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I love reading, fairly often I read fictional books, a few classics, some biographies but a friend recommended this to me after a late night discussion on Scottish history and why Braveheart was so wrong (albeit a decent watch which contains one of my favourite ever songs - For the Love of a Princess).
Anyway, I digress. The book is massive, reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings trilogy book, which may be off putting to some, however I would say don't be put off.
The key to Tranters success with this book is the dialogue and style of writing. Rather than just writing another history book rammed full of facts and dates which for me, never seem to fully stick in my head, he takes on a journey.
How does he do it? The dialogue. Tranter has written this book, as if it's novel. Whilst historically and factually accurate, we get to listen in on Tranter's idea of how Robert the Bruce discussed plans, his thoughts, his feelings.
For me, I was transported back to a different time, a time when Scotland were repressed, a time that seemed hopeless but for two men, William Wallace, the ever impressive and inspiring man and Robert the Bruce, Scotland's greatest King.
We see first hand how and why Bruce was excommunicated from the church, we see why William Wallace commanded such respect and authority, for a 'lowly' man.
All this is done by transporting us back in time. We feel the love Bruce feels, we feel the despair. We feel his anger, his passion for his country. We see the sacrifices, the mutiny, the history of the Clans and the complex nature of Scotland's history is laid bare without being self serving.
This is not a 'woe for Scotland' book, it's a factually accurate reflection of time past. The three parts of the book: Steps to the Empty Throne; Price of the King's Peace and Path of the Hero King, flow seamlessly.
For me, the biggest thing about this book, it rights the horrific wrongs of the story told by Hollywood. A story that sadly a young generation of Scots believe to be accurate. A story which paints Bruce as a traitor and Wallace as the all conquering hero. The reality, as shown in Tanters book is Wallace was the instigator, the driving force behind Bruce's asscention to the throne.
That in fact, Bruce was never close to being a traitor, that he led the Scots on a magnificent charge, the infamous Battle of Bannockburn in 1914. A battle not seen by Wallace.
This book, tells the true, real story in a compelling narrative. The ease with which facts sit next to essentially fictional dialogue makes it a joy to read.
I would highly recommend that anyone interested in Scottish history reads this book, and if you're not sure if you are, give it a go. You might be surprised.
Trilogy consists of Steps to the Empty Throne, Price of the King's Peace and Path of the Hero King