on 21 September 2012
A very good read. I thoroughly enjoyed this second book in the the Bruce trilogy.
What I particularly like is the objectiveness with which Robyn Young approaches her subject. What we dont get is the Braveheart approach - heroic Scottish and evil English. What we do get is fact and fiction seamlessly inter woven to produce a great book with a balanced approach. I love the characters, love the plots and counter plots, never quite knowing who will support who or for how long their support will last. Cant wait for the next book to complete the story.
on 30 August 2012
Renegade is the second book of Robyn's Insurrection Trilogy.
We find Robert Bruce in Ireland after resigning the Guardianship of Scotland. He is a traitor to the English crown and has betrayed his friends and fellow Knights of the Dragon. He is searching for the last mythical treasure of Britain, The Staff of Jesus. If he can find it before the English he believes he can use it as a bargaining tool in his dealing with Edward I but European politics intervene and threaten to place his old enemy John Balliol back on the throne of Scotland.
If this happens Bruce knows he will lose everything, so he has to make a tough decision. To survive, he has to turn his back on everything he holds dear and betray his friends and allies by entering the camp of Scotland's greatest enemy. As Scotland desperately fights for its life against the invading English, Bruce must bide his time and survive the suspicions of the English and the enmity of his follow Scots in his bid for the throne of Scotland.
I have to admit that I didn't know a lot about this period of history and as a diehard Englishman, Bruce isn't one of my favourite people but Robyn has woven a excellent story and it held my attention from page one.
One of the great strengths of this book is the great list of characters. It is quite hard to admire many of the men from this period, they were obsessed with their estates and wealth and would sacrifice their ideals and oaths to preserve them but Young's Edward I is majestic and terrifying in equal measure. The rebel leader William Wallace is a man of honour and a devil on the battlefield and even Bruce, the breaker of oaths is written with great sympathy. The supporting cast of scheming Earls, Royal princesses, ambitious knights and meddling churchman all bring extra depth to the story.
This is a story of ambition, betrayal, intrigue and war and Young brings to life the uncertainty of the time. The nobles are desperately trying to choose the right side and to increase their lands, peasants are just trying to survive the marauding armies ravaging the land and the King is trying to assert his believed rightful place as King of Britain. Bruce is ultimately betraying two kings in his quest for the throne. In stopping Balliol from returning, to trying to thwart Edward's bid for the crown he is walking a fine line that could end either with the crown of Scotland or the headsman's block.
I have always enjoyed Robyn's books, her Brethren series was excellent but this Insurrection trilogy in my opinion is a step up in her writing. The books has a great pace and she weaves together the different strands of the story so that it flows and is easy to read and in Bruce she has a great character who I look forward to seeing attempt to take the Throne of Scotland.
on 27 August 2014
1299 and Robert Bruce is in Ireland, exiled from Scotland and searching for the fabled Staff of Malachy. King Edward's vassals are searching for both Robert and the Staff. Edward himself is intent on conquering Scotland but his eldest son Prince Edward would rather enjoy the company of his friends.
Robert submits to Edward and is welcomed back into the fold of those loyal to the King but he plots to gain the throne of Scotland with the nobles. After the death of John Comyn (named on Bruce) and the betrayal of William Wallace, Robert has to escape London and return to Scotland.
I had already bought this second instalment of the saga before I read the first and I'm not sure that I would have in hindsight. This is a tortuous tale which jumps all over the place in terms of timeframe. As said before there is a slight frame to weave a story on but this is not developed much in terms of character.
on 30 August 2012
Renegade surprised me as much as the first book of the trilogy (Insurrection), and I'll explain why in a minute.
This story picks up where Insurrection left off, with the Bruce having made the decision that the crown of Scotland will be his. While Insurrection told the tale of Bruce's youth and formative years and the events that made him who he is, in Renegade he is now a grown man. This book moves the story on and tells the tale of how that young man moves from self-imposed exile to build a stairway to the greatest power in Scotland.
Two things unsettled me to begin with. Firstly is knowing that the story begins with the Bruce in Ireland in a self-imposed exile, having given up the guardianship of Scotland. Seemed like a backward step, whatever the motive, and took the action somewhere I wasn't sure about. Secondly, the blurb on the back cover states that Bruce will, in this book, be forced to ally with his enemy (likely meaning King Edward of England.) This irritated, given how much you really don't want that to happen, and given the fact that this had also already happened once in the first book.
I needn't have worried. The section in Ireland is just as fascinating as the sections in Scotland and England and proceeds at good pace. And the submitting to Edward? Well it jarred to begin with, but soon settled into seeming perfectly appropriate and normal. In fact, given Robert's history with the English nobles from the first book, it was almost like returning home.
There seems to be less attention paid in this book to the Arthurian overtones or the pagan/Celtic shadows on the fringes of society, though I think this is because they have less influence on this particular part of the story (beyond the beginning in Ireland) and there are hints that they will return with great importance in the third book when it comes.
Essentially, what I saw as potential failings in the book before I really launched into it were actually nothing of the sort and, in fact, Robyn has turned the irksome facts provided by history into engaging and fascinating parts of the story.
