A heroic biography of one of Scotland's legendary leaders, by a British novelist and former literary critic for the London Sunday Times. Scott fashions a biography full of passionate, patriotic verve, willing to suspend disbelief at the more mythic elements of his subject. His work is, however, no replacement for G.W.S. Barrow's monumental Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm (1976, not reviewed). Further, Scott admits heavy borrowing from John Barbour's fairly mythical, near-contemporary (1375) account, The Brus. Nevertheless, the ambiance of the medieval world is effectively presented here, and the contours of Bruce's life (1274-1329) are ably pictured. Not a tall man, Bruce yet was renowned for his great physical strength and for his cunning in battle--qualities that allowed him to lead a small band of followers to a great victory over the forces of Edward II at Bannockburn (Bruce's forces numbered only 30,000; Edward's 100,000). Scott recounts this rousing battle with flair, as he does Bruce's crownings as both King of Scotland and High King of Ireland. There are familiar elements (e.g., the legend of Bruce's lying in a cave watching a spider make six unsuccessful attempts to leap to a wall, only to succeed on a seventh try, thus stirring Bruce to try one last time to defeat Edward) as well as an occasional new twist (Bruce, usually given credit for slaying Red Comyn, is said here only to have lanced him in battle, while a friend went back to finish the job). Fans of Arthurian tales will enjoy this recounting, while historians should be forgiven a knowing smile.