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I have read a half dozen of Henty's (seventy or more) books. They are formula works that cast an admirable youth into the caldron of historical conflicts. Henty's purpose is to tell morally uplifting tales of perseverance and honor while teaching otherwise accurate history for the audience of young adults. This book is the best I have read both of Henty's work and of Scotland under the Hammer. Think Kipling's book Kim, set in Scotland, where Kim winds up a mighty warrior and then a wealthy lord. Be sure to read Henty's work next to a computer where you can pop up maps of the various unfamiliar locals of the story. This book covers Scotland's resistance to the reign of Edward I of England. From the Scottish perspective Edward I, the greatest of the Plantagenets, the creator of the nation of England, the Hammer of Scotland was not a nice person. The greatness of this Edward is undeniable. He created the empire that came to rule the world. The cruelty of Edward is beyond the imagining of most modern minds. He really did hang Wallace for a while, then take the still living man down and have him disemboweled, then cut into four pieces and sent to the four largest cities in Scotland. Five pieces actually, he kept the head and put it on a pike outside the gate of some castle. A Scottish noble's wife who aided in the crowning of Bruce was then suspended alive in a cage over the gate of another castle...for years. And that was standard treatment for resistance to Edward's plans. Henty covers this history through the life of a young man who serves the fabulous Wallace and the unwilling nationalist hero Bruce. And through it all, as in all Henty's books, the young hero remains good of heart, powerful of arm, and loyal to all he loves. How is that for a refreshing twist in historical fiction? As historical fiction goes...this one is right up there.
If you enjoyed Braveheart then this story gives you the full history & then some.
It was written in the 19th century & thus the language is a bit stilted but notwithstanding it is an enjoyable book. The action scenes are well described & entertaining as well as informative. These guys had some serious stones to go up against the English like they did & Henty does a great job of capturing the era!
If the language is too difficult for you & you'd like something from a more modern author then try J.R. Tomlin's 2 book series. It's easier to read & although it's been fleshed out with more fictional characters (to make the action a bit better) the history still rings true.
Old need NOT mean boring. Think of Henty's style as "Jane Austen meets Kipling." This book chronicles not only the life and times of William "Braveheart" Wallace, but also Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, as seen through the eyes of a fictional hero. Well researched, the history buff will also enjoy this novel of derring-do. Of course, Henty wrote in the convention of his day, but this only makes the book more quaint. His love interest is present, but gentlemanly written, much as Sir Walter Scott handled the lovers in "Ivanhoe." It is slow going at first, but once the main character (Sir Archibald Forbes)is introduced, the book comes alive. I suggest one google a map of Scotland to see exactly WHERE all this takes place, as the book well and truly covers a lot of years and territory. ENJOY.
This has been a favorite of mine well over a decade. While not a profound or particularly self reflecting work, it is probably the best example of Henty's formula. Henty also does his best to accurately translate the history in spite of his own blood being on the other side of the conflict. The strength, determination and perseverance shown by a handful of landless men against the might of England over the course of decades is documented here, and should capture the imagination of every reader.
I am a great fan of historical fiction. While the background is not fiction, it has the benefit of reading with the ease of a novel as it follows the adventures of the fictitious Sir Archie Forbes as he teams with the real William Wallace. For those with an interest in these rather formative years of Scottish history, this is well worth the read.
Henty's books should be required reading in every school, public or private! Stories are well-written, historical fiction....kids love these books! So well-written that adults even enjoy them. Easy way to teach history.