First impressions of The Forest Laird

     I have been intrigued by Jack Whyte’s writing since I read The Sky Stone, one of my favourite novelizations of Arthurian legend. I loved the way he turned the magical story into historical fiction. Because of my love for that book I jumped at the chance to hear Whyte speak in Kamloops recently.

     I  took the Greyhound (which I hate due to many eventful trips and pretty consistently terrible service) and it was well worth it because he is a very charming speaker. I admit part of it is that I was mesmerized by the Scottish accent (I’ve had a thing for Scotts ever since I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon) but mostly I found his humble discussion of the roots of his book fascinating. He talked about how William Wallace became a popular figure after Brave Heart came out, and some of the things scholars discovered about him once there was enough interest to warrant a look at the artifacts. He talked about where he got his ideas for the novel and what it is about.

Anyhow my shiny autographed copy has been calling for me, so while I am supposed to be reading a YA historical fiction for teen night I’m cheating and reading an adult historical fiction….

Whyte read from the prologue at Chapters, so reading it I heard Jamie (the narrator) as having Whyte’s voice.  The prologue is powerful, and draws me in excited for the story, but afraid to get attached to William, because of course I know how it must end.

The first chapter is more horrifying than I anticipate. I was ready for a little violence, but not the slaughter of a child and certainly not the bloody rape of young boys. This is going to be an intense read, difficult because it’s events are terrible in a way that could be true, but amazing because I love a book where I get emotionally invested in a character or cause and I can see that I will have both of these in no time.

Now I come to why I stopped reading and came to the computer, I want to share a quote of a young boy’s first impressions of a library.

“This, I knew instinctively, was a place of wonders, and incalculable value, of power and mysticism, of great learning and knowledge, and of immense worth, inestimable beauty, and abiding peace and tranquility-grand words, I know, for a small boy, who knew none of them at the time and nothing at all about libraries.”

I love this description. As a librarian I hope that a lot of people get this feeling. To be honest I don’t get it as much in contemporary looking libraries. Don’t get me wrong I love trendy teen rooms, celebrity READ posters, kids books everywhere… BUT I’ve only felt this sort of awe Whyte is describing when in the Library of Parliament, The Supreme Court Library, and other very old-school libraries.

Are there teens who prefer the more formal, leather-bound, quiet, hardwood and marble libraries? Personally I wish I could have both, one where we go for serious, quiet reading, and another space where we are able to throw theme parties and tutor and be loud. I need both out of a library! What do you think?

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