||Bruce & Bruce, Inc.
||July 1, 2006
The Army of Bruce has been successful in slowly driving the English out of Scotland, and few castles remain in English hands when Robert's brother lays siege to Castle Stirling. A fine courageous warrior, Edward is not one to relish idly awaiting a surrender. When the castle warden offers a solution to both their problems and Edward agrees, the greatest battle in Scots history is in the offing. Having fought eight years cleverly avoiding a head-on confrontation with England's mighty army, Robert is now forced to do just that. With an army over four times the size of the Army of Bruce, Edward II comes north to put an end to the Scots' rebellion, once and for all.
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Bruce & Bruce, Inc.
The Greatest Battle in Scottish History!
528 pp.; page size 6" X 9", Smythe sewn. In addition to an 'event' map, the book contains approx. 40 character drawings by Charles Randolph Bruce, who also designed and illustrated the book jacket/cover. After the battle alongside the swift burn called Bannock, so many men and horses met their fate in the waters there that one witness claimed, "bodies lay so thick a man could cross the burn dry-shod".
Also available in paperback, ISBN: 0972167471 or 9780972167475
...“We’re not ready!” said the young earl.
“As the king says…” said d’Argentan, “… so will we do.”
“But we three must convince His Majesty that the men are too worn, too poorly arrayed,” pleaded Earl Gilbert.
Aymer shook his head as he spoke. “That be a hopeless task, Milord. ‘Twas decided hours ago that we’re goin’ to march our foot soldiers across the stream shortly, and they are to run the Scots from the trees,” said Pembroke, adding, “If they yet be there.”
“Clifford’s goin’ to be sent around to the backside of the New Park and kill any cowards as they flee,” interjected Giles.
“Clifford!?” Lord Gloucester was incredulous. “Clifford couldn’t do anything yesterday… Why would he be sent to do nothing today?!!”
“Lord Gloucester,” said Pembroke, “… your rivalry with Clifford is beyond me,” said Pembroke.
“My lords, I can hear you,” sang out Edward from within the tent.
“A simple discussion of stratagem, Sire,” offered Pembroke in a louder voice to let the king know he was talking to him.
The three knights stood glum faced until Edward signaled to them that the bathing was completed and they were dressing.
They entered the tent with a wary eye for things untoward, but their hesitation was proven unnecessary.
“Have some bread and wine,” offered the king, as he and Hugh were being dressed by a half-dozen squires.
Gilbert accepted the invitation and poured himself a goblet of wine.
“Where’s Hereford?” said Edward angrily.
“Hain’t seen him as yet, My Liege,” said Pembroke, wanting to sit but his affliction made him opt to stand.
“My Lords, I want all the knights to deploy higher on the hill toward the Scots, and we’ll bring the foot across that stream and in behind them,” instructed the king.
“That your plan?” asked Pembroke, not really caring at that moment.
“Yes!” said Edward, putting an emphatic point on it added, “Yes, it is!”
Hereford entered and bowed to the king.
“Am I gettin' trouble from you as well?” said the king, attempting to head off disagreement with his scheme.
Hereford shrugged, his face suggesting ignorance.
“Well, I have trouble,” started Gloucester.
“I know, My Lord, because you want to wait until tomorrow,” said Edward. “The tent walls are very thin!”
“Yes, Sire, it is my belief that we must get off this godforsaken sompe and wait until tomorrow, when we’re all more rested!” pleaded Gloucester. “We are only in this distress because of Clifford’s and Bohun’s failures of yesterday!”
Sir Humphrey de Bohun silently riled at the disparagement of his nephew and balled his hands to fists once again. Pembroke moved between the men. “‘Tain’t worth it,” he whispered, “Let ignorance have its say.”
“Can we have some action here?!” yelped the king. “I have given an order!!!”
“Your Majesty! Your Majesty!” screamed Sir Ingram de Umfraville as he came bursting into the tent fairly dragging along two of the tent guards who were trying to restrain him.
“Let him be!” ordered the king. “What are you yelpin’ about?”
“Come, Sire! Ye must see this!” he answered.
The sun had barely peeked over the range of low hills to the east when King Edward and his entourage of earls and knights trudged through the mire of dung and piss to the forward position of the standing knights.
