Monday, March 19, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - The Wallace

The Wallace
Nigel Tranter
Coronet, 1998 (1975)
442 pages

Now we move from 9th century England to Scotland during what is perhaps that country’s most critical period, the final years of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century. As the book opens King Edward I of England has recently deposed King John Baliol of Scotland and send him into exile in France and asserted his perceived right to rule the nation as the Lord Paramount of Scotland, a title granted to him when Edward arbitrated the succession question left by the death of Queen Margaret. The refusal of some of the Scots lords and knights to submit to Edward’s rule and do him homage have led to vicious treatment of many at the hands of the English army and the death of more than a few of the resistant lords. This is the stage onto which erupts the now familiar character of William Wallace, the titular character of this book, which tells the story of the final eight years of Wallace’s life; years in which Wallace went from being a simple rural knight’s son to a national hero.

Even though this is only the second or fourth book I have read by Nigel Tranter, the first or first three being his Bruce trilogy in omnibus format, he is one of my favorite authors. His books are always satisfying in a very intellectual manner. The prose is challenging to read without being burdensome and he always manages to throw in a few words which send me scurrying for a dictionary. While not as compulsively readable to Iggulden, Tranter’s novels are highly enjoyable and when you are done you feel as though you have learned a thing or two about his subject. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone with an even passing interest in the time period or the character of William Wallace, particularly since this book follows the historical record FAR better than the film which made William Wallace a household name in the United States.

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