If you have endurance, plan to expend it now for this first book in a trilogy, concerning the 13th-14th century Scots liberator Robert the Bruce, is a long tiresome campaign. Although the chronology and military/political details are solid in outline at least, the essential core -- what made Robert run to England as well as advance to Wallace -- is missing. To be sure the author does have explanations -- Bruce's acceptance of land from Edward I was a pragmatic move toward eventual opposition; and his determination to fight for the homeland came well before Wallace's major successes. However, the Bruce here is merely a compendium of heroic gestures and speeches, reflecting the generally peculiar approximation of period speech -- dogged inversions (""What matters it?"") or begirt with archaic forms (""Belike he does not know. . .""). The events range from Robert the Bruce's early peacekeeping on behalf of Edward (in opposition to the forces supporting Balliol) through support of Wallace and co-guardianship with John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch, to his securing of the empty throne of Scotland and defeat at the hands of Pembroke. An overly simplistic view of a leader who so obviously knew in the early years on which side his Scone was buttered.