Now I was to highlight the disclaimer the publisher usually put at the beginning of these types of novel, but that in this case is really important: “This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.” The story is indeed about Edward, Prince of Wales and future Edward II King of England, but the author mixed names and dates to fit her story. Edward has indeed a story with Piers Gaveston, but that is in the past, and he is now plotting alone to destitute his own father, Edward I Longshanks. Meanwhile his own wife, Isabella of France, is plotting herself with Mortimer to destitute her husband Edward… now the historical reader will have already found one of the artistic licenses of the author: Edward II was indeed married with Isabella of France, but he did it after his father’s death, and it was his own political bargain and not his father’s decision (like in this story). By the way the story is set in 1283 and it ends with Edward on the throne after his father’s death some months later; during the story William Wallace is more than once used as comparison for Ragnar’s. In reality William Wallace died in 1305 and Edward I died in July 1307, some months before his son Edward II married in 1308. That is what I meant when I said the author stretched the history to fit the story, this is a work of fiction not an historic essay. On the other hand, she did manage to display the Plantagenet kings and princes as they probably were, plotting men who bedded people (men or women) more for strategic alliance than real desires; then maybe, if the bedding was good, the pleasure was a plus, and Edward II probably enjoyed this as much as he enjoyed culture and beauty, another characteristic that is real, at least from historical chronicles, and that the author transposed in her fictional character.
Ragnar Macpherson is not a replica of William Wallace; Wallace was in the end a lord, Ragnar instead is a simple warrior, who has always served another lord. More than the lord himself, he is loyal to Scotland, and so, if the King of Scotland is Robert the Bruce, he will be faithful to him, but I think that, if tomorrow another one will arise in the name of Scotland, Ragnar would follow that one too. And truth be told, Ragnar is a little too “romantic” to be an undefeatable warrior: first of all he falls in love at first sight of two pretty eyes, and then he is easily “distracted” when maybe he should think to more pressing matters. But that is, in the hands of a plotting man like Edward, he has no many hopes.
If I have to be sincere, I don’t like so much Edward; I think he is a little conniving, a lot vain and not so distant from his father’s lot as he thinks. But I think that I would have not probably liked many of those kings, I don’t think romance was first in their minds. So kudos to the author to, even if she stretched the history to her story, she didn’t change so much the character to make him more romance hero like.
Amazon Kindle: Valiant One
Publisher: Ellora's Cave (September 30, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott