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).
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.
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.
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.