The Spider and the Stone

Written by Glen Craney
Review by John H. Manhold

Glen Craney’s novel is set in the familiar turbulent period of Scotland’s attempts to escape English rule. Similar to other descriptions of this chaotic period, facts are sketchy, but the author, to quote others “When history and tradition are not in agreement… the historians [usually] are deceived,” has made this his credo and woven an interesting tale proposing that the crowning of Robert the Bruce occurred largely because of the help and sacrifice of James, Scotland’s Black Douglas and the love of his life, Isabelle MacDuff.

The book is an interesting, well-crafted scenario presenting Scotland’s basic problems as: egomaniacal clans’ thought and action patterns, deceit/treachery in abundance, gullibility of or failure to post guards, inability to act appropriately in dangerous and/or possibly advantageous situations, and finally, similar to other descriptions, the unstable, psychologically disturbed character of the various prospective kings. The importance of Jamie’s fealty and sacrifices along with the spider legend obviously make the story, and an interesting inclusion is the rumored aid provided by the Knights Templar.