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The Forest Laird - A Tale of William Wallace
by Jack Whyte
Forge, $15.99, 483pp
Release Date: November 27, 2012
“Scots wha hae wi’ Wallace Bled…”

Here is historical fiction at its best; a blend of research and imagination, written by a man whose boyhood was colored by the legend of brave Wallace, even as the world was rapidly eradicating almost every last vestige of the Scotland Wallace knew: its forests, wild spaces, old ways and customs. Whyte recreates some of that lost world as he depicts the first part of the life of William Wallace, called the Guardian of Scotland, as told by his cousin Jamie, who both admires and envies his cousin, but comes to pity him for all he loses.

The tragic conflict between greed, arrogance, ignorance, and high-handed tyranny on the one hand and the lives of ordinary –sometimes extraordinary - men and women on the other, is compellingly told, with carefully correct details of history. As Edward, King of England, seeks to illegally annex Scotland by deploying soldiers, merchants, thieves and priests to this end throughout the north, Wallace rallies opposition and resistance, declaring for Scotland ’s King John. At the same time it is a love story, for Mirren is the love of William’s life, as if the entire country of Scotland had been personified in her.

So many stories told nowadays turn of the theme of revenge. This is one of the real ones; this really happened: William Wallace tried first to prevent horrors, then to avenge them. And he came so close….

I cannot imagine that this book would be popular in England , however well it is received elsewhere, but I wish it would be. If, as it sometimes seems, England were under a curse of governmental mismanagement, maybe some atonement for past transgressions would do both countries real and lasting good. So I wish, and hope. ~~ Chris R. Paige

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