6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lion Wakes
Excellent Novel. If you like Historical fiction or Medieval Scotland, this is for you. Low's writing is fantastic and his detailed research really shines. The minutiae of everyday life are woven into the story in a meaningful way and creates a great atmosphere.
Low has an interesting cast of characters in 13th century Scotland, all with their own personalities...
Published on August 10, 2011 by Allan Brinser
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overdone and not as good as the Oathsworn
First posted on Amazon.co.uk on 26 December 2011
Leaving his very successful Oathsworn series aside, Robert Low has started on a new series that takes place at the time of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Edward the first. Unfortunately, and along with many other reviewers, it is just not as good. While the story is reasonably well told, the author seems...
Published 21 months ago by JPS
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Lion Wakes,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) (Hardcover)Excellent Novel. If you like Historical fiction or Medieval Scotland, this is for you. Low's writing is fantastic and his detailed research really shines. The minutiae of everyday life are woven into the story in a meaningful way and creates a great atmosphere.
Low has an interesting cast of characters in 13th century Scotland, all with their own personalities and dont strictly adhere to the sorts of stock stereotypes that often pop up. I did struggle a bit keeping track of the characters, though I fault myself and not Low here. It's not along the lines of some Russian Epic, but there are a good number of characters popping up. Bear with it and they become more intertwined and it's a bit easier to remember who's who.
What really surprises, and saddens, me is that there is only one review here, and that it is only one star. The complaint in that review is due to the large number of Scottish phrases that Low uses. Personally I loved the use of Scots, Gaelic, French, and Latin sprinkled in. The few times I didn't understand the meaning, or couldn't understand within the context, Low was one step ahead. Turn the page - lo and behold one of the characters is asking what on earth some phrase means, which was very cleverly done.
For those who enjoyed Low's previous series, The Oathsworn, there is much here you will enjoy, albeit at a more measured pace. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction or is interested in Medieval Scotland
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elegant historical story-telling,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kindle Edition)Some of the best historical fiction shows you the past as a rich backdrop, from sights to smells and how people spoke to one another.
This involves more scholarship than, say Ryder Haggard, but it speaks to readers who take history seriously, and enjoy a well realized character who seems like a friend who just stepped out for a minute, but still has the wild, stonking surprises. The past is at least as strange as another country, since McDonalds and Walmart and ATMs became ubiquitous.
Lowe has the Wallace and Bruce story, which many met in "Braveheart" and others found from genealogy-rich almost "lives of the saints"style prose, especially from the Tartan revival when strong women reinvented Scots history. He adds solid scholarship and a war correspondent's experienced eye for the telling detail and familiarity with unpredictable interludes of serious violence.
As one comment notes, Lowe uses non-Gaelic Scots language, and at least half his characters simply cannot understand it. But if you are open to a little guessing, the oddest words are defined by context or paraphrased in English a few lines down.
This is the first of a new series, so there's a lot to look forward to.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overdone and not as good as the Oathsworn,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) (Hardcover)First posted on Amazon.co.uk on 26 December 2011
Leaving his very successful Oathsworn series aside, Robert Low has started on a new series that takes place at the time of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and Edward the first. Unfortunately, and along with many other reviewers, it is just not as good. While the story is reasonably well told, the author seems to have gone a bit "overboard" in a number of respects, taking the risk of putting of some of his readers.
First, there is the choice of the period itself. While the struggles in Scotland and the North in the last decade of the 13th century and the two first decades of the next century are, of course, fascinating, there are already a number of novels out there on this period (such as the first of the series of Robyn Young, which I mostly preferred to this one).
Second, it is also easy to go astray and portray the period as "a nation fighting for its freedom". To be fair, this is not (or rather not quite) what Robert Low does but he is somewhat borderline, almost biaised at times. One of the strong points of the book is to show that the nobility cared more about their own rivalries and interests than they cared about the common men. However, ever this is largely a simplification because both the nobles and the commoners were such mixed bunches that it is rather unsurprising to see them so divided. In fact, many of the Scottish nobles (but not all) were of franco-norman descent (such as the Bruce themselves or the Balliols), just like the "Anglo-norman" nobles. In both cases, their "mother-tongues" would be neither Scottish (and any Scottish dialect) not English, but French. Some of these families also had lands on BOTH sides of the border, in Scotland and in England - the Bruces being a prime - but by no means isolated - example. It is rather uncertain as to whether, after a few generations, the franco-norman nobles in Scotland would be speaking "Scottish", assuming there was a single language for all of the common people, which is also doubful. As to having Bruce speaking Gaelic, as he does early on in the book, this is simply not plausible.
This is where Robert Law, who has his characters speaking in "Scottish", goes over the top, overdoes it and may even seem biaised. If the point was to make the story "sound more authentic", then all of his knights on both sides should have spoken French all the time, as opposed to English or "Scottish". So it seems that the author has been somewhat selectively "authentic". Other points that are a bit overdone are the gore and stench. While the author clearly wanted to show the violence and the lack of cleanliness and hygiene and a time when you were old by the age of 40, I did have thge impression that both points were belabored.