One thing that I did notice that differed from the first novel was the pace. Insurrection ran at a steady and engrossing pace from start to finish. Renegade, I would say, starts a little slower, but with every quarter of the book the pace increased by a notch, gradually building to a crescendo. I found that I couldn't put the book down after a while and read the last third of it in one sitting, ignoring almost everything else in life until I finished it.
I also noted something that commends the book particularly for me: the tragic story of the feud between the Bruces and the Comyns which almost tears the nation apart and which, had it been absent, could have seen a peaceful, victorious and united Scotland so early. This is, to me, as good a tragic tale as the writings of Guy Gavriel Kay and it is only the third time in all my reading when I have had cause to compare a writer with Kay (who remains my favourite author of all time.) For me to compare to GGK is one of the highest recommendations I can give.
So if you've read Insurrection, you'll LOVE Renegade and no further nudge should be required. If you haven't? Read Insurrection and Renegade both. Together they form a tremendous tale of heartbreak, loss, struggle, intrigue, subterfuge, betrayal, war, murder, love, excitement, heroism and so much more.
Scotland the Brave!
on 2 October 2014
This book really captures the mood of the Scottish nation and portrays the real emotions and fervour of our Scottish nobles. In the book which although fiction is factually accurate in the datelines and characters and really shows how Bruce played the politician whilst yearning to be at Wallace's side.
This is a great read and I really enjoyed the way in which Robyn showed that their were despicable characters, Lords and Earls on both sides of the border. If you like historical fiction, this is for you.
on 2 April 2014
I have loved all Robyn Young's books, They are impressively researched, and contain sufficient historical detail to satisfy any history nerd (that would include me). It was a great idea to write about Robert Bruce - the whole period is bristling with action and intrigue - really! You can't make this stuff up. She has created a masterful blend of fact and fantasy - the fantasy being woven through in credible fashion. I am looking forward to the final excerpt.
Robyn Young continues her latest series (Insurrection) with Renegade. Its an interesting choice for a series, write The Bruce wrong and alienate a chunk of Scotland, and she doesn't, She has written his in a sympathetic but honest style. Battling against the overly ambitious grasping hands of the English Knights (who lets face it were just a bunch of Norman descendants) Im not sure who (including the king) would feel safe around these guys. Survival and improved stature was a case of who can outdo the competition, who knew who, who knew what about who. The church wasn't exempt from this they were all at it.
As with every book I have read by this author this book is laced with great characterisation, great insight into the potential psyche of the time and a real passion for her chosen time period. That investment in her research comes across in every page, every paragraph and weaves a wonderful tale.
One of the real draws of this series is the familiarity of the names, Edward I and William Wallace being two of the most notable, but this series does not dwell on the main characters, Robyn Young instead weaves in a rich tapestry of characters and figures of the period giving a much more rounded and real story than the average wordsmith.
Even thought we know the ultimate fate of Robert the Bruce Robyn's writing leaves you wondering if fate could be changed. Will see his ambitions fulfilled, will he remain the man he wants to be or cave to the scheming of those her despises? what compromises must he make as a man to be who he needs to be?
I'm rambling now, but there is so much depth to this book and series it makes you want to do that when you stop and think about it. Its going to be a long year waiting for book 3.
Very Highly recommended
Insurrection (Insurrection Trilogy)
1. Brethren (2006) Brethren (Brethren Trilogy)
2. Crusade (2007) Crusade (Brethren Trilogy)
3. Requiem (2008) Requiem (Brethren Trilogy)
BORN TO A LINE OF KINGS, HE WILL NOT BOW TO A CONQUEROR
King Edward of England marches on Scotland, his campaign to unite the British Isles under one crown inspired by an Arthurian prophecy. He has already crushed Wales; now he need only find the Staff of St Malachy, symbol of Irish nationhood, to achieve his implacable desire.
One man alone can thwart Edward's plan. Leaving his war-torn home, Robert Bruce has sailed to Ireland, determined to find the Staff and keep it out of Edward's hands. His veins run with the blood of kings and his destiny to fulfil his family's claim to the throne of Scotland burns his mind.
But on the run through the wild country, hunted by a relentless assassin, Robert seems a long way from achieving his ambition. And there are other eyes on Scotland's crown, old enemies gathering against him.
This is a game of conquest, power and treachery, and Robert finds that to survive he must first abandon everything he holds dear. He was always prepared to die on the battlefield - but what else must he sacrifice to keep his hopes alive?
RENEGADE is a dazzling story of conspiracy and divided loyalties, battle and betrayal, and a superb portrait of the medieval world
on 1 November 2013
I enjoyed this book, although I found it necessary to have a history of Scotland on hand to check family trees and actual events. I do wonder why it was necessary to have this history of Robert The Bruce cut into three books, Although it would have made a heavy tome I would have preferred to have the whole story in one bite. By the time the third book of the trilogy is out I will probably have forgotten the details of the previous two. In hind sight I would recommend that readers wait for all three books and read them consecutively