Mad King Robin
by James Vella-Bardon
Tearaway Press

"Yet all Scots declared that they would conquer or die."

Succession disputes in fourteenth-century Scotland eventually lead to Robert the Bruce ascending to a contentious and dangerous reign. His crowning leads the English king to seize on the opportunity to invade Scotland and impose his will with a massive army intent on victory and oppression. Robert the Bruce emerges as the Outlaw King, leading his people in the fight for Scottish freedom against a powerful enemy. His bravery and prowess as a military leader and strategist secure his place in history as an underdog icon. This fictional retelling of Mad King Robin facing down the English is a thrilling, timeless tale of fighting for freedom against unjust aggression.

Well-crafted and compelling, this tale of Scotland’s struggle unfolds with a bold depiction that includes battlefield logistics, nighttime ambushes, memorable duels, and rich historical analysis. Robert the Bruce emerges as a complex hero whose motives are uncertain but whose stunning battle-tested results cannot be denied. Excommunicated for murdering a traitor inside a church, the Outlaw King is pressured on all sides as he follows his own ambitions, desires, and beliefs about power and autonomy. Those around him suffer grave consequences and live in peril as they remain loyal to him or choose to take their chances and betray him in favor of the English.

The story delves into the nuance of choosing sides and allies, taking risks, weighing weaknesses, following blindly, and hoping against all reason for victory. In many ways, this is a story for our times with shocking parallels to current events, which the author discusses in a historical note about Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The life of Robert the Bruce serves up lessons from long ago that still resonate today. Their timeless and universal qualities are captured brilliantly in this novel.

A 2023 Eric Hoffer Book Award Grand Prize Short List book

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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