Rebel King, Hammer of the Scots
Book One, A Novel
Hardback: ISBN 0-9721674-0-4
Paperback: ISBN 0-9721674-1-2
Written by: Charles Randolph Bruce & Carolyn Hale Bruce
For those of you
who enjoy Scottish novels, particularly historical ones, this is a great
book to settle down with in front of a fire on a cold, rainy, winter’s
night. Get yourself a glass of wine, a wee dram, or a cup of cappuccino to
warm your soul. The book will, too! Other than Sir Walter Scott and Nigel
Tranter, I normally do not make a habit of reading historical novels, and
already you have a heads-up as to what I think about this book. I must
confess that I was a little slow getting around to reading it. After all,
it is a 407-page book! I take my reading time very personally. I do not
casually read a book; I devour it like a leg of lamb or a beer-can chicken
from my oft used backyard grill. Rebel King, Hammer of the Scots
was no exception. I actually found myself eagerly returning to the book
until the last page was read. When I had finished the book, I wished there
had been more than the 407 pages. We’ll get back to this aspect later in
Reviewed by: Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Atlanta, GA, USA
Mel Gay, also known as Beth’s husband, introduced me to
an interesting man at our Clan Chattan tent last October during the Stone
Mountain Highland Games. Charles Randolph Bruce wanted to chat about his
book. He spoke passionately and eloquently about what he and his wife,
Carolyn, had written concerning "the chronicles of Robert de Brus, King of
Scots". In a letter from Mr. Bruce, he described the book as "a fast-paced
telling of the Scottish Wars of Independence, beginning only months after
the unjustly and horribly meted out death of Sir William Wallace, subject
of the Mel Gibson movie Braveheart." While this is a story informed
Scots are familiar with, there are many others who have carelessly passed
it by over the years. Both groups would do well to spend time with this
book - the former to refresh their memories and stir their hearts once
again, with the latter learning what they have put off far too long.
Randolph and Carolyn Bruce have written a wonderful book worthy of the
Scottish communities’ attention. Thanks, Mel!
Mr. Bruce informed me that the book "started out to be
a ‘family’ story that grew into a ‘Scotland’ story". From my perspective,
this is a book for anyone who enjoys an exciting and jam-packed book of
suspense and intrigue. Simply put, it is an exciting, well-written novel.
I’m glad I read the book, and I firmly believe if you read the first
chapter, you will read the entire book like I did. It ends with the death
of "the Hammer of the Scots", Edward I. We learn the story will continue
with a sequel or two. Knowing this action filled account of the heroic
Robert de Brus will continue is, to me, the best part.
Professionally, Randolph and Carolyn Bruce are
both commercial artists, an added bonus for all readers. Their book is
graced with artistic talent at the beginning of each chapter where you
will find pencil drawings of the main characters - a very nice touch.
Personally, the authors are parents and grandparents like so many of
us. But, unlike so many of us, they have portrayed the beautiful story of
Scotland’s quest for freedom in words and drawings. The good news for this
modern man is that the ancient story will continue as this talented
husband and wife team weaves their magic formula again – hopefully in the
A CHAT WITH RANDOLPH AND CAROLYN BRUCEBy: Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot,
Atlanta, GA 30327-1862, USA <email:
Q: Do you mind telling our readers what
type work you both do? Give us a brief note about your family and
A: (Carolyn) Both of us come from professional
backgrounds of advertising, copywriting, and commercial art and
illustration. In fact, we met while working in the same art department at
a now-defunct printing company many years ago.
Our separate families migrated into the mountains of
western Virginia around the time of the Revolutionary War, if not before.
Both of us have Scottish ancestry with surnames like Bruce, Agnew, Fraser,
Dunn, Thompson, Ingram, Preston, and others.
Q: Randolph, how and why did you and
Carolyn decide to write a book, an historical novel, about Robert de Brus,
at this stage in your lives?
A: (Randolph) Oh, it started way before Carolyn and I
met. I was about four or five years old when my grandfather first told me
that I was descended from Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland. It meant
little at the time, but I always sort of thought of myself as being part
of King Robert’s family.
Fast forward to about ten years ago. Carolyn and I were
in the library, and I happened upon a book about Scotland that included
the story of The Bruce in a very condensed form. Inspired, I thought it
would make a great movie, and in a short time, I had written a screenplay.
After a fruitless quest to attract attention for the idea in Hollywood, I
threw the manuscript in a drawer. Along came Braveheart and
its short shrift of poor ol’ Robert and Scottish history (for instance,
Edward II’s wife was but a child in France when The Wallace was
rampaging). For years, I’d look at my unsold script and growl a lot.
Then in 1999, I was on a trip and put a tape from Nigel
Tranter’s "Bruce" trilogy into the dashboard player and settled back to
listen as I drove. Tranter was a well-known author and authority on things
Scottish. But, listening to the tape I found myself growing angry - this
was not the Robert de Bruce that I knew from my research and knowledge of
my stubborn Scottish ancestors! I decided then that I would take my
research and write the story of the Scottish hero as I saw him.
Q: I understand that the two of you wrote
this book even though there were unusual circumstances about where each of
you lived. Would you care to explain?
A: (Carolyn) We actually reside in Virginia Beach,
Virginia, but have lived 250 miles apart for the past five years. My mom
is elderly and though she does very well, is not able to stay by herself
for long periods of time. So, when Randy had written a couple of chapters
on this novel, he sent them by email for me to read. I thought they were
great, offered to "edit" for him, and he accepted. Well, I not only edited
by added my two cents’ worth. I sent them back to him, he liked what I had
done and, before long, we were writing the book jointly…though still
apart! But that’s how the book, all 407 pages, actually got written.
Q: Word on the street is that this book
might be considered movie material. Any truth to that at this time that
you care to tell us about?
A: (Randolph) We would love to see our novel on the
screen, and a number of our readers have long thought that our book would
make a terrific movie. We are working on several possibilities, but at
present, we haven’t anything concrete. So if anybody wants to make us a
serious offer, negotiations are still open.
Q: Do you plan sequels to Hammer of the
Scots, and if so, how many?
A: At present, we plan to complete a tetralogy. The
second of the four, now in its early stages, is "working" titled,
Rebel King, Winter Blood. We hope to have it out in late summer of
this year. The third volume will tell the story of The Bruce through the
Battle of Bannockburn, and the fourth, the Irish Campaign. There is
occasionally talk about a fifth volume, but we haven’t made that decision,
Q: What is the best way to purchase this
book since you have created a new publishing company to print and market
your book? Who should an interested party contact to buy it?
A: Hammer of the Scots is available
through many Scottish clans and societies, and from our website:
It is also in several independent bookstores, and we are working on
getting it into the national chains. Just ask for it at your favorite
bookstore; if they don’t yet have it in stock, they should have it before
long, or they can special order it for you. (Writer’s note: go to the top
of this article for the ISBN number to take to your bookstore.)
Q: Thank you for your cooperation in this "chat"
interview. Is there anything else you would like to say to our readers?
A: We appreciate the opportunity you have given us to
present our book to your readers. We have given much attention to
historical facts, though sometimes Scotsmen may differ on what those facts
are. Some of the story takes Scottish lore into account, and some minor
things and characters are made up to move along the story. But we have
tried to be true to the Scottish people and the way we think they would
have managed during this heroic, horrible, inspiring period of our
history. We have great hopes for the series, and its success all depends
on whether or not people read our book. ‘Tis a great story. Read it!
review and a story by the author here!