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Number of Pages: 288
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
Dimensions: 8 X 5.37 (inches)
Series: Scottish Crown
English LadyUK,Age: 25-34Gender: Female1 Stars Out Of 5Poor historically questionable story,January 16, 2013English LadyUK,Age: 25-34Gender: FemaleMany people have heaped praise upon this series for the quality of the writing style and the author's 'bringing history to life', but I personally do not share such sentiments. It should probably be noted that this was in fact the third novel in the series which I read (though it is the first chronologically) and so I was already quite familiar with the writing style, characterization and to some extent the approach to history used by the author.
As romance novels go, they are passable, and on some levels enjoyable, but I would say not nearly as excellent as some fans have claimed. It seemed to me that they were all rather followed more or less the same formula that a hurting man/woman with issues falls for good-looking girl/guy (usually also with issues) who they can't stand at first, and end up falling hopelessly in love. This often results in a change of the political affiliations of the protagonists at least one of whom usually begins on England's side but Ã¢â¬Ësees the light' before the end of the book, realises how evil the English are, but righteous the cause of Scotland is and switches sides.
In this novel the Ã¢â¬Ëhurting woman' is Gwyneth Comyn, a relative of the John Comyn was murdered by none other than Robert Bruce in a church (the author follows the official line that Comyn was an evil traitor and puppet of England who betrayed and provoked Bruce of course). She is separated from her family and her betrothed after the murder, and forced to live incognito, gets raped by the bad guy and is forced into marriage to the hero Adam Mackintosh who just happens to be a close personal friend of Robert Bruce and of course does not know the true identity of his bride.
To cut a long story short, Adam and Gywneth must overcome lots of obstacles and difficulties before the course of their love can run smoothly, the bad guy does lots of nasty things and keeps trying to kill the hero, Gwyn gets persuaded to change sides by her cousin and the War with England begins in earnest.
This formulaic nature of the storyline could make it appear repetitive and predictable, the villains are almost always one-dimensional, and have to go around doing really bad things like rape, murder, or killing children to emphasise how bad they are- yet their actions very often have little or no motivation they just seem to do what they do because they're bad.
It is doubtful that the author's depiction of English and Scottish characters in based on personal first-hand knowledge and so there is a lot of stereotyping. The English characters all speak with ridiculous high-class accents (like in Braveheart and other Hollywood movies) though there are not many of them in this first novel. Many of the Scottish men wear kilts (likely several centuries too early), speak with exaggerated versions of Lowland accents (or Gaelic) but the French that was widely spoken by both the English and Scottish aristocracy of the period is almost entirely absent.
I would strongly advise readers against 'learning' their history of the period from these novels as some claim to have done, for the reasons highlighted in the 'history' section below.
Christianity/Morality As mentioned above, the main female protagonist gets raped towards the beginning of the book, and the man who raped her also attacks other women, but this is not described graphically. A secondary female character who is known for being promiscuous makes advances towards the hero Adam a couple of times, but he does not succumb.
As is also mentioned Robert Bruce murders John Comyn in a church at the beginning of the novel, and other acts of violence take place, or are alluded too, though none of it is very graphic.
Historical It was the historical aspects of this novel and series which were most problematic for me, some of which I think arise from personal bias on the part of the author against the English.
As a result of this, there are whole passages devoted to high-minded self-righteous ranting about the immoral, dishonourable and generally horrible actions of the evil English (some of which are so poorly executed that the author has to highlight the events and state Ã¢â¬ËThis is really bad, dishonourable or unchivalrous' in case the audience did not realise before). This causes problems of its own, however, as the Scottish characters still have remain the Ã¢â¬Ëgood guys' even when they do the same things which they and the author condemns and demonize the English for so there is much hypocrisy and double standards in the characters and author's attitudes and responses to certain actions.
Secondly, the author's apparent need to have the protagonists Ã¢â¬Ësupport the right' and change sides from Scotland to England because they realise how evil one side is in comparison with the justice and rightness of the cause of the other causes her to have characters representing certain families and switch their allegiance to Robert Bruce who never did so in reality, and were opposed or hostile to him in reality.
These include the Comyns who were not, even though the novel makes some mention of Gywneth's relatives having been killed, but ultimately has she and a surviving cousin going over to Bruce's side. In reality the Comyns almost certainly never changed sides, were dispossessed and had their lands decimated by Bruce, and John Comyn's son fought on the side of England at Bannockburn.
The other problems are that the author fails to grasp the complexities of Medieval Power politics as the background of events, and so often ascribes high moral purposes to actions that were really just self-serving, and oversimplifies the conflicts of the time to have the Ã¢â¬Ërighteous' downtrodden Scots (or Ã¢â¬ËCelts') struggling against the malignant evil of the brutal English imperialists.
Hence, the author seems to effectively try and blame the English for the war in Scotland raging in the early part of Bruce's reign, and the strife between Bruce and Comyn. However, the actual and far more significant root cause of this conflict was the shape of a succession crisis predating the English invasion. This lead to civil war in Scotland in which the Bruce and Comyn/Balliol families represented rival claims to the throne, and for which one could not be victorious until it had destroyed. Such long terms realities are largely ignored however, and the English blamed for pretty much all the ill that befalls Scotland.
Gloria Rosser5 Stars Out Of 5May 21, 2010Gloria RosserThis is by far the best christian book series I have read! I can't recomend it enough!
Ashley5 Stars Out Of 5January 12, 2010AshleyI can't even begin to say how much I enjoyed this book! It is by far the best book I have ever read. I especially love this era and Carol Umberger did a great job! I can't wait to read the next one!
Shirley5 Stars Out Of 5December 12, 2008ShirleyMy sister and I read this book together and absolutely love it! The story is very romantic, inspiring, and intriguing. We still talk together about the characters and our favorite parts of the story. Adam Mackintosh is a wonderful and honorable character who treats Gwenyth with such tenderness and respect. And nothing is quite like riding around in the Scottish Highlands, your allegiance pledged to Robert the Bruce! My sister and I had great fun doing our Scottish accents. I was drawn into this book from the start and read the whole series.
Bobbi4 Stars Out Of 5December 2, 2007BobbiI really enjoyed the first three books that I have read of Carol Umberger's Scott Crown series. It was hard to take a break once I started them. Love the history and faith in God that runs through all the books.
Author: Carol Umberger
Located in: Colorado Springs, CO
Submitted: April 13, 2002
Tell us a little about yourself. I have been writing for about six years and Circle of Honor is my first published novel. I met my husband when we were both on active duty in the Air Force and we've been married nearly 22 years. We have two teenage boys who are Eagle Scouts and play ice hockey for their high school.
What was your motivation behind this project? I love medieval history and Celtic culture and I enjoy stories about realistic people who struggle with their faith. When I read about Scotland's great king, Robert the Bruce, I knew I wanted to write a fictional story about Scotland's War of Independence. Circle is the first of three books set in this fascinating time period.
Who are your influences, sources of inspiration or favorite authors / artists? I am an avid reader of many genres--David Baldacci and John Grisham, Mary Jo Putney, LaVerle Spencer. My favorite Christian authors are Dee Henderson and Linda Windsor. I love to read a well written story with characters I can relate to. And the best collection of stories I've found and my greatest source of inspiration is the Bible--the older I get the more amazed I am by the incredible wisdom to be found there.