Harper Trophy, 1998
In 14th-century Scotland, sixteen-year-old Martin Crawford spies Robert the Bruce being hunted by the English. That day marks the start of Crawford’s involvement in the fight for Scottish independence from the English, but he’s not a warrior. Martin’s wish is to be a cleric, and his involvement is as an observer, spy, and message bearer for the king. His mobility allows him to be privy to the king’s strategic decisions as well as see the battles from a distance.
The King’s Swift Rider provides a good background to long-ago events. Though this account is strongly biased toward the Scots, I enjoyed learning more about this period in history and about the famous British and Scottish leaders involved. The contrast in attitudes between Martin, a pacifist who is nonetheless deeply, and nonviolently, involved in the war, and his brother, a sometimes blood-crazed warrior, deepened the interest in the story for me. This is not a story that either glorifies or wholly condemns war or violence.
This book will appeal to readers who enjoy action, history, and books about war and strategy. The details about medieval life will appeal to fantasy enthusiasts as well as Live Action Role Players (LARP). The main character is sixteen, but I think this book will appeal to upper middle grade readers as well as young adult readers.
I checked this book out of my local library.