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  • A vivid retelling of Robert Bruce's story

    If there’s one thing that author Robyn Young has excelled at with Kingdom, it’s the sheer attention to detail that many writers of historical fiction would do well to learn from. If ever you wish to be dropped into the muck and mire, and pure visceral experience of what life was like in years gone by, complete with sights, sounds, smells and all the attendant discomfort, Young achieves this in bucketloads. In Kingdom, she ties together the final conflicts faced by Scotland’s King Robert Bruce, as he struggles against the English King Edward, and strives for a united, independent Scotland. Consequently, it’s easy to see where so much of the enmity between the two nations stems from, and both sides have blood on their hands and treachery staining their souls. Edward’s hunt for Robert drives the Scottish king close to his end so many times, it’s almost impossible to believe that Robert’s tenacity resulted in his survival. That he was able to bounce back at all is a miracle. Yet so history would lead us to believe, and this epic is brought to life in Kingdom in a way that is gripping. That being said, the very qualities of this story that deliver such a vivid tableau of a Robert’s struggles are the very things that hamper it. I found it difficult to relate to any of the large cast of characters precisely because Young was attempting to paint in such broad strokes. Her voice is very much omniscient, which kept me from immersing in the story nor feeling any particular emotional investment. People die, horribly and often in most gruesome fashions, yet I couldn’t bring myself to care for their deaths. In Young’s intention to capture the bigger picture, she has, unfortunately had to sacrifice the engagement with narrative arcs in favour of interpretation of the greater events. That being said, this is still a thrilling read with some interesting assessments that will no doubt give history buffs much to consider. Those who’re not completely au fait with the history of the British Isles and who haven’t read the preceding two books may, however, find all the name-dropping and references to past events bewildering, though savvy readers will jump right in and be swept away by the turmoil.

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  • Kingdom

    A good read, obviously well researched and presented in a way so as to keep the readers' interest. Most enjoyable and very informative.

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