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Rebel by Jack Whyte

a review by Lauren Schroder

Rebel is suitable for adult readership. Children should not be allowed to read it due to the fact that some things are described in the book that are too adult for them to understand and could scare them.

Before the book begins the author discusses his trepidation about writing a series on William Wallace for two reasons.  One: William Wallace seems to be part of the popular imagination about the downtrodden Scottish lad rising against the corrupt English and eventually getting executed with a defiant ‘Freedom’ yell.  Two: because hardly any of William’s Scotland still exists today. The evidence is hard to come by and when you do come by it you have to sift through the mountains of myth to get to a semblance of the truth.

Rebel is written through the eyes of William Wallace’s priestly cousin Jamie Wallace. It starts with the execution of Wallace and then goes back in time to tell the story of how William Wallace became the scourge of Edward ‘Longshanks’ Plantagenet and the entire English occupying force in Scotland.

Rebel starts off rather slow however if you persist in reading it you will be rewarded as by about chapter 8 onwards the pace noticeably quickens. The previous, slower chapters are completely necessary for providing the reader with background knowledge of William Wallace however not much of the story takes place.

The idea popularised in Braveheart as the reason for Wallace to initially defy the English is Prima Nocta, the right of the English local noble to sleep with any Scots woman on her wedding night, however this made-up reason for Wallace’s enmity is not once mentioned in the book.

Rebel tells you the real reasons for Wallace’s attacks on English occupying forces. Firstly random English soldiery slaughter his family when he is a boy and use him and his cousin Jamie for brutal sexual acts, then they unfairly accuse him of poaching (a crime punishable by hanging) and outlaw him and…

[Spoilers, Sweetie – Ed]

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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