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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Thursday 28 July 2011

The Lion Awakes

First on my holiday reading list has been Robert Low's new book 'The Lion Awakes'. He is the author of the Oathsworn series of Viking novels. His new 'Kingdom' series covers Scotland at the end of the 13th Century, both the internal conflicts and external wars with England.

In the best tradition of the historical novel the main character is a fictitious minor noble who is close to the main events. This volume starts in 1297 with Edward ruling Scotland and Wallace leading the rebellion, together with the internal Bruce - Balliol civil war. The Battle of Stirling Bridge is central to the book that ends with the Battle of Falkirk in July 1298. 

Anyone covering this period is bound to be compared with Nigel Tranter and his treatment of both Wallace and Bruce. Tranter had a more romantic style that generally portrayed his heroes in a positive light. Low goes for a more gritty, warts and all presentation that has ruffled a few feathers. The reality is that our sources for the period are limited and therefore the historical novelist has plenty of interpretative scope. 

The Lion WakesI declare an interest in that the author is a member of our wargames society and I am a big fan of his style. He is a journalist by profession and that shines through. He loves to tell the story and one of his Viking novels lacked pace by getting distracted with too much saga story telling. But that isn't a problem here. You get a real feel for the period and what it was like to live and fight in those difficult times. The internal politics of Scotland in this period is fully brought out, so for those who view the period as a nationalist England v Scotland issue will be sorely disappointed. Braveheart this isn't. Highly recommended.


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