Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Spider And The Stone by Glen Craney

The Spider And The Stone by Glen Craney
Published in America by Brigid's Fire Press in November 2013.

One of my 2018 IndieAthon Reads
One of my 2018 Take Control of Your TBR Pile Challenge reads

Where to buy this book:

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the author

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the 14th century dawns, Scotland's survival hangs by a spider's thread. While the Scot clans scrap over their empty throne, the brutal Edward Longshanks of England invades the weakened northern kingdom, scheming to annex it to his realm. But one frail, dark-skinned lad stands in the Plantagenet monarch's path. The beleaguered Scots cherish and lionize James Douglas as their "Good Sir James." Yet in England, his slashing and elusive raids deep into Yorkshire and Northumbria wreak such havoc and terror that he is branded the Black Douglas with a reward placed on his head for his capture.

As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan for centuries has inaugurated Scottish monarchs on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. His world is upturned when he befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, James and Isabelle make fateful decisions that will draw the opposing armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn. Isabelle will crown a king. James will carry a king's heart. At last, both now take their rightful places with Robert Bruce, Rob Roy, and William Wallace in the pantheon of Scot heroes.

Here is the story of Scotland's War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. This thrilling epic leads us to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, to the famous Spider in the Cave, to the excommunicated Knights Templar, to the suppressed Culdee Church, and to the unprecedented Declaration of Arbroath, the stirring oath document that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later. The Spider and the Stone is the unforgettable saga of the star-crossed love, religious intrigue, and heroic sacrifice that saved Scotland during its time of greatest peril.

The Spider And The Stone covers most of James Douglas' life and provides an interesting narrative of this period of Scottish history. It mainly focuses on Douglas himself, Robert Bruce and Isabelle MacDuff, but also introduces many other famous characters such as William Wallace and the trio of English Plantagenet Kings named Edward. The supporting cast is so numerous that I often found it difficult to keep track of who everyone was, especially when some people only put in brief appearances, but several years apart. Craney has obviously done a lot of research in order to compile this novel. It often reads more as a nonfiction book and I did wonder if the narrative might have benefited from a deeper focus on fewer events which would have allowed the characters to fully develop. I felt I got a good sense of Douglas and Isabelle in the earlier chapters, but this faded as the story progresses and we jump from battle to battle to battle. The story becomes disjointed in the later years and I was frequently irritated by key events happening off the page. I think The Spider And The Stone is a good effort at recounting a complicated period, but for me it didn't really work out.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Glen Craney / Historical fiction / Books from America


  1. I haven't read much about Scottish history!I should! I do;t know if a story that reads as a nonfiction book is for me though :(

    1. Normally I like a good amount of information in a novel, but I felt this one swung too far that way and could benefit from more attention on the fictionalsed aspects