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The Ossians Paperback – 27 Mar 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (27 Mar. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670917435
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670917433
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.5 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,145,114 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The Ossians is a gripping, compelling, roadtrip around modern Scotland in the company of a drug-ravaged, arrogant, untamed visionary' Niall Griffiths

A powerful and moving commentary on the country and its defining myths (Ian Rankin )

A rock odyssey so exhilaratingly authentic, you can hear the chords and smell the vomit (Christopher Brookmyre )

This is Spinal Tap for Scotland's lost generation. Johnstone has taken a small story of a small band lost in a small country and created an epic (Ewan Morrison, Author Of Swung )

Packed with seedy, sticky bars, sullen punters and morose reflections in deteriorating weather, there is an atmospheric beauty to The Ossians (The Independent on Sunday )

The authentic ring of a man who's been there (Guardian )

Johnstone is good at describing the excitement, boredom, sniping and bonhomie of a touring band at the transit-van end of the career arc (The Times )

Doug Johnstone has got the tone of this just right...One for the young hipsters and the old rockers (Scott Pack The Friday Project )

Entertains in the uncharted corners of an unseen Scotland (List )

A Blast (Scotland on Sunday )

About the Author

Doug Johnstone is a writer, journalist and musician and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh’s seaside, with his wife and son. His debut novel, Tombstoning, was published in 2006. He has a PhD in experimental nuclear physics and worked designing airborne radars before becoming a writer. He plays various instruments and sings in a band called Northern Alliance, which has released four albums to critical acclaim.


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3.7 out of 5 stars
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I have read quite a few books by this author now and I have to admit I have become a huge fan of his work. The Ossians is one of the authors earlier books and actually felt quite different to his others.

As far as I’m aware all of this authors novels come under the crime/thriller genre and whilst there are drugs, guns and a bit of crime going on throughout this particular one, this felt more like a tale of one man’s road to self destruction and hitting rock bottom.

The story is told from the point of view of Connor, who with his twin sister Kate, are part of the band, The Ossians. I think for the group so far, even though not at the dizzy heights of stardom, they have pretty much lived the highlife of partying, fuelled with drugs and alcohol, and are making the most of the fame that they do have. The tour that they are going on is hopefully going to help them hit the big time but with a lead singer who seems to be spiralling out of control, their chances seem to be getting slimmer after each show.

Connor is a bit of an idiot, a selfish one at that, the drugs and alcohol are taking its toll not just on him, but the band as well as his relationship with Hannah who plays in the band. Through Connor, we can see just how much damage drink and drugs can do to someone and how reliant they soon become on them. Though he is a selfish idiot, there is still something of a likeable rogue to him that I think will draw readers and have a bit more empathy for him.

Through the bands tour, the readers are also taken on a tour of Bonnie Scotland. Readers will certainly come away from this novel knowing a lot more about the country as well as parts of it. Think of it as an enjoyable way to learn a bit of history.
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There's something a bit dated about this yarn.

Young rockers getting drugged up and driving about in a beat-up van from gig to gig belongs in the eighties somehow. Certainly, I read a couple of books like this in that era. This one was like Famous Five tour Scotland.

The story moves along and the deals that Connor has to do pile up. I did rather worry about the whereabouts of that carrier-bag of his. He seemed to leave it lying about a lot with its valuable cargo inside while he gets off his face on various narcotics and drinks.

Are we supposed to sympathise with his predicament? I found it hard. In fact I was dying for him to get whacked. He argues the toss with hospital staff, shoots at a noble stag, shoplifts when he has plenty of money and chucks bottles of gin about the place for us all to cut ourselves on. What a guy! Hannah needs to get out and meet some nice chaps. Not so self-obsessed. No doubt she will one day!

The main thing that spoiled it for me was the dialogue. I'd heard it all before. Sub-Welsh stuff, with none of his razor edge. And the drunk man looks at the thistle? Give it a rest.
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Format: Paperback
Indie guitar band The Ossians are on the verge of signing a major record deal and their lead singer Connor decides that now would be a good time to tour Scotland, going to some of the dreariest, bleakest places - in winter. Connor - self-destructive and full of himself - spends most of the tour drunk or high on a cocktail of drugs. But this is definitely not what you would typically consider a rock and roll lifestyle with its series of tedious gigs in seedy venues. And, unlike most tours (I would hope!) the tension mounts with drug dealers, stalkers and gun-toting Russian sub-mariners. I didn't like Connor at all - he's got a chip on his shoulder the size of a bag of King Edwards - but I really loved reading about him and wanted to know what would happen to him. Connor has led a pampered, rather empty, middle-class life and the tour seems to be a search for the holy grail of his own identity, as well as that of Scotland. A thought-provoking and fascinating read. And really good fun. I will definitely be looking out for more from this author.
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Format: Paperback
Never in the field of Scottish literature has so much drinking been combined with so much consumption of herbal and chemical substances. Never has the post-smoking ban Market Bar (Inverness) been described so well. Never has the debilitating awfulness of low-echelon Scottish touring been nailed so precisely. Never have so many seagulls died so needlessly.

But really, it's a book about Scotland and being Scottish, brilliantly taking off (literally, at Corrour Station) from that seminal Trainspotting 'it's sh*te to be Scottish' moment, and correctly identifying booze as the ultimate creative/destructive drug.

But are The Ossians the Scottish Fleetwood Mac? Discuss...
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I can't tell from personal experience whether this is an accurate portrayal of life on the road with a rock band, but it's written with great energy and the author uses the band's tour to explore aspects of modern Scotland and Scottish identity. It deals with serious themes in a very unserious manner and it manages to be both entertaining and thought-provoking. This is exactly the kind of thing popular fiction shoud be doing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another brilliant read from Doug Johnstone. This is a really great read. All the main characters are so real. Most of the time I did not think of the crime until near the end when all the s*** happens.
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