Monday, November 28, 2011

The Honor Due a King and Author Interview

The Honor Due a King is the final bittersweet installment of N Gemini Sasson's The Bruce Trilogy. After defeating England, Scotland is finally free. Robert is now able to be the King he dreamed of being. With his family returned to his side, he begins to rebuild Scotland. But there are problems plaguing Robert that can't be solved on a battlefield. Elizabeth shirks from Robert, and Marjorie is in love with someone other than her betrothed. Will the Scottish Crown ever be rid of its problems?  
As one of Scotland's premier knights, James must obey and serve his king. But what if his heart leads him in other directions?After losing his love and his will to live, James throws himself into the service of Scotland and her king. But will James ever be free of the soldier's life?
England's peace with Scotland brought no peace for Edward II and his beloved one, Hugh Despenser. The wolves seem to be circling his heels, with the pack being led by the infamous she-wolf, Isabella. As his life unravels, Edward tries to protect not only himself, but Hugh, while bringing revenge on the heads' of his enemies. 

This final book takes the heartbreak and tragedy from books one and two and delivers a haunting conclusion. Though the characters are older and wiser, they are all feeling the effect of their arduous battles. While I loved the maturity of all three narrators, I in particularly fell in love with James. Loyal to the end, he makes a perfect anti-hero.
Within the first few pages of this wonderful book, I was balling. The emotionally charged reunion will bring even the toughest of hearts to tears. Like the first two books, this book is wonderfully written, with descriptive prose and an eye for historical detail. The fever pitch action in book two slows, but the book is still fast paced. I loved not only the book, but the series. I plan on purchasing the last two books in the series in paperback so I can proudly display these books on my shelves! 

And now, here is Gemi, to answer a few questions.

What drew you to Scotland and to Robert in particular? 
When I saw the movie Braveheart in 1995, I knew next to nothing about the period. One thing that struck me is there was so much of Robert the Bruce’s story that hadn’t been told – and deserved to be. He held a legitimate claim to Scotland’s crown, yet for years he served Edward I of England, in hopes of gaining the throne peacefully. At some point, he rebelled and his struggle went on for years. There were so many obstacles to overcome to make Scotland united and independent. I can’t explain it, but I felt that telling his story was something I just had to do. I wanted to learn more, but books weren’t giving me enough, especially when it came to knowing he who was as a man. So I made two different trips to Scotland with friends, just so I could look out over Bannockburn, stand atop the walls of Edinburgh Castle and wander the Highlands. Taking in the rugged and beautiful scenery gave me a better sense of what Robert the Bruce, James Douglas and their contemporaries were fighting for, as well as the challenges that the English faced when trying to conquer that land. 
Was it hard to tell the same story from different few points?
In many ways, I found it easier to capture the scope of the story by using three different viewpoints: Robert, James Douglas and Edward II of England. Originally, I began trying to write the story from just James’ perspective. James was bent on revenge and so he was more than ready to swear his loyalty to Robert. But in a story that eventually spanned more than three decades, that left too many gaps in events. Adding Robert’s voice let me to explore him in even more depth – his ambitions, his fears, his flaws and his ideals – as well as develop the bond between Robert and James.  My initial aim in introducing Edward II’s viewpoint was to give readers more than just a glimpse of his father, Edward I, known to some as Longshanks. Later, I realized Edward II’s life was worth its own story and believe it or not his voice came the easiest to me, because it was so distinct. He had his own personal demons to conquer and throughout it all, he had this pesky rebel king to the north making things ever worse for him. 
Who is your favorite character? 
Oh, asking a writer that is like asking a parent which child is their favorite! To me, Edward is the most psychologically interesting and complex. Robert, being such a far-thinker, makes an exemplary leader and was the perfect person for the circumstances existing in Scotland at the time. Who couldn’t worship him? Ultimately, though, James stole the show for me and I’ve had readers say the same. As fearless and ruthless as he is in battle, he’s soft-spoken and has a shy side, which gets in the way of him getting the girl. In the beginning, revenge is everything to him, but later on he gets a little jaded by the constant battles. He’s vulnerable, devoted and humble – what’s not to love about him.
 Who was the hardest to write? 
 That’s a tough question.  I’m writing a character in another book right now who’s proven to be a real challenge, but the men in The Bruce Trilogy were never so elusive. Their roles and personalities were always very distinct to me. I loved writing each one, for different reasons. Certain chapters were more difficult to write than others, but looking back I can’t recall which ones. It all came together in its own way and time. I do think it was a challenge to find a way of presenting Edward so readers could sympathize with him to some degree. He certainly had his imperfections, but what I tried to do was show how deeply he cared for Piers Gaveston and later Hugh Despenser.  
Your next project? 
Right now I’m working on the sequel to Isabeau, tentatively entitled The King Must Die, about the mysterious death of Edward II and the early reign of his son, Edward III. It has a different flavor to it – more mystery and tragedy with a twist of political intrigue. I’m also nearly done with a 15th century novel about Owain Glyndwr, the last Welsh prince of Wales, who was a bit of a reluctant leader, but who seems to have fashioned himself very much after Robert the Bruce. That novel will be more reminiscent of the Bruce books in scope and tone, part adventure, part love story. 
Thanks so much for having me, Allison! I could ramble on for hours about all these people I’ve lived with in my head for years.

3 comments:

  1. I'm looking forward reading your book about Edward II and Owain Glyndwr. Both sounds good!
    Thanks for the interview!

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