury sides of the characters on all sides of the conflict and leads the reader gently through the ever-changing and labyrinthine politics,alliances and loyalties of the time. Even Bruce's dog changes sides at one point,albeit unwillingly ,but he's not alone in that respect .
How accurate Young's portrayals of the various characters are only history knows but her story works very well,the characters come alive and she does a great job of entertaining while also relating a fairly complex set of events that were pivotal in the history of Britain.
I'm not sure where she'll go from here but I do know I'll be buying it with confidence knowing I'm in for a good read.
5 stars for the whole Trilogy.
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It doesn't seem to be two minutes since I was reading Robyn Young's first novel, Brethren (2006), the first book in the Brethren trilogy and now I have just read Kingdom, the third book in the Insurrection trilogy and an excellent read it was. The author has the ability to tell a compelling tale and the pages literally fly by. This book is the conclusion of the story of Robert the Bruce, a name from the history books that has often seemed maligned, but if the author's research is to be believed, and I have no reason to doubt that it should be, Robert even managed, through his lack of good sense, to alienate many of his own countrymen.

In this the final part of the trilogy Robert has finally achieved his dream of becoming King of Scotland but by doing so has invoked the wrath of the English King Edward II, who marches North with the intention of regaining the kingdom. Robert has done little or nothing to unite his kingdom, in fact quite the opposite and has to plan his battle strategy from a position of weakness, in hiding and a virtual outlaw, his authority in shreds. Not the ideal situation for a commander planning his strategy for one of the most famous conflicts on British soil, the battle of Bannockburn. Most history buffs will know how that one ended. However in this case knowing the eventual winner in no way spoils the story.

I always enjoy the author's books and this one was no different. There was plenty of action throughout and the author is a master of weaving fact and fiction together, so that the reader loses track of where one starts and the other ends, and is simply lost in the story. Anyone who enjoys reading good historical fiction cannot help but enjoy this latest offering from Robyn Young.
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on 1 October 2014
A great set of books to own and a good follow on from the Brethren Trilogy. I do think it was a bit far fetched in that he survived some seemingly near death experiences fairly easily but Robyn Young's passion for this period in history is undeniable and shines through. I'm not an expert on the history of the British Isles but this trilogy along with the Brethren Trilogy really made me investigate the battles and characters in the books and learn that these lads (and ladies) were truly tough as nails. A great set of hard backs for you any collection.
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on 1 July 2014
Yet another one of Robyn Young's master pieces - It's a shame to see the Bruce's story go but as always Robyn does not disappoint - Can't wait to see what her next set of books will be about!
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on 22 February 2016
Finally the completion of the trilogy and its utterly fantastic. Its such a brilliant series, every character is lovingly created, the story moves at a great pace, and it all comes together wonderfully. I sat back and sighed heavily when I finished this, it had that much of an effect.

I must add that Robyn's meticulous research into the period really adds to the grit and grime of the 14th century Scotland. History come alive.

David Cook, author of Fire and Steel: The Soldier Chronicles Books 1-5.
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on 7 July 2014
Could not put it down after waiting so long to finish the trilogy.What is to follow Robyn.Don't keep us waiting to long.
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on 18 March 2015
Loved it. Good telling of the history of the period and an exciting end to the Insurrection trilogy. There was a lot of historical fact in it and I know that there was also a lot of 'padding out' to make the story more interesting - after all it is a novel, though a historical one. I like Robyn Youngs attention to detail - I have also read some of her other trilogies (Brethren) and have thoroughly enjoyed them also.
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on 10 April 2015
Excellent read, the story line keeps moving and the detail in the battle scenes is tremendous. I have read the brilliant Brethren trilogy and now the Insurrection trilogy which is of same level of excellence. The one problem was that I read books 1 and 2 almost 2 years ago and it takes a little while in book 3 Kingdom to get back into the events and characters. Will wait now to see what the next trilogy is!
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on 15 August 2014
Great read as I would have expected after reading the first two books in this trilogy and the brethren trilogy. Robyn Young manages weave a great level of detail into the characters and embellished the historical facts and timelines beautifully to create a story that had me up into the wee hours! I hope she will turn her attention to a Welsh historical hero next .....maybe Llewelyn Ap Gruffydd!
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