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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative, 5 Feb 2007
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This review is from: David II (Paperback)
It seems to be the case with Scottish history a leap from the Wars in Independence to the Stewart reign takes place. It could be because historians feel David's reign wasn't interesting enough to study or David is just rather unfortunate to have been born in the shadow of Bruce and would never compete in the popularity stakes as his famous father. Still, Penman sets out to tip the balance a little and submits an outstandingly detailed piece of work on Scotland's forgotten king.

Like other authors have stated, this is most definately an academic work and is quite difficult for a standard reader who is new to the period. Penman argues (very well) that David's kingship was not, as traditionally thought, to be 'weak and inneffectual', but rather one of chivalry and diplomacy. The argument is put forward that David II had moved beyond the age of skirmishes and hoped to achieve the sort of kingship Europe boasted. Penman weaves this argument through the story of David's colourful and unlucky reign to produce a strong argument to counter most that have gone before it.

I did struggle with a lot of the names thrown at the reader in this work, but I suspect only academic historians will follow this from the outset. I was lucky enough to have been taught by Dr Penman on David II's reign while at uni and although David II didn't interest me much to begin, with this book was absorbing and helped me fill in a huge gap in my knowledge of Scottish history.

This work should definately feature on the bookshelves of those interested in Scottish history. I now feel David II deserves much more attention than he's initially been given and I feel this work will kickstart some serious historical debate on the subject.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten King, 2 Jun 2006
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T. Turpie (Edin, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: David II (Paperback)
This epic work is intensively researched in the most up to date methods of historical study. Although perhaps in too much depth for the casual reader it casts light on a forgotten and much maligned medieval monarch. A must for any student of medieval history from a writer at the forefront of current research
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Forgotten Part of Scottish History, 22 Nov 2005
This review is from: David II (Paperback)
I picked up this book while browsing at the library. It was a period of history i had little knowledge of. However Michael Penman has done an admirable job of bringing to life the life and times of David II. Essentially this book focuses on high politics and the interactions of David II with key figures such as Edward III of England, Robert the Steward (heir presumptive to David) and many others, a list of which cannot be typed here. The politically manouvering that occured during this period makes for fascinating reading and David II efforts to exert royal authority are very complex. The author also ties in events and policies in Scotland to wider European affairs in an easy to read manner.
The author paints a picture of David II being a ruler that never achieved his maximum potential due to the hinderences he encountered during his reign. Penman also successfully conveys a sense where it is harder to preserve a peace than to win a war. This was a situation that David inherited from famous father - Robert the Bruce.
However a major handicap of the book is Penman's habit of listing off a series charters David II issued to raise his allies or demote crown enemies. These details are often very complex and the book becomes very weighed down at times and makes it difficult to keep track of many of the characters featured.
All in all it is as excellent read. Colourfully and vividly it brings to life the political arena of 14th century Scotland.
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David II
David II by Michael Penman (Paperback - 22 Feb 2005)
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