Seven years in the life of a young boy's service to Robert the Bruce, King of Scots, are chronicled in this enthralling, action-packed historical novel about the trumping of English forces in 13th-century Scotland. Martin Crawford is a clever young man of 16, and his brother Sean nearly 18 when the Bruce enlists them in his fight to win independence. At first, Martin protests; his sympathies lie with the Bruce but he aspires to be a man of the church, therefore he feels he cannot fight and kill. The Bruce accepts Martin as his page, and from there, Martin learns how to contribute to the fight for his homeland without shedding blood, maturing from a wide-eyed youth to a seasoned and astute spy. As the King's swift rider, he acquires bravery, leadership, and loyalty, learning that wits are more important than force in war. Hunter (Day of the Unicorn, 1994, etc.) doesn't gloss over the devastation and savagery of war; the battle scenes are brutal but captivating as the Bruce continually outsmarts and triumphs over armies more than twice the size of his. Readers will devour this powerful, stirring novel in one sitting.