Guest Author - Asha Sahni
This is indeed a wee (small) book - 88 pages long, including appendices and index.
A Wee Guide To Robert The Bruce is written in an easy, storytelling style which draws the reader in from the first paragraph. It tackles a turbulent and complex time in Scotland’s history with verve and vigour. If your preference is for history annotated with sources this may not be the book for you. If you enjoy stories and anecdotes that give you a flavour of a historical time you may find yourself devouring this wee guide in one sitting.
The Introduction is prefaced by a useful “How To Use This Book” section, explaining the structure of the book, key themes and points of interest.
A Calendar of Events, maps, illustrations, family trees and photos complement the text. The chapter on the Battle of Bannockburn includes four battle plans which detail the progress of a battle where Bruce led Scots to a stunning victory over the English.
The book has eleven short, fact-packed chapters. Historical scene setting means that Robert the Bruce does not start to play an active part in the book until the end of Chapter Two, when he revolts against orders from King Edward of England and joins other Scots leaders opposed to English rule.
Bruce was born in 1274 and died in 1329. It was a time when man’s inhumanity to man meant that those who fought for king, for country were aware they might suffer a bloody death. The book details the fate of some of the characters in Bruce’s story - for instance the blacksmith who was paid in gold for his treachery by being force fed molten gold.
The Places to Visit section at the end of the book could date. It includes a map wtth all Scottish attractions marked. Due to Bruce’s frequent forays on to English soil several places to visit in England are also mentioned. Information for each site includes facilities and an indication as to whether there is a charge for admission. There are also codes to indicate whether sites belong to English Heritage, Historic Scotland or the National Trust for Scotland.
The index focuses on people and places, omitting some words which are unusual and may be unfamiliar to a reader - for instance schiltrons which are a type of battle formation.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in Scottish history.