By: Bo Macreery
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Publication Date: April 2009
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: November 2009
Wattie sat listening to his Aunt Jenny and grandmother prattle on about Robert the Bruce and his efforts to win Scottish independence from England. It was a lot for a small boy to absorb, but it was “his grandfather’s story” and he had to listen. Little did he know that he would one day relay this warrior’s story to the world and his own grandson, Hugh Littlejohn (John Hugh Lockhart). He would write his own history of Scotland, telling of King Robert in “Tales of a Grandfather” and in his poem, “Lord of the Isles.” Wattie, Wattie “...we do not kill spiders. Not in this house.” He was going to have to listen to these women and listen very carefully. He would become a seanachaidh.
Robert’s grandfather, the Competitor, was angry with his young teenaged namesake. He was supposed to have dispatched a pesky fox instead of playing games with his brother. When he was told the job was as good as done, he was stunned because “catching a fox without use of hound or horse” was simply “unthinkable.” Edward Plantagenet later said that “the Bruces [were] not fit for Kingship,” but he had not counted on the likes of this Bruce. A knight, yes. A king, no. Robert was of “Celtic and Norman royal lineage” and once he started his move to create his own legacy and retain that of his grandfather there would be no stopping him. Scotland would be free of its English rule and he would be king.
Robert’s wife was imprisoned. His entire family had been taken by the English. It was now time that he took everything back. “Three years of warring. Three years of hiding. Of sleepless nights on rocks in caves...the fear. The toil. The guilt.” It was time. They were outnumbered ten to one. He was a master strategist and his boyhood skills now came into play. It was Tor Wood and he gathered his men about him to ask questions and prepare for battle. How many men? Who was in the lead? Where were the archers? So many questions. He rode boldly into the field alone, a king readying his troops for battle. Would they be slaughtered or would they win one of the biggest battles ever to be waged during the middle ages?
This book is an amazing tale of the Battle of Bannochburn and King Robert the Bruce’s battle for Scottish independence from King Edward II (Edward of Carnarvon). Bo Macreery’s knowledge of English and Scottish history will simply bowl the reader over, but the sheer number of historical characters will confuse the uninitiated. I did have some trouble at first trying to sort everyone out, but the simple “Cast of Characters” in the front was a help. I was very interested in the occasional mention of the Knights Templar, Sir Tolcenal and Sir William Sinclair, a mention that adds a bit more mystery to the tale. The occasional fast forward flash to Sir Walter Scott and his family proved to be an occasional refreshing break in the tale, although an infrequent and tenuous part of the story. I did however, love the link it provided in Scottish history. I found myself wondering what the connection was to spiders. Once you figure it out, you’re going to be WOWED!
Quill says: If you want a big dose of history and a little bit of mystery...well, you’ve come to the right place!
For more information on Why We Don’t Kill Spiders, please visit the publisher's website at: Outskirts Press.