Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Stronghold is a fascinating historical novel focusing on the unknown creator of the many “brochs,” or strongholds, built on the islands off Scotland’s northern coast to protect its inhabitants from Roman attacks during the first century b.c. The story centers on eighteen-year-old Coll, a member of the Boar, one of the tribes living on the Orkney Islands.

Almost yearly, the Boar must fend off attacks by Roman slave traders who kidnap or kill members of the tribe. Years before the novel begins, during a Roman attack, Coll was crippled and his mother sacrificed her life to save his younger brother, Bran, who is now being reared by the Druid priests. Now, the Boar are divided over how to deal with the threat of invaders. Nectan, the chief of the Boar, is tired of bloodshed and believes that his tribe should flee to safety instead of fighting the raiders when they come. Domnall, the chief of the Druid priests, is convinced that they should show their bravery and confront the invaders. The conflict between Nectan and Domnall tests the members of the tribe, who are torn between loyalty to their leader and religious superstition. Meanwhile, Coll is developing a plan to build stone towers, strongholds in which the Boar can safely fight off the Romans and that will serve as a compromise for Domnall and Nectan.

The arrival to the island of Taran, who had been kidnapped by the Romans thirteen years earlier,...

(The entire section is 506 words.)