Okay, I seem to have fallen down on the job here. I thought for sure I posted a review of Hood, the first book in the King Raven trilogy, but I must not have. So I guess I have a lot of ground to cover, especially since I finished reading Scarlet, the second book in that trilogy, late last night.
I am not normally a Stephen Lawhead fan. I bought copies of Dream Thief and the Dragon King Trilogy about ten years ago. I disliked the former and thought the latter was simply okay. Then about five years ago, while Jill and I were vacationing in Australia, I grabbed a copy of Patrick in an airport bookstore, read it, and left it Down Under. I didn't care for Lawhead's departures from what we know about the real St. Patrick, nor did I appreciate his sympaethetic portrayal of Pelagius.
So you can imagine my reluctance to try the King Raven trilogy, even after I read some glowing reviews for it. But when I saw Hood in a bargain bin at my local Christian bookstore, I decided to give it a try.
I'm glad I did. Hood and Scarlet have gone a long way towards rehabilitating my opinion of Lawhead. I still question some of his theology, such as the blending of druids with Christianity, but he tells a riveting tale. He resets the Robin Hood stories in eleventh century Wales, making Robin Hood not an English hero, but a Welsh freedom fighter, one called Rhi Bran y Hud, or "King Raven the Enchanter." And he does so with a great deal of wit and excitement.
Scarlet continues the story, focusing on poor ol' William Scatlocke (or Will Scarlet, as he prefers to be called). He's turned out of his home by the Norman invaders and so he sets out to find the outlaw Rhi Bran. After joining Rhi Bran's Grellon, or flock, he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy against the English crown. Can Will survive, especially after he's captured and sentenced to hang?
Lawhead's voice, especially when he tells us Will's story, is superb. He truly puts us in Will's head and you get a definite feel for his cadence and rhythm. Sadly, the voice falters a bit when we get out of Will's head. There was one scene where it seemed like Lawhead was popping in and out of different points of view with little or no warning.
But it's still a great book and definitely worth the read. Personally, I'm looking forward to Tuck, the final book in the trilogy. Past that, we'll just have to wait and see.