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Poacher’s Pilgrimage

by Alastair McIntos.

The islands of the Outer Hebrides are home to some of the most remote and spectacular scenery in the world. They host an astonishing range of mysterious structures -- stone circles, beehive dwellings, holy wells and "temples" from the Celtic era. Over a 12-day pilgrimage, often in appalling conditions, Alastair McIntosh returns to the islands of his childhood and explores the meaning of these places. Traversing moors and mountains, struggling through torrential rivers, he walks from the most southerly tip of Harris to the northerly Butt of Lewis. The book is an expedition through space and time, across a physical landscape and into a spiritual one. As he battled with his own ability to endure some of the toughest terrain in Britain, he met with the healing power of the land and its communities. This is a moving book, a powerful reflection not simply of this extraordinary place and its people, but also of imaginative hope for humankind.

The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends

by Jennifer Westwood and Sophia Kingshill.

Scotland's rich past and varied landscape have inspired an extraordinary array of legends and beliefs, and in The Lore of Scotland, Jennifer Westwood and Sophia Kingshill bring together many of the finest and most intriguing: stories of heroes and bloody feuds; tales of giants, fairies and witches; and accounts of local customs and traditions. Their focus extends right across Scotland: the Borders' haunting ballads, the site of St. Mungo's miracles in Glasgow, the fateful battlefield of Culloden, and, finally, the Shetland Islands, home of the seal people.

More than simply retelling these stories, The Lore of Scotland explores their origins, showing how and when they arose and investigating what basis, if any, they have in historical fact. In the process, the book uncovers the events that inspired Shakespeare's Macbeth, probes the claim that Mary King's Close is the most haunted street in Edinburgh and examines the surprising truth behind the fame of the MacCrimmons, Skye's unsurpassed bagpipers.

The Cone-Gatherers

by Robin Jenkins.

Set during the Second World War, Robin Jenkins' greatest novel is an immensely powerful examination of good and evil, and mankind's propensity for both. First published in 1955, the novel is set on the grounds of a large Scottish country house where two brothers, Neil and Calum, work gathering cones from the forest, which is due to be cut down to help the war effort -- the cones will act as seed when the forest is replanted after the war. When Calum releases two mutilated rabbits from a snare, he comes face to face with Duror, the gamekeeper. In retaliation, in the depths of the wood, Duror lays a trap for the pair. Powerful and unforgettable, Robin Jenkins' masterpiece is a haunting story of love and violence, and an investigation of class-conflict, war and envy.

A Hebridean Alphabet

by Debi Gliori.

This is a beautifully conceived picture book in which Debi Gliori describes and illustrates all kinds of things you might see over the course of a single day in the Hebrides. Inspired by the landscape, seascape, weather, animals and birds, this is not simply an exquisite alphabet book, but also a wonderful celebration of some of the most magnificent scenery in Britain. From the opening line, "Are you awake?" through the day's end, and the final sleeping sounds, "zzzzzz," emanating from the chimney of their cottage, the children of the book encounter all the wonders of this unique part of the world.

subscribe Full reviews of these books are available in the Sping 2017 issue of Scottish Life.

Previously Reviewed Books