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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rivals for the Crown by Kathleen Givens

Genre: Historical

Pages: 512

Copyright: 2007


Rating 5 Crowns

Hunky heroes?
Political turmoil?
Headstrong, believable heroines?

The first review to kick-off Braveheart week is a fantastic historical novel by Kathleen Givens about fictional characters from both sides of the English/Scottish border from the death of the Maid of Norway to the Scot's glorious victory at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. Givens has written the spirit of the Scottish people into the pages of this book and it is difficult to be unmoved by their struggle for freedom from the English crown. This story is tight with suspense and is filled with passionate characters (fictional and real) whom I guarantee you will barrack for. Although it doesn't centre on William Wallace, he does feature in it and you will see him develop from a spirited young rebel to a man capable of leading an army to victory in battle.

Ultimately, Rivals for the Crown is the love story of two couples - Rory and Isobel, Keiran and Rachel. The dynamic between these four characters is what makes this book so entertaining and the author should be given credit for bravely allowing her Scottish and English characters to fall so desperately in love. She uses four points of view so the tension is always high and you constantly find yourself reading on even though you promised yourself you would put the book down at the end of the chapter. While I was reading this, I had the constant feeling that there was no guarantee of a happily ever after and that feeling propelled me through the book at break-neck speed!

The other aspect of this novel which was brilliant is that even though the author is ultimately telling a love story, she never neglects the larger issues happening in the countries of her characters. Instead, she lets the tension and turmoil of her character's inner worlds mirror the mood of Scotland. She never forgets that the purpose of historical fiction for a reader is to connect emotionally not just with the characters but with history itself. One of my favourite examples of this was when Edward I invited all the Scottish nobles to England to swear fealty to him. I think it really illustrates the will of both countries:

(Edward I) 'Hear this, men of Scotland! You have seen your leaders swear their fealty to me. As will the king we choose at the end of the hearings. As will every Scot swear his loyalty to me by July twenty-seventh. I mean to calm your land. I will do it with your help or without. If you value your lives, your homes and peace, you will do this without violence. And if you oppose...it will still happen.'

There was silence.

'Never!' Gannon shouted, and Rory joined him. 'Never!'

Edward's expression did not change. 'Then pay the price, Highlander. One more or less of you does not change a thing. A score more or less of you changes nothing.' His voice grew louder. 'I will have this! It is my right!'

'Never!' Rory shouted.

(Page 243)

You'll find plenty more historical events depicted in this book including one of my favourites - the Battle of Stirling Bridge. It's a fantastic starting point for those wishing to read about this time period.

Although Rivals for the Crown is a sequel to On A Highland Shore, I believe it can be thoroughly enjoyed as a stand-alone novel also. If you have read OAHS, Margaret and Gannon do feature in the book (they are Rory's parents) and you do get to hear a little of the life they've shared together but I have no doubt that the new characters will steal your heart too.

All in all, a fantastic book! I really do hope that Kathleen Givens is busy writing another now. Please feel free to read our reviews of On a Highland Shore. You can check out the trailer for Rivals for the Crown below:

Princess Signature


Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review Annie! This book is on my TBR.

Annie said...

Thanks Teddy! I really recommend it :-)

The Book Resort said...

Terrific review... as always!

Teddyree said...

I really must re-read this one, I read it at such a traumatic time that it was obviously me not the book that had the problem LOL
Wonderful review btw

Shona said...

Sounds great .. Will put it on my list ..Thanks for the review

Witch Baby said...

Sounds like a good book and this was an excellant review.

Ladybug said...

Sounds like a great book, and I'm very curious about The Maiden of Norway I've never heard of her(and I feel that I should know how she is since I'm Norwegian :)).

Rivals for the Crown and On a highland shore is added to my wish list.

ibeeeg said...

great review. I have just put this on my request list from my library.