Having done with all my gripes, there are also quite a few things that I did like with this book. One example was the way Low chose to portray William Wallace (I won't say more otherwise I'll have to give away some of the plot). Another was to somewhat minimize the physical importance of the Battle at Stirling: it was only the English vanguard that was defeated (a third of the total) and the armies were probably no more than 5000 or 6000 strong on each side.
Another good point was to show the problems that all kings in Europe were facing in the late 13th century: they could not keep their army together for periods in excess of a few months. Their logistics were rather poor. The feudal levies would largely leave after 40 days. The treasuries were often not sufficient to pay for large numbers of soldiers all year round. There was often also a high rate of desertions for various reasons: the campaign was harder than expected; the troops pay was in arrears or some troops disbanded and scattered to plunder the countryside. All these elements were very well shown on The Lion Wakes.
So, certainly a good read and worth three stars, but it could have been better.
4.0 out of 5 stars Lion Wakes,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Paperback)A very good book with many detailed characters. You step back in time to the scottish rebellion. The only reason I gave it a 4 stars instead of a 5 stars is because I couldn't understand a lot of the scottish accent that is written. I don't want to slow down my reading pace every page or so. Other than that you will get plenty of action, drama, comedy and sad stuff to keep you turning the pages the whole way through. You get to see the world of those times through the eyes of so many different type of people ( from peasants to knights - british to scottish)
4.0 out of 5 stars Tough but enjoyable,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) (Hardcover)The obtuse/archaic language at times made this a struggle. The side characters were not as fleshed out as I would have liked and the "mystery" was easily figured out. All that being said--it was an enjoyable read. Mr. Low does such a superb job of putting you in late 13th Century Scotland--he paints such a picture of the times--you almost feel as though you are there. This a rare ability (so well demonstrated in his Oathsworn Series) that many who try cannot accomplish. I am looking forward to the second book in the series.
5.0 out of 5 stars so it's not the Oathsworn and he uses unfamiliar words: get over it.,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kindle Edition)I am glad I did not read the reviews before I read the book. It isn't an Oathsworn novel, but the charachters are rich and well developed and both the detail and action are compelling. The author does make use of many words outside the lexicon of anyone who isn't a Scot, but there is often a translation or explanation. It sets the book apart. I suppose the book is unsuitable for the intellectually lazy...
5.0 out of 5 stars sleeping lion,
This review is from: Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Paperback)I wanted to review the purchase as I know many vendors depend on honest reviews. This book was purchased as a gift for THIS Christmas, so it will be some time before I can get a review from my husband. That said, the book arrived promptly and in the condition stated. I would buy from this seller again.
As for Low, my husband has enjoyed all his other books and, since he is Scottish, I predict he will be enthralled with this book when he receives it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bruce and Wallace - warts and all!,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) (Hardcover)Set in the turbulent period of Scottish history of Wallace and Bruce, this book gives an unvarnished and unromanticised picture of the still almost barbarian life in Scotland then. No great patriots here, fighting for independence. The picture instead is of a group of scheming aristocrats, plotting how best to gain more land and wealth for themselves, and willing to destroy both the land and the common people to achieve their ends. Willing also to side with Edward, the English king, against their fellow Scots whenever they thought they could gain by it.
I found the early part of this book difficult for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the main protagonists are sometimes called by their name, sometimes their title and sometimes a nickname - for instance, there are two John Comyns, both known as Lord of Badenoch, one nicknamed the Red Comyn and the other the Black Comyn. Frequent reference to the list of characters at the back of the book can help here. Secondly, the author emphasises early on the fact that there were several languages in use at the time, Norman French, English, various Scots dialects and some Latin thrown in for good measure. This is important because it emphasises the class divides in society and the fact that the aristocracy had more in common with their English counterparts than with the Scottish people. However, sometimes the way the author handles this early on can be a little clumsy.
But stick with it, it's worth it. As my reading 'ear' got tuned in to the author's voice, I found the writing had sometimes an almost lyrical quality and a distinctive speech pattern reminiscent of the way English is spoken today in the Highlands. The book seems pretty historically accurate to me (having studied this period a little myself) and for anyone who knows only the 'Flower of Scotland' myth of Bruce and Wallace could be a real eye-opener. The murder plot that the book is hung on is really incidental - the interest of this book is in the history of the politics and society it portrays. An excellent read - I will certainly be looking out for the next in the series.
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So very dissapointing,
This review is from: The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) (Hardcover)I really wanted to like this book. I find the William Wallace era very interesting and Jack Whyte's recent book was excellent. Sadly this book, despite its promise, is almost unreadable because of the author's use of Scottish words and phrases. For the first 200 hundred pages I constantly went to the Scottish phrases provided only to be frustrated to find that the phrase he was using was not there. Finally I gave up in frustration. I really wanted to enjoy this book but frankly it is way to much work for the minimal benefit that the reader receives. If you want to read about this era I highly recommend Jack Whyte's excellent book and recommend that you give this one a pass.
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The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series) (Kingdom (Harper Collins)) by Robert Low (Hardcover - April 14, 2011)
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