The Kingdom series by Robert Low is a three-book series on the first war of Scottish Independence. It follows the chaotic lives of both famous historical figures like Robert the Bruce and William Wallace and fictional characters which allow the story to develop a creative freedom.
The story is an excellent mix of historical events and fictional adventure. Any initial confusion caused by following multiple characters is quickly dispelled by the regular updates on the date and location of each section of the story. These regular reminders of the dates keep the story ticking along and building nicely towards the key events of the period without feeling rushed. Low clearly depicts how the struggle for the Scottish crown is more than just battles against the hated English, there are numerous plots, murders and betrayals within the Scottish and English factions. What is abundantly clear is that all the leading powerful nobles and Kings are only chasing their own interests, using the lesser lords and servants as pawns in the game for the Scottish throne. This makes for a story which is engaging and enjoyable from the outset as we follow characters such as Hal and Dog Boy who are thrust into a world which is not of their own choosing in service of their King or lord.
Low weaves an elegant tale providing an in-depth story line demonstrating that Scotland was not a single united nation behind William Wallace or Robert the Bruce, leaving the reader with a clear understanding of how different the people are within the various regions of Scotland. The historical context of the story is interesting while the fiction and adventure provides that sparkle to keep you entertained. Culminating in the battle of Bannockburn which is presented by Low as a stunning collection of viewpoints from both the high and mighty and the lowly common solider or farm hand given a spear and told to fight. It provides a page turning thriller showing the horror and devastation of battle experienced by all.
The characters are much more than the standard Hollywood depictions of the heroes and villains of the period. You do connect with some more than others, however their motivations and what is important to each character could not be clearer. The in-depth descriptions and actions of each character certainly bring the fictional aspects of the story to life.
The historical note and list of characters are excellent reference points to keep the reader informed and clear on who are the key players and of the importance of the events unfolding.
I would recommend this series for the reader who is not only looking for battles and warfare, but also politics, plots and a good sense of adventure to go with it.