The Spider and the Stone:
A Novel of Scotland’s Black Douglas
by Glen Craney
Genre: Historical Fiction
As the 14th century dawns, Scotland’s survival hangs by a spider’s thread. While the clans scrap over their empty throne, the brutal Edward Longshanks of England invades the weakened northern kingdom, scheming to annex it to his powerful realm.
But one frail lad stands in the Plantagenet monarch’s path.
The beleaguered Scots cherish James Douglas as their “Good Sir James.” Yet in England, his slashing raids deep into Yorkshire wreak such terror that he is branded the Black Douglas with a reward placed on his head.
As a boy, James falls in love with the ravishing Isabelle MacDuff, whose clan has long inaugurated Scottish monarchs on the hallowed Stone of Destiny. But James’s world is upturned when he befriends Robert Bruce, a bitter enemy of the MacDuffs. Forced to choose between love and clan loyalty, he and Isabelle must make fateful decisions that will draw the opposing armies to the bloody field of Bannockburn.
Here is the story of Scotland’s War of Independence and the remarkable events that followed the execution of William Wallace, whose legend was portrayed in the movie Braveheart. This thrilling epic leads the reader to the miraculous Stone of Destiny, to the famous Spider in the Cave, to the excommunicated Knights Templar, to the suppressed Culdee Church, and to the Declaration of Arbroath, the stirring oath document that inspired the American Declaration of Independence four hundred years later.
Glen, how did you come up with the title for your book? Does it have any special meaning?
Yes, the Spider and the Stone are two important talismans that appear at crucial points in the Scottish fight for freedom. Unfortunately, if I reveal more, I fear the suspense will be ruined for the reader. But I’ll offer a hint: Never, ever give up in the face of insurmountable odds.
What was the hardest part of this book to write/research?
The most difficult aspect was also the most exciting: Trying to decode the vivid dream that launched me on a detective quest all the way to Scotland. In this dream, I was a mounted knight fighting a black-robed hag armed with a sickle near a stream. Then the scene shifted, and I stood in a victory pose around a seated monarch with six other knights. Below this image, a caption appeared: “Americans aid the King at Bannockburn.” Weeks later, I stepped off the plane in Los Angeles with every chapter in my novel outlined. I could see each scene in the story as if a movie were playing in my mind.
Does your book have any underlying theme, message, or moral?
Several, but one is my belief that this war for freedom in 14th century Scotland paved the way for the American Revolution more than four centuries later. It was not a coincidence that the Declaration of Independence was signed by several founding fathers with Scot heritage.
Give us an excerpted quote from your favorite review of this book:
“It was a marvelous book and I was moved to tears at the long and sad ending. . . . I would read it again for the marvelous prose.”
Where can people learn more about your writing?