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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 8 April 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed all three books. I found the characters compelling and the storyline, as their fortunes intertwined, gripping. Well researched.
After a short period of adjustment during the first couple of chapters of the first book, I had no problem at all with the use of phonetic Scots dialect etc. Rather, I found it easy to follow, and felt it added hugely to the authenticity and made the characters more tangible. I can sympathise that readers from outside the UK might find it challenging but can't see any reason why a Brit used to our local dialects would struggle (I'm Welsh).
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on 25 March 2016
Mirrors the actual battle with respect to the heavy going. I'm afraid I retreated from the story at the same time as the unfortunate Edward 2 .The heavy duty Scottish demotic is a major impediment.
His "oathsworn " series is much better.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 May 2013
This is a good book, even if not one of my favourites. As at least one other reviewer has mentioned, it is similar to the two previous volumes that tell the tale of Robert Bruce's struggle to become King of Scotland, fight off the invading English and ensure the independence of his kingdom. The historical background - the run up to the battle of Bannockburn - and the book's structure that builds up to that event are not particularly original, which is something that the author acknowledges readily by paying homage to Nigel Tranter's Bruce trilogy. However, Robert Low tells the story well and makes it exciting so that I, at least, read this book in record time.

Again, the author displays some of the qualities and features he has already shown in his previous volumes. One of these is his scrupulous historical research. Related to this feature is the trouble taken by the author to present short biographies of his characters and explain in detail which of them are historical or more or less fictional. Then there are the historical characters. I found that the way in which some of them had been presented was rather fascinating, with my preferences going to Edward Bruce and Black Douglas for the Scots and Aymard de Valence and Marmaduke Thweng on the English side. I was less convinced by some of the other characters, although none can be really seen as "wooden" or poor, even among the fictional ones.

The first part of the story was, in my view, somewhat weaker than the second one. This was particularly the case for the pieces taking place in Spain, which I found hard to believe, although the very beginning of the book with the freeing of the hero (I won't mention anything more to avoid spoilers) was simply superb.

The second part of the book is, of course, about Bannockburn. There are several features that are particularly worth noting here. One is the author's talent in showing the horrors and savagery of war, but also of soldiering on a daily basis. As in the previous volume, you get plenty of blood, gore, mud, suffering, hunger and every other sort of "unpleasantness" that you can think of. Some might feel it is a bit overdone. Others (me included) may find that it adds credibility to the story and makes it "feel, sound and smell" real.

Then there is the battle itself, which is also superbly told. It is largely presented as it would have been seen by the various participants: a rather confusing affair where no one knew exactly what was going on everywhere. It also shows to what extent the battle was lost by the English who made a collection of blunders, such as engaging before their infantry was ready to fight and deployed, let alone rested, and generally making poor use of their archers, apart from one case. Again, this feature where you get to see the horrors of a medieval battle up close makes the battle feel so much real.

Although I still prefer Low's Viking books, this was a good one which was worth a solid four stars.
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Seven years have passed since the end of The Lion at Bay - seven long years for Sir Hal of Herdmanston, held captive under sentence of death, and longer yet for his love, Isabel MacDuff, kept in a cage on the walls of Berwick Castle. It's now 1314, Edward Longshanks is dead and his son Edward II wants one decisive battle to rid himself of the humiliation of the Scots' rebellion and to free himself of the constrictions placed on him by his own rebellious barons. Robert the Bruce has gradually taken control of more of Scotland but though crowned King, is not yet recognised as such abroad nor in full control of the country. Nor is he sure that he wants to take on the full might of Edward's army with a much smaller force, short of armour and weaponry. It will depend in part on whether Hal can succeed in the mission the King sets him...

Low is skilled at weaving fact and fiction together well enough so that it is hard to see the joins. The first part of the book concentrates on Hal's mission and shows both sides preparing for the battle to come. The second half is mainly concerned with the battle itself. Low's descriptions of the horrors of this kind of combat always ring appallingly true and he never stints in telling us of the disgusting, almost sub-human conditions endured by the fighting men on both sides. Too much so, for my personal preference - I would have liked to have seen the balance tip more in favour of the politics and personalities. But I accept that the concentration on fighting, gore and death is what Low does and he does it very well.

