Friday, September 27, 2013

Review: Robert the Bruce by Jack Whyte

From the Back Cover:

Robert I, or as he is known to a grateful Scottish nation, Robert the Bruce, was one of Scotland’s greatest kings, as well as one of the most famous warriors of his generation.  He spearheaded the valiant Scots in their quest for freedom, leading his people during the Wars of Scottish Independence against the Kingdom of England.

It was by no means a fair and easy road for this indomitable fighter. As a young man he saw the English king Edward I award the vacant Crown of Scotland to John Balliol. The nation quickly splintered into factions and this spurred Robert and his father to at first side with Edward and then against John, whom many of the nobles did not feel was the correct person to guide the nation. Thus began a decades-long path for Scottish freedom. To achieve this goal, Robert sometimes had to delicately balance the power of the nobles against the might of the English. He was a tireless campaigner and after a full life of battle and diplomacy, in May 1328, King Edward III signed the Treaty of Edinburgh-Northampton, which recognized Scotland as an independent kingdom and Bruce as its king.

A passionate man. An incredible warrior. And one of Scotland’s finest.

My Thoughts:

I really didn't have much knowledge of Robert the Bruce before picking up this book, so I jumped at the chance to read it. When it arrived, I groaned a little because it is a chunkster, and as I started reading, I realized it was going to take me awhile to get through it. This is a dense, thick read, packed with detail and history, but it is absorbing, and it did not take long for me to become engrossed in the story.

This novel covers Robert the Bruce's early life and sets up the dilemma that will plague him as an adult: whether he owes his allegiance to Scotland or England. He was born in Scotland and adores his Scottish mother and the wild lands of his family's domains, but his paternal ancestry is English, and he learns at an early age what it's like to straddle that line between the two. Robert learns much from his mighty grandfather, the fifth Robert the Bruce, also known as the Competitor for his claim to the Scottish throne. When the Scottish King Alexander dies, the clans jockey for political position, pitting enemy against enemy, and the Bruces find themselves exiled to England, where Robert earns the favor of King Edward I. He spends several years in England as a squire and then a knight, honing his skills at combat and with the ladies. But splintering relations between England and Scotland drag the Bruces back into the fray, and Robert, at the tender age of twenty-one, is forced to leave his youth behind and step into a new, serious role of responsibility as an earl and as a husband. And when Longshanks comes seeking repayment for his good graces in the form of leading men against his homeland, Robert must decide who he can trust and where his loyalty truly lies.

I found some of the lengthy political lessons in this book to be a bit dry, and I confess I found myself skimming here and there, and there was an adolescent "smell my fingers" scene that made me cringe, but other than that, I really enjoyed this book. Whyte paints a complex picture of a young man shaped by loss and conflicting loyalties, and he brings Longshanks's court to life in all it's beautiful, dangerous glory. This is the second book in a series about medieval Scotland's "guardians," the first having been about William Wallace, who does make a few appearances in Bruce's story. When I finished, I went in search of the release date of the next book, thinking it would be a continuation of Bruce's story since he is only twenty-three at the end of this book and has another thirty years of life ahead of him, so I was disappointed to see the next book is about the Black Douglas. While I am very interested in reading his story, I do hope there will be a healthy dose of Bruce to go along with it, for I wasn't ready to let go of him at the end of this rich and poignant telling of the formative years of one of Scotland's most powerful men and revered heroes.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5


Thanks to Tor/Forge, I've got two copies of Robert the Bruce to give away to two lucky readers in the US/UK/Canada! To enter, simply leave a comment on this review with your email address!

This giveaway closes at 11:59pm Thursday, October 10, 2013 and is open to residents of the US, the UK, and Canada. Winner will be selected at random. Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
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  1. I don't know much about Robert the Bruce, but he is definitely someone on my "get to know" list. Thanks so much for the giveaway!


  2. *pick me! pick me!*
    Oh, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to read this. I'm hearing it from other historical people, and it's definitely on my list.

  3. Your review captivated my interest. This historical sounds fascinating. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. What a wonderful post which interests me greatly. thanks for this giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  5. I cannot read or soak up enough history to keep this soul happy. Thank you so much for the chance at this! :)

  6. I cannot read or soak up enough history to keep this soul happy. Thank you so much for the chance at this! :)

  7. I read and loved Jack Whyte's book about William Wallace and am so anxious to read this novel. Scottish history is fascinating. Thanks for the giveaway.

  8. Thanks very much for your review. I don't know much about Robert myself but being of Scots descent I'm always interested in learning more. The book about Wallace interests me as well. Thanks for the introduction to this author. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  9. I love this place, time and subject. Thanks for the giveaway. nanze55(at)hotmail(dot)com

  10. I don't know much about this time period. Would love to read this book to learn more.

    tmrtini at gmail dot (com)

  11. Of course although I loved Braveheart despite it's inaccuracies, the character of Robert the Bruce's life. Could he truly have made such a deal with Longshanks, just do along to get along. I read most of your synopsis but not too much to ruin the surprise. Please enter me and a cheery thanks.

  12. This sounds like a really interesting read! Thanks for the giveaway!


  13. Thanks for the great review and giveaway! This one and the first sound like must reads to me!

  14. Isn't Robert the Bruce featured in Tristan and Isolde?
    Thanks for the giveaway!

    mestith at gmail dot com

  15. I have read all of Jack Whyte's Camulod Chronicles, but not yet the Scottish Trilogy..

  16. Whoops: my email is

  17. Hi Jenny!

    I actually came across your review for In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks through one of my goodreads email updates and noticed you have a blog. So I figured to stop by and say hello!

    My first dabble in reading romance was actually historical romance, so that particular genre will always hold a special place in my heart. I actually have 3 of Maya Banks Highlander series sitting on my shelf, but haven't had the chance to read them yet. Even though I haven't tried her series out yet, I do understand and agree that lately it is hard to find Highlander romances that stand out. They all kind of sound the same.

    I know you have tons of reviews (was checking out some of them) so I apologize if you have already checked out these authors, but may I recommend Karen Marie Moning's highlander series, starting with Beyond the Highland Mist. It sort of mixes time travel/paranormal elements. Also, if you enjoyed reading about Robert the Bruce, a few months back I read and reviewed a book on my blog called A Rose in the Storm by Brenda Joyce. You can check out my review on my blog HERE.

    Anyway, great reviews, beautiful blog-- I am now following you and will be back to check out more. Feel free to stop by my blog sometime!

    Best Wishes,
    Mia @ The Muses Circle

    Mia @ The Muses Circle

    1. Hey Mia! Nice to meet you! I just stopped by your blog and followed! Looking forward to your posts. I have not had a chance to read Karen Marie Moning yet, though I know she's super popular. Thanks for recommending the Joyce book, I'll check it out!


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