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Posts: 1
Joined: February 2016
Currently reading: Outlander series
Interest in HF: History of scotland
Location: North Dakota USA


Post by Catcarbon » Sun February 7th, 2016, 5:39 am

I will be traveling to Scotland in May(2016). Would like to brush up on Scottish history, especially regarding Robert the Bruce. Any suggestions on a book or books...thanks!

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Joined: August 2008
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Re: Scotland

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun February 7th, 2016, 3:58 pm

Welcome, Catcarbon! We have anumber of Scots on the forum who can give you tips, but for reading, one of my all-time favorite reads is set in early 15th century Scotland and France: Reay Tannahill's the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. Had me riveted from the first page to the last. It involves a fictional family that gets mixed up in the very real assassination plot on the life of King James I, and gives you a vivid tour of the life and times of early renaissance Europe on the way. Enjoy!

Also, if you have the patience to get through a rather convoluted beginning, there is the Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett. She's very dense, and spends a lot of time hiding where the book is going. For the first half of the first book, you wonder WHY everybody is so crazy about her writing. But once the 'aha' moment hits, you're hooked for the whole six-book series. King's Game is all in Scotland, Queen's Play is young Mary Queen of Scots at the French court, the Disorderly Knights starts and ends in Scotland, Pawn in Frankincense wanders around the Ottoman Empire, the Ringed Castle is set between England/Russia, and Checkmate is France and Scotland.

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Re: Scotland

Post by Misfit » Mon February 8th, 2016, 8:37 pm

Hi and welcome. Sorry I can't help you, but I just watched the most amazing video with aerial views that might inspire you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=y ... pp=desktop
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be

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Re: Scotland

Post by Carla » Thu February 11th, 2016, 8:38 pm

Hello Catcarbon and welcome! May is a lovely time of year in Scotland - I think it's my favourite season.

For historical fiction about Robert Bruce, Nigel Tranter and Robert Low have both written trilogies. Nigel Tranter's trilogy was written around 1970, and follows Bruce as the central character from the age of 20 or so until his death. I like this trilogy very much; it's among my favourite historical novels. Bruce is a heroic figure (but not without flaws), the Wars of Independence provide plenty of drama and adventure to keep the story bowling along, and the political complexity of Scotland at the time is well captured - plenty of Scots nobles fought alongside Edward I and/or against Bruce. The landscape descriptions are terrific; if your visit takes you to any of the locations in the novels, you'll probably enjoy relating the scenery around you to the scenery as described. I think my favourite is the Hebridean Lordship of the Isles in Book II. The titles of the individual books, in order, are: The Steps to the Empty Throne; The Path of the Hero-King; and The Price of the King's Peace.

Robert Low's trilogy is much more recent, published in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Although they also cover the Wars of Independence and Robert Bruce is a major character, the central character is Hal of Herdmanston, a fictional minor lord from Lothian in south-east Scotland. They start in 1296 and go through to the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. I would say these have a stronger mystery/adventure element in them than Nigel Tranter's trilogy; each of the three novels has a fictional mystery or quest plot of its own, which connects with the Wars of Indepedence at the major battles. Robert Low uses quite strong Scots dialect for some of the dialogue, especially in the first novel (it seems to be toned down in the second and third), so that might be off-putting at first. There's a glossary of Scots dialect words at the back, and it's well worth bookmarking this if you're not familiar with the dialect. The battle scenes are extensive and gruesome - much more so than in Tranter's trilogy, where the battle scenes are a lot less graphic. Robert Low is a re-enactor, and the battle scenes certainly give the impression that he really does know what to do with a battle-axe. I would say Tranter's trilogy is better for the history, and Low's series is better for graphic battle scenes, exotic adventure, and having ordinary people as important characters as well as nobles. The titles are, in order: The Lion Wakes; The Lion at Bay; The Lion Rampant. My reviews are here if interested: http://carlanayland.blogspot.co.uk/2012 ... eview.html; http://carlanayland.blogspot.co.uk/2012 ... -book.html; http://carlanayland.blogspot.co.uk/2014 ... -book.html.

If you're visiting the Borders and/or are interested in the Border Reivers, I'd recommend George MacDonald Fraser's non-fiction history of the reiving culture over three centuries The Steel Bonnets, and his wonderful novella The Candlemas Road for fiction.

Further north, and further back in time (11th century), Dorothy Dunnett's King Hereafter is another of my all-time favourites. It's her take on the historical Macbeth (her theory on his identity is unproven), and draws on elements from the Norse sagas as well as Scottish history. It's set mainly in the Highlands and Orkney.

Hope this gives you some ideas! Have a wonderful trip!
PATHS OF EXILE - love, war, honour and betrayal in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria
Editor's Choice, Historical Novels Review, August 2009
Now available as e-book on Amazon Kindleand in Kindle, Epub (Nook, Sony Reader), Palm and other formats on Smashwords
Website: http://www.carlanayland.org
Blog: http://carlanayland.blogspot.com

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