I was disappointed that in this third book Low has toned down the use of Scots dialect even more than in the second one, to the extent that no glossary is provided or needed. I assume this was done to make the books appeal more to Low's existing readership. However the language and politics in the first book, The Lion Wakes, were what lifted it above average for me. Without these, this one is really not much more than a well-written sword and savagery tale. An enjoyable enough read for fans of the genre, but overall I'm afraid the series didn't live up to the high hopes I had for it.
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on 1 December 2015
Robert Low has been one of my very favourite authors of the last 9 or 10 years and I hope he hasn't retired or shuffled off this mortal coir as nothing new has emerged from him for a couple of years. His Oathsworn series was superb but his Scottish independence series exceeded even my wildest expectations. I thought Nigel Tranter's trilogy on Robert the Bruce could never be surpassed but I was wrong. The Lion Rampant and the other two books in the trilogy take pride of place on my Desert Island bookshelf when civilisation crumbles and there is no more Kindle.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 April 2013
After Robert Lows series Oathsworn I had very high expectations for what came next, i have to admit to struggling whilst enjoying The Lion Wakes the heavy dialect jarred with me, and i think based on other reviews, with many others.
This was toned down in book 2 The Lion at Bay (Kingdom 2) which for me added pace to the plot.

Book 3 (this book) has it toned down even further, bringing the story for me to full life, right at the very end, and this made the plot even more powerful. This is a real blood and guts historic epic, but with all the power and intrigue and politics you would expect from Mr Low in this series.
This is the best of the series in my personal opinion, i rocketed through the book, and even though i knew it was the conclusion i wanted more. What ever Mr Low writes next i hope its with the same level of intrigue, pace and power as The Lion Rampant. His passion for his chosen subject leaps from every page of this book as it did with The Oathsworn.

Recommended
(Parm)

Book description
The third book in Robert Low's stunning new trilogy about the making of Scotland.

The whirl of politics makes a mockery of oaths. Loyalty can be bought. Brothers end up enemies, kin can betray you and in the blink of an eye, you become the hunted.

A band of brothers has lost almost everything honouring their oath to Robert the Bruce. Wives, daughters, sisters, brothers and lovers have been slain or imprisoned. After seven long years of struggle and endurance, Bruce and his loyal supporter, Hal of Herdmanston, will come face-to-face with Edward II, the English King humiliated by defeat and determined to put down his Scottish enemy once and for all.

And the last great battle for the Scottish throne will be decided on a bloody field called Bannockburn.
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on 12 August 2013
The Lion Rampant brings the Bruce trilogy to a finish,The Lion Wakes set it up,The Lion at Bay really got things moving and now The Lion Rampant up the pace and put the final piece into the jigsaw.I enjoyed the mix of real and fictitious characters and i really enjoyed the love story between Hal and Isabel,and for me Isabel stole the book(my bird in the giled cage).Robert Low has you in the heart of battle,not only on the field but also in the court.Isabel stole this book,but my man of the trilogy for me was Dog Boy.Robert Low brings to the page great research and knowledge of the period that brings to life a period of Scottish history,that for me i new little about.Robert Low is a story teller of the highest order and this trilogy and the Oathswan,for me just proves it.
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on 12 September 2013
The third book in the trilogy is the best of the lot. Robert Low weaves a cracking fictional story into a mighty historical conflict between Scotland and England. His descriptions of the battle scenes are absolutely fantastic, telling it as it really happened and not glossing over the brutality and horror of hand to hand combat. Thoroughly recommend!!!
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on 15 October 2013
If you're at all interested in the making of Scotland - and I think you might have to be - this trilogy is pretty good. The Bruce doesn't have it all his own way and is depicted as a 3D character with a few unattractive qualities. Don't be put off by the bits of authentic language. You get used to it quickly enough.
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on 20 January 2014
Notwithstanding the use of language - which, like the Oathsworn series, can take a little time to get used to - this is the finale of an excellent trilogy telling the story of the rise of King Robert the Bruce through the life of a minor Lothian lord. Well worth a read. I am already looking forward to his next book.
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