Thank you for joining me for Rise of a Legend. I have always been fascinated by William Wallace’s tale, and got the idea for this story when I visited Scotland in 2013. Interestingly, there are many unknowns in this stage of history. The poet, Blind Harry, wrote an epic poem about William’s life in the sixteenth century, 150 years after Wallace. It is not clear where he sourced his information, but as history has unfolded, it is clear many of Harry’s musings were conjecture. One of my greatest sources for accuracy was William Wallace by Andrew Fisher. Throughout this series, I referred to Fisher’s work for key benchmarks relating to William’s life. I also referred to On the Trail of William Wallace by David R. Ross for landmarks. Ross’s attempt to piece together the reality of Wallace’s life, is well done, though does not strictly adhere to the facts as Fisher does.
After I was about three-quarters through writing the Rise of a Legend manuscript, I watched the movie Braveheart. I hadn’t seen it in years, and after my research, I wanted to give it another go. Though Braveheart is a wonderfully entertaining film, it lacks in historical accuracy. I do not want to downplay the riveting story of Braveheart, but just say that I attempted to seek more accuracy in Rise of a Legend and its sequel, In the Kingdom’s Name.
Once I’d finished the first draft of Rise of a Legend, I again traveled to Scotland to stand in the places about which I had written. One of the craziest experiences of this trip was when I went to Fail. I wanted to see the monastery foundations, but wasn’t allowed on the property by the owner. He was quite upset that I had arrived with camera in hand, and at first thought I was a police officer or government official. Once I convinced him I was merely an author, he made me leave my camera in the car while he answered a few of my questions. He did tell me that the foundation was still visible, though the wall that I referred to in this book was removed in the 1950’s. He remembered the wall as a child, and said it was as tall as an enormous ash tree to which he pointed.
It was pouring rain when I visited Loudoun Hill. Though most of the surrounding land has been cleared for grazing, I tried to picture the scene forested. As a major pass to the north, in Wallace’s day it would have been thick with trees which made it ideal for an ambush.
The picture on the cover is of a statue of William Wallace that can be found in Stirling on the corner of King and Spittal Streets in front of the Athenaeum building. It was forged in sandstone by Handyside Richie in the 1800’s and funded by William Drummond. The statue is in Grecian style depicting Wallace’s great sword on his back, a ram’s horn in his left hand and his psalter in his right.
Interestingly, nearly all of the castles existing in Wallace’s day have either been completely ruined, partially ruined, or improved so much over the centuries they are hardly recognizable. Nonetheless, if you are a Scottish history zealot like me, I urge you to follow the path of William Wallace. He rose from the common ranks and led a nation when it was embroiled in a time of crisis and tyranny.
Indeed, William Wallace is a man and legend who must never be forgotten.
Rise of a Legend is available for pre-order (release date Nov. 5th) on: