05 April, 2008

A Bannockburn Book, And Some Novels

I've just started reading - and am thoroughly enjoying - Chris Brown's Bannockburn 1314: A New History, which came out a few days ago. It's a source-based work, with some great insights into Edward II, Robert Bruce and the events that led to the battle, very well-written and extremely informative. Highly recommended! Dr Brown has also written about William Wallace and Robert Bruce - more books to add to my ever-expanding TBR pile.

On the subject of Robert Bruce, I've recently discovered a series of novels about him called Rebel King, by Charles Randolph Bruce and Carolyn Hale Bruce. So far, three novels of a planned five-book series have been published - more information on the authors' very informative website. I ordered the Bannockburn one an age ago, from the US, and it's taking so long to arrive I can only assume some unfortunate postman is having to swim across the Atlantic to bring it to me. I'm dying to read it - all the novels have great reviews on Amazon.com.

And a couple of new(ish) novels of Edward II's reign, kind of, to tell you about...

Firstly, there's The Ravenous by W. B. Baker, set in Wales in 1316. Here's the synopsis from Amazon:

"Centuries of warfare had barely encroached upon Glamorgan's boundaries and any who dared its conquest met with bold resistance. Warriors lurking in the mountains of Wales invited all unwary trespassers to come and taste of death. Such was the case in 1316, when Edward II attempted to resurrect a United Kingdom after the execution of William Wallace. As Edward and his Nobles would all too soon discover, the rage that English garrisons uncovered across the valleys of Wales would prove to rival any fury of the Scots. Events and surroundings that would reveal the determination and true nobility of humankind."

I really enjoy histfict set in Wales (yay for Sharon Penman's Welsh trilogy!) so I'm definitely looking forward to reading this one. There's more information on the author here.

Secondly, there's The Queen's Tale by D. J. Birmingham, a novel of John de Bermingham. Bermingham is one of the men of Edward II's reign I always feel I don't know a lot about. He was an associate of Roger Mortimer in Ireland, and was made justiciar of that country in 1320. He's mostly known for defeating Robert Bruce's brother Edward at the battle of Dundalk in 1318, and sending his head to Edward II (Edward Bruce was a member of Edward II's household before he became king, a little-known fact). Edward II made Bermingham earl of Louth the following year in gratitude, and he ended up joining the retinue of the younger Despenser. Bermingham, one of the many sons-in-law of the earl of Ulster - Robert Bruce was another, as was Edward II's nephew the earl of Gloucester - was killed in 1329.

You can read an excerpt of Queen's Tale here - poor Isabella! :-)


Jules Frusher said...

Oh Gawd, the TBR pile! *groans* And now you're tempting us with more!!! And a YAY for Sharon Penman's Welsh trilogy from me too!!!

Carla said...

I'll look out for the Bannockburn book in particular! Fascinatng battle.

Kathryn Warner said...

Sorry to add to your tottering TBR pile, Lady D. ;)

Carla: it really is, and there's an upsurge of interest in it these days, with a couple more books on the battle coming out this year.

Gabriele Campbell said...

I'm looking forward to a review about the Wales novel, and here's hope the Robert the Bruce one will find its way to you. He's an interesting character who deserves some good novels (though Nigel Tranter's books weren't bad, but there's never too much good hist fic).

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, Gabriele - unfortunately, the novel still hasn't shown up. (I hope the postman hasn't drowned on his long swim. ;)

Anonymous said...

Baker's Carmarthen Trilogy - The Orphans of Carmarthen, Vault of the Griffin, and Ordeal of the Dragon - contain some of the finest exposition and imagery I have seen in years. His latest novel, The Ravenous, is surely one of the best historical fictions of the decade ... easily comparable to the book/movie Braveheart. Set in Wales shortly after the death of William Wallace, Baker encapulates not only the turmoil of Britian during this turbulent period but reveals the nobility of the people who try to make sense of the conflict. A great story - by an author with excellent insight and command of the English language. Small wonder he has been honored by Queen Elizabeth and the United States as well.

Anonymous said...

It remains a mystery how such talented writers as W. B. Baker continue to escape recognition. As a distinguished author of so many books that champion the British people around the world; one must pause to wonder how, amidst the thousands on the Honours Lists each year, this particular writer has been completely overlooked for a Knighthood. Any who have read Baker's glorious portrayal of our heritage would be quick to question this glaring oversight as well.

Anonymous said...

Everyone should go take a look at:


The Ravenous is a GREAT book about Edward II and the Welsh Revolts.