"The Forest Laird" by Jack Whyte is up to his usual high standard of writing. This man knows exactly how to keep the reader's attention from the get-go. He's got you from the 'Author's Note' in the beginning through the 'Prologue' ... which I usually skip when reading a novel. But I know better when it comes to Jack Whyte, I know there is much information in these forecasts at the beginning.
This novel is 782 pages ... right up there with the Ken Follett novels that I love so much. As a matter of fact, there is a similarity in style between the two writers. And they both love to write historical fiction, set in the early A.D. centuries in Britain, primarily.
The way Jack writes his characters you feel you know them inside and out. Ken Kollett does it too in his 'Pillars of the Earth' and 'World without End' - my two favorites of his.
In 'The Forest Laird' the story of William Wallace, Scotland's heroic figure (who was depicted in the film 'Braveheart' written by Randall Wallace), begins with Wallace's tragic childhood and continues with his early education with the monks. At age 18 he leaves the custody of the church and becomes a forester on his uncle's lands. And then his life as we know it began. It all began with a young woman.
Jack Whyte does not glorify or canonize Wallace, he tells a story of how it must have been in reality, from an idealistic and ambitious young man-child to a rampaging, violent, crusader. Just as in his King Arthur series - telling the 'real' story as close as his research would allow.
I'll add more to this as I read the novel. Just wanted to begin the journey tonight . . .
Excerpt: "The water was frigid, but the rushing coldness of it against my heated body was intense enough to dull the worst of the searing pain in my backside. I gritted my eight-year-old teeth and grimly set about washing away the evidence of my shame and the sin I had endured. I could hear Will splashing close by, and hear his muttered curses, for he ever had a blazing, blistering way with words. When I could feel that my legs and buttocks were clean again, I did a brave thing. I knelt in the stream, bending forward to splash water over my face and head and scrub at both until I felt they too must be clean."