Titles: Hood, Scarlet, Tuck
Author: Stephen R. Lawhead
The Legend Begins Anew
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.
After losing everything he owns, forester Will Scarlet embarks on a search for none other than King Raven, whose exploits have already become legendary. After fulfilling his quest--and proving himself a skilled and loyal companion--Will joins the heroic archer and his men.
Now, however, Will is in prison for a crime he did not commit. His sentence is death by hanging--unless he delivers King Raven and his band of cohorts.
That, of course, he will never do.
Wales is slowly falling under the control of the invading Normans, and King William the Red has given his ruthless barons control of the land. In desperation, the people turn to King Raven and his men for justice and survival in the face of the ever-growing onslaught.
From deep in the forest they form a daring plan for deliverance, knowing that failure means death for them all.
King Raven has brought hope to the oppressed people of Wales--and fear to their Norman overlords. Along the way Friar Tuck has been the stalwart supporter of King Raven--bringing him much-needed guidance, wit, and faithful companionship.
Deceived by the self-serving King William and hunted by the treacherous Abbot Hugo and Sheriff de Glanville, Rhi Bran is forced to take matters into his own hands as King Raven. Aided by Tuck and his small but determined band of forest-dwelling outlaws, he ignites a rebellion that spreads through the Welsh valleys, forcing the wily monarch to marshal his army and march against little Elfael.
I thought I was pre-reading a young adult series for my son. I was wrong. I can't remember where I purchased this series, but it is listed as general fiction. The action is intense, but there is nothing that made me feel as if I couldn't pass it along to my son afterward.
The language is fantastic and brings to life a Robin Hood unlike any I've ever seen or read about. The author has researched and come up with an entirely new theory not unlike the Roman background the legendary King Arthur has inherited recently.
I thought the setting and characters each came to life magnificently and I was in awe of King Raven as much as any of his Grellon or flock. :o) Their exploits were so daring and fun to read about and yet you were still on the edge of your seat wondering how it would all come about.
If I had one wish it would be for more interaction between the characters. Bran was magnificent on his own, Iwan was a brave and stalwart champion, Tuck was an incredible character ... but the only one who really interacted with all of them and played a major role was Will Scarlet. Even Bran seemed more an isolated hero who stood at the edges of his own kingdom and took center stage when it was time for the spotlight to shine. As a romantic I wish his relationship with Merian had been more of a focus in any or all of the books.
Still, these were some of the most enjoyable reads I've had ~ and that's saying something. :o)