Sunday, January 12, 2020

Review: To Crown A King by Raedene Jeannette Melin

48733390. sy475 Synopsis: Scotland, 1295. The kingdom is on the verge of rebellion. John Balliol wears the crown, but even his powerful Comyn kin cannot break King Edward of England’s insatiable desire to conquer the northern realm.

For Christina Bruce, neither man is worthy of being called King of Scots. Born into the influential Bruce family, the only noble house to rival the Comyns, she is expected to obey her father and side with England. But when a chance meeting with an outlaw named William Wallace brings her into the conflict, she risks everything to get what she wants most – freedom.

To Crown A King is the empowering tale of Christina Bruce and her struggle between family loyalty and Scottish freedom. Discover her untold story and follow along as she takes her destined place in history.

Firstly, I would suggest having some sort of pre-knowledge of the period in order to keep track of the characters in this fictional account of Cristina de Brus at the time of the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 13th century.

Late 13th century Scotland was a period of increased turmoil both politically and economically. The Scottish throne was left vacant with the death of the young Margaret, Maid of Norway. In the ensuing scramble to secure a successor to the Scottish throne, there was, at one stage, no few than 14 potential "competitors" or "claimants" - the most notably being from the families of de Brus (Bruce), Comyn, Balliol. This is where things get a bit tricky - Kind Edward I of England was approached as a kind of referee in the matter - he willingly accepted on the grounds that he should be regent or suzerain during this period, and then put forth his own candidate! Homage was paid, oaths were sworn and retracted, alliances made and unmade, all of this leading to what is now known as the First Scottish War of Independence.

The book, for me, was a quick read - there was very little by way of political, personal or geographical detail. Whilst attracted to the premise of focusing on a rarely explored period in Scottish history and bringing to the fore one of the less-known Bruce women, I really felt no connection with the character of Cristina

The story, such as it was, was bland and all together devoid of anything that could really identify this period - and apart from some later mentions of William Wallace - this could have been written about anywhere and nowhere, or quite simply have been made up completely. The tale ends shortly after Wallace's execution - and I could not decide if this is a single story or was to be part of something more. And likewise could not determine if it's target audience was adults or young adults.

For me, author Nigel Tranter covers this period in much better detail and narrative.

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