Renegade is the second book of Robyn’s Insurrection Trilogy.
We find Robert Bruce in Ireland after resigning the Guardianship of Scotland. He is a traitor to the English crown and has betrayed his friends and fellow Knights of the Dragon. He is searching for the last mythical treasure of Britain, The Staff of Jesus. If he can find it before the English he believes he can use it as a bargaining tool in his dealing with Edward I but European politics intervene and threaten to place his old enemy John Balliol back on the throne of Scotland.
If this happens Bruce knows he will lose everything, so he has to make a tough decision. To survive, he has to turn his back on everything he holds dear and betray his friends and allies by entering the camp of Scotland’s greatest enemy. As Scotland desperately fights for its life against the invading English, Bruce must bide his time and survive the suspicions of the English and the enmity of his follow Scots in his bid for the throne of Scotland.
I have to admit that I didn’t know a lot about this period of history and as a diehard Englishman, Bruce isn’t one of my favourite people but Robyn has woven a excellent story and it held my attention from page one.
One of the great strengths of this book is the great list of characters. It is quite hard to admire many of the men from this period, they were obsessed with their estates and wealth and would sacrifice their ideals and oaths to preserve them but Young’s Edward I is majestic and terrifying in equal measure. The rebel leader William Wallace is a man of honour and a devil on the battlefield and even Bruce, the breaker of oaths is written with great sympathy. The supporting cast of scheming Earls, Royal princesses, ambitious knights and meddling churchman all bring extra depth to the story.
This is a story of ambition, betrayal, intrigue and war and Young brings to life the uncertainty of the time. The nobles are desperately trying to choose the right side and to increase their lands, peasants are just trying to survive the marauding armies ravaging the land and the King is trying to assert his believed rightful place as King of Britain. Bruce is ultimately betraying two kings in his quest for the throne. In stopping Balliol from returning, to trying to thwart Edward’s bid for the crown he is walking a fine line that could end either with the crown of Scotland or the headsman’s block.
I have always enjoyed Robyn’s books, her Brethren series was excellent but this Insurrection trilogy in my opinion is a step up in her writing. The books has a great pace and she weaves together the different strands of the story so that it flows and is easy to read and in Bruce she has a great character who I look forward to seeing attempt to take the Throne of Scotland.