“What?” griped the king aggravated that his new-made boots had been ruinously soiled.
“There!” said Ingram pointing uphill, “Along the edge of the wood!”
Edward looked and saw King Robert’s Scots filtering out of the trees, the sun reflected on their weapons though the men were still in shadow, transforming the Scots’ appearance into a possible heavenly host come to do battle with the grand English army.
At the behest of Abbot Maurice, who walked before them holding high the arm bone of Saint Fillan in one hand and a crucifix in the other, they knelt to pray. Those with swords and daggers slipped them from their sheaths and held them pommel heavenward, effectively casting shadows of crosses upon their faces when touched by the first rays of the rising sun.
“See that, Umfraville?” smirked Edward, “…we have won already!”
“Won already?” asked Lord Gilbert as he came to look up the slope.
“They kneel before me and ask for mercy,” boasted the king.
“Aye, they ask mercy, not from ye, Sire, but from God in case they die on the field of battle,” said Sir Ingram.
“I told you that we should wait!” screamed Gloucester.
The king turned on the earl and glowered, “Afraid of mere Scottish soldiers of foot, are you, Cousin?”
“Sir, I fear no man born of woman!” asserted Gilbert, and repaired directly to his tent.
“So, Sir Ingram! You think your countrymen mean to fight us?” said the king, condescendingly, as if teasing a child.
“These men shall fight to the death, Your Majesty. To the very last man,” responded Ingram, clearly awestruck at the heroic sight of Scots, standing from their prayers and forming battle lines.
“Your Majesty,” said d’Argentan, “I agree. They mean to do us battle, and right soon… We had best get arrayed.”
Edward’s eyes widened at the realization that the Scots were moving toward him. “Our plan is useless now!” he lamented. “What shall we do?”
“Sire, we must move these men as far forward as we dare, that we can then bring as many mounted knights in behind them as possible,” advised Giles.
“Yes, Yes! A good plan, Sir Giles… we shall bring in all the knights!” said the king as he turned and ran downhill to his tent to prepare for the coming attack.
Rebel King, Book Three, Bannok Burn
Splendid! Wonderful!! Electrifying!!! Like the old saying, I believe good things come in threes! Book Three of REBEL KING is a continuation of the life and battles of Robert the Bruce. A lesser man would not have persevered. I even think of this great man while engaged in light moments of tug of war with my grandchildren, Ian and Stirling, and I tell them, “Never, ever give up!” and they repeat back to me, “Never, ever give up!” and, like Bruce, they don’t!
I have heard some in Scotland refer to certain people who endure amazing hardships as “having the heart of Bruce”. While visiting with John Shaw of Tordarroch, Chief of Clan Shaw, on the Black Isle a few years ago, he used that phrase to describe a man who had been down on his luck for many years but kept on until he had overcome his personal demons. When you read REBEL KING, Book Three, Bannok Burn, you will know what he means. Robert the Bruce can be compared to Job in the Old Testament regarding his many adversities.
The battle scene is a thriller. You know the outcome, whether you are a student of Scotland’s history or listened to others talk about him. However, once you begin to read the book, you will read it eagerly and find yourself caught up in the battle as if you were on horseback with de Brus. You will experience, as I did, some of the best dialogue between the undermanned heroes, as well as that between the hated villains.
In my opinion, REBEL KING, Book Three is the best of the three volumes from this talented couple. While the first two books are real page turners in their own right, you are in for a great treat with this one. Over the years, there has been much speculation that the books will be made into a movie. I certainly hope so because it will be one I put on my schedule, and since I do not normally go to movies, that should tell you something!
Longer than the first two, this book totals 528 pages. The three books now exceed a half million words regarding the life of de Brus. July 1, 2006 is the date of publication. You will be interested to know that if you order from their website, www.RebelKing.com, you will receive free shipping and may request an autographed copy. Bookstores may order from Ingram and Baker & Taylor (800-247-6553). You can also order from Amazon.com or your local bookstore using ISBN 0-9721674-7-1 (paperback at $19.95), and ISBN 0-9721674-6-2 (hardback for $29.95).
Reviewed by Frank R. Shaw FSA Scot
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