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Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Crown in the Heather


Review of The Crown in the Heather by N. Gemini Sasson

Overview from Love and loyalty. Betrayal and murder. What is the cost of a crown?
In 1290, Scotland is without a king. Two families - the Bruces and the Balliols - vie for the throne.
Robert the Bruce is in love with Elizabeth de Burgh, the daughter of an adherent of the ruthless Longshanks, King of England. In order to marry her and not give up his chances of someday becoming King of Scots, Robert must abandon his rebel ways and bide his time as Longshanks' vassal.
But Edward, Longshanks' heir, doesn't trust the opportunistic Scotsman and vows to one day destroy him. While quietly plotting his rebellion, Robert is betrayed by one of his own and must flee Longshanks' vengeance.
Aided by the unlikely brilliance of the soft-spoken young nobleman, James Douglas, Robert battles for his throne. Victory, though, is never certain and Robert soon learns that keeping his crown may mean giving up that which he loves most-his beloved Elizabeth.

My Review:

This week’s story, like many, is the first in series (probably a trilogy). It was free when I got it on Barnes & Noble’s website. And last I checked it is still free now as an e-book.

Our story opens with Robert the Bruce and primarily features his point of view. Although some of the action shows Robert as a young man, most of it takes places as he is aging. The narrative seems to take off when he crosses his father by deciding that he will no longer be Longshanks’ man—think Braveheart because that is exactly the time period we are talking about.

Later Robert changes sides briefly to be with the woman he loves and to stay alive. It is not enough to put him back in his father’s good graces even if he thinks he is only doing what he thinks is best for his beloved Scotland.

Robert along with another main character, James Douglas, another Scottish noble, knows what it means to play both sides of the fence. Unfortunately James Douglas also sees what happens to those who double cross Longshanks when Longshanks kills his father.

Our final main character, the one I liked the least, is Longshanks’s son, also named Edward I think. We get an idea of the hatred between father and son from the get go as Edward refers to his father as his “sire.” It struck me as a rather cold name for a father and as I read further and further into the book, I believed that this was the author’s intention.

The writing was well done. I kept turning pages and wondering what was to happen next and yet the language seemed respectful of the time period it came from. Also, two out of the three protagonists were likable. The third was someone I felt sorry for but not enough to find him likable. He seemed as cruel as his father was and was not able to turn his bad childhood experiences into something positive the way that Douglas did.

I learned a lot from this story. The thing I appreciated the most was learning about Marjorie Bruce, Robert’s daughter. I didn’t know she had even existed. Her relationships with her father and step mother were beautifully portrayed here.

The story took me on a great ride and it was nice to see someone other than Mel Gibson as William Wallace as well, even if it is only in this story. I recommend this one as a great read and not too much bad language though there is some. There is also some violence, as well as attempted rape.

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