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'The Lion Wakes' by Robert Low

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Manda Scott
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'The Lion Wakes' by Robert Low

Post by Manda Scott » Thu July 14th, 2011, 12:33 pm

This is the blurb:
A nation will fight for its freedom.

The first novel in a major new series as Robert Low moves from the Vikings to the making of Scotland.

In the dying days of the 13th century, Scotland is in turmoil. The death of Alexander III has plunged the country into war, both with itself and with Edward I of England. Determined to bring the north under his control, Edward instead unleashes a Scottish rebellion which unites the many warring factions against him - though the old hatreds are not easily put aside.

Sir Hal Sientcler of Herdmanston, a minor noble of Lothian, finds himself caught up in the chivalry and honour, as well as the betrayal and murder that form these desperate days. As the rebellion gathers pace, Sir Hal is thrust into the maelstrom of plot and counterplot which shapes the lives of the great and good in both realms - including rebel leaders William Wallace and Robert the Bruce - as well as neighbours who now find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield.

Hal makes a powerful enemy out of the Earl of Buchan, arch-rival of the Bruces, and swears revenge. But first he must survive battles at Stirling Brig and Falkirk; the treachery of rival factions; and guard a secret that Robert the Bruce would protect from the outside world at any cost.

When the lion wakes, everyone must fear its fangs…


I adored this book, but then I am a Scot, I grew up among the Lowland Scot's language that scatters the book and had no trouble translating it ( i had no idea half of it was difficult until my partner read the book - she's assuredly not a Scot and had no clue, tho' I did point out that almost everything is translated in the text, which helped) I was also brought up in a nation where we learn 'Flower of Scotland' as almost the first song we sing - and we learn to loathe the nation that brought Edward I, Hammer of the Scots, north to slaughter the flower of Scottish manhood. My step daughters truly don't get it that we all wear an invisible sweatshirt that says, 'I support Scotland, and whoever's playing England' and that the auld enemy will be enemy for life.

So having got that off my chest - it may be that I only adored this book because it is of me and mine - of Scotland and the Scots and the ways in which we did and didn't defeat the enemy, England - - but I don't think so. There are plenty of other books of the Scotland/England wars out there, but none of them has set my heart and mind on fire as this one has.

It's a combination of stunning prose (I am a real sucker for people who can use the English language to its fullest effect and some of Low's prose is just a delight to read and re-read), the sense of place and time - the awful, grinding poverty of the peasant classes runs like a scream through the entire book - and the passion of the central characters (the consummation-of-love scene is one of the best I have ever read) as well as a basic crime-novel plot that grabs the reader from the start and weaves through the rest to an almost-satisfying conclusion. This is the first in a series of 3 and doubtless the rest will follow.

What really strikes me is the shift in gear: Rob Low's Viking series, 'The Oathsworn' was fun and fine and had lots of battles and good depth of character, but they were boy's own books, written for little boys who have never grown up, for all that they inhabit the skins of adult men.

These books are by a grown-up for grown ups... it's the biggest change of style I've ever read, and magnificently realised.

So this is another 5/5 book, and I am looking forward hugely to the next.

m
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Bestselling author of
Boudica: Dreaming. INTO THE FIRE out in June 2015: Forget what you thought you knew, this changes everything.

[url=http:www.mandascott.co.uk]http:www.mandascott.co.uk[/url]

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Post by annis » Fri July 15th, 2011, 3:37 am

I'm with you on this one, Manda. I thought this book was terrific. I know it's not to everyone's taste, and some readers struggle with the use of dialect but I feel that RL always makes the meaning clear either in the context or in an explanation close by, so i can't really see the problem myself. I thought it added to the atmosphere. Funny thing is, when I first read Lion Wakes the use of language brought Alan Massie's novel The Hanging Tree to mind, and I was intrigued by Rob's comment elsewhere that HT in fact inspired the writing style for his own book. I had actually originally drawn a comparison between the two books in my review of Lion Wakes before I knew that, but took it out because to be honest I thought so few other readers would know Massie's book and get the connection. A pity, because Hanging Tree is excellent, and well worth a read for anyone interested in fiction set in the Anglo-Scottish Borderlands.
Last edited by annis on Fri July 15th, 2011, 5:02 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Manda Scott
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Post by Manda Scott » Mon July 18th, 2011, 3:25 pm

Annis - I'm ashamed to say I haven't read The Hanging Tree - and after a weekend at the HWA festival, I'm laden with books that sound exceptional (everything from Constantinople by CC Humphreys to Instruments of Darkness by Imogen Roberston - there'll be some mammoth reviewing shortly) so it'll take a while for it to join the pile, but after having read TLW, I'll definitely give it a go...

This is one of the truly frustrating things about life: there's only so much time to spare and so many good new books, it's hard to go back and read the older ones- that are equally good...

thanks for this

m
*******************************

Bestselling author of
Boudica: Dreaming. INTO THE FIRE out in June 2015: Forget what you thought you knew, this changes everything.

[url=http:www.mandascott.co.uk]http:www.mandascott.co.uk[/url]

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Madeleine
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Currently reading: "The Likeness" by Tana French & "My Lemon Grove Summer" by Jo Thomas
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Post by Madeleine » Mon July 18th, 2011, 3:48 pm

I loved Instruments of Darkness, really enjoyed it, hope you like it!
Currently reading "The Likeness" by Tana French & "My Lemon Grove Summer" by Jo Thomas

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Post by rebecca » Wed July 20th, 2011, 1:55 am

I have 'The Lion Wakes' on my TBR list but I like to buy all the trilogies at once so I can read one after the other. Does anyone know when the other's in this series are due out? Going by the above comments I am sure once I start to read it I will probably enjoy it.

Bec :)

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Post by annis » Wed July 20th, 2011, 3:00 am

Bec, The Lion at Bay, Bk 2 in this trilogy, has a tentative publication date of February 2012. I'd say the third one would probably come out about a year after that.

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Post by rebecca » Tue September 20th, 2011, 1:01 am

Thanks Annis :)

forgive the late reply. Sometimes I post things and then forget where I posted it :p lol I call these my senior moments.

I did see on Tanzatine list of books many that I would like to buy including the second Low book.

Bec :)

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