The Path of the King

Cover image for


Author: John Buchan
Published: 1921
Language: English
Wordcount: 85,166 / 236 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 83.6
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 1,880 1283

We wonder that so great a man as Abraham Lincoln should spring from humble people — but who knows what his more distant ancestry might have been?

In a series of dramatic chapters, Mr. Buchan tells what he imagines to have been the ancestry of Lincoln. The worthy son of a northern chieftain who had come down with his people into Normandy; a Norman knight who fought under Duke William and settled in England; a French knight, emissary of Saint Louis to Kubla Khan; a proud demoiselle, friend to Jeanne d'Arc; a French gentleman who went with Columbus on his second voyage; an avenger of Saint Bartholomew's Day; a friend to Sir Walter Raleigh; a supporter of Cromwell; a soldier of fortune under Marlborough; a mighty hunter in Virginia—all these, says Mr. Buchan, were Lincoln's forebears. Their blood ran in his veins and made him, in James Russell Lowell's phrase, "the last of the kings."

Show Excerpt

the sanctuary of bed. That took all the fortitude in Biorn's heart, and not till the thing was dared and done could he go happily to sleep.

One night Leif the Outborn watched him at his game. Sometimes the man was permitted to sleep there when he had been making sport for the housecarles.

"Behold an image of life!" he had said in his queer outland speech. "We pass from darkness to darkness with but an instant of light between. You are born for high deeds, princeling. Many would venture from the dark to the light, but it takes a stout breast to voyage into the farther dark."

And Biorn's small heart swelled, for he detected praise, though he did not know what Leif meant.

In the long winter the sun never topped Sunfell, and when the gales blew and the snow drifted there were lights in the hall the day long. In Biorn's first recollection the winters were spent by his mother's side, while she and her maids spun the wool of the last clipping. She was a fair woman out of the Western Isles, all brown and


Average Rating of 5 from 1 reviews: *****
J C G Greig

This is a book for young and old and especially for the historically minded to dwell on and even drool over. (G M Trevelyan the historian was a case in point!) The First World War had reinforced Buchan's knowledge of France and interest in the New World, and especially in Abraham Lincoln. Buchan had been fascinated from early days with 'The road the King of Errin goes' in foklore, and used the idea of the 'King's path' in an earlier work on Sir Walter Raleigh. In this post- First World War novel Buchan presents Lincoln's courageous Presidency in the American Civil War (he was a minority Republican President in his first term and was assassinated in his second) as nothing less than kingly, at first sight a paradox in a non-monarchical country like the USA.

The Path of the King offers a tapestry of historical episodes, from the Vikings through centuries of Norman and French, Flemish, English, Scottish and American social, economic and political life. Famous events such as the massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve, the adventures of Daniel Boone and much else provide the backcloth for the men and women who successively have, however diluted, the blood of kingliness in them (we might now say they had the right genes). The subtly-linked individual stories are used to suggest that kingliness may be dormant or fitful over several generations, but will finally reappear in someone, like Lincoln.

All the leading characters are presented as descended from a young Viking prince whose death among the Franks as a defeated Northman is implied in the first episode. That princeling's golden torque is the symbol of his royal status, but we find it remodelled as a ring, ultimately resurfacing in America only to be lost by young Abe Lincoln when he uses it to catch a fish in a 'crick' (creek or stream). But its loss is of no account, for when kingliness in fact reappears in Lincoln the man there is no need for it.

The fascination of this unusual book grows on the reader gradually. Little clues should be looked for constantly, in order to grasp the consistency of the tale. And the choice of Lincoln, very much the offspring of ordinary folks, proclaims for those with eyes to see that kingliness is not dependent on outward trappings but on inward riches. 'Though nature is wasteful of material things, there is no waste of spirit, as the Prologue suggests.

J C G Greig

(Promote your book here)

Featured Books

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook


True Alpha 1
Alisa Woods

Shifters in Seattle – Desired (True Alpha 1) Ne... Read more

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook

Open Minds

Mindjack Saga Book 1
Susan Kaye Quinn

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a danger... Read more

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook

Rise of The Iron Eagle

The Iron Eagle Series Book 1
Roy A. Teel Jr.

Is The Iron Eagle a psychotic serial killer?Read more

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook

XGeneration 1

You Don't Know Me (XGeneration Series)
Brad Magnarella

In the fall of 1984, Cold War tensions between... Read more

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook

Drive, Ride, Repeat

The Mostly-True Account of a Cross-Country Car and Bicycle Adventure
Al Macy

Author Al Macy is a character and a tightwad wi... Read more

Cover image for The Path of the King by John Buchan - Free eBook

I Bring the Fire

Part I: Wolves (A Loki Story)
C. Gockel

In the middle of America, Amy Lewis is on her way... Read more

login | register

User ID


reset password

Help ManyBooks by sharing this page!

See it as donating a moment of your social media time, every little thing helps us improve and stay online.

Popular in This Genre

The list of books below is based on the weekly downloads by our users regardless of eReader device or file format.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle
by Théophile Gautier
The Arabian Nights
by Andrew Lang
The Secret Adversary
by Agatha Christie
The ''Genius''
by Theodore Dreiser
Moby Dick
by Herman Melville
War and Peace
by Leo Tolstoy
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Awakening
by Leo Nikoleyevich Tolstoy

See more popular titles from this genre.