Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead
Book 1 in The King Raven trilogy
Paperback, 512 pages
April 8, 2008
Genre: Historical/Fantasy Fiction
Source: Personal Collection
“For centuries, the legend of Robin Hood and his band of thieves has captivated the imagination. Now the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting.
Hunted like an animal by Norman invaders, Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne Elfael, has abandoned his father's kingdom and fled to the greenwood. There, in the primeval forest of the Welsh borders, danger surrounds him—for this woodland is a living, breathing entity with mysterious powers and secrets, and Bran must find a way to make it his own if he is to survive.
Like the forest itself, Hood is deep, dark, and at times savagely brutal—yet full of enchantment and hope. Internationally-acclaimed author Stephen R. Lawhead has created a lyrical rendering of a time-honored story that will lead you down strange pathways into another time and place.”I cannot get enough of various tales of Robin Hood and his faithful gang. Every author puts their own spin on the story and Lawhead is no different. Lawhead takes the gang from the forests of Sherwood to Wales in the end of the 11th century and puts us in the middle of the tensions between the Welsh and the Franks.
As much as I have always loved Hood tales sent during the reign of Richard II this setting felt more organic and I grew to love it. In taking advantage of this unique setting, the names of our heroes and villains have changed. While you have to think a little more to figure out who is who their attributes and actions will make the connections for you. All of Lawhead’s characters are well developed and he adds his own personality traits to those of our favorite characters.
One thing that was added into this book that I was extremely grateful for was a pronunciation guide for the Welsh words. I found myself referring to this reference time and time again. He also provides a great historical/author note explaining why he made the choice of setting that he did. His reasoning made a lot of sense to me and has led me to think maybe the story of Robin Hood evolved from a much earlier culture.
This story was not without its problems though, despite the interesting setting. The beginning and the end of the story moved quickly and I found myself engrossed in the story and the pages flying by. However, the middle was much more of a quagmire for me. There is very little action in this section compared to both the beginning and end – this is due to a lot of character growth and development in Bran. While this development was extremely important to the decisions Bran makes in the last 150 pages, I found myself having to put the book down after only a few pages because it was so boring. Once you get through this section the story take back off again.
I really enjoyed the time period the story was set in as well as the history that goes along with it. I have not had too much exposure to this time period. The characters were great and overall a good story with the feel of traditional Robin Hood tales. I am looking forward to reading more by this author and finishing the trilogy.
Stephen R. Lawhead also has written books 2 and 3 in The King Raven trilogy Scarlet and Tuck as well as many other historical/fantasy fiction books. You can visit Lawhead’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this excerpt of the book?
3.5 out of 5 stars.
Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court