Nonfiction: Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots by Michael Penman

Medieval history is an extraordinarily rich source for fantasy writers, full of adventure and suspense and lots of blood. Unfortunately this academic book on Robert the Bruce manages to make that stuff sound dull.

Hillbilly Highways

As I mentioned in my post on Braveheart and Outlaw/King, the history of the Scots-English border region is the history of hillbillies.  There is no Scots-English border region, and thus no distinctive culture for David Hackett Fischer to catalog, without a Scotland to provide one side of the border.  And there is no Scotland without Robert the Bruce.

Braveheart features the Bruce in a bit role that is only a little bit historical.  Outlaw/King is centered on the Bruce but, like most accounts, it only tells the tale of how he won the realm, not how he kept it.  Penman’s account’s primary selling point is that he devotes as much attention to the Bruce’s post-Bannockburn career as to what happens before.

Sadly, Penman falls into the academic history trap of sucking all of the tremendous inherent drama out of his narrative.

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About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
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3 Responses to Nonfiction: Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots by Michael Penman

  1. Jeff says:

    “The history of hillbillies” — haha, I hadn’t heard that before!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I hate it when they do that, i.e., academics who smother entertainment with a wet blanket of textbook facts. Why not make history fun and interesting? They just might sell more books that way and they could still look down their noses at those of us browse the best sellers list for the latest psychological thriller–and rightfully so.

    Liked by 1 person

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