By: Stephen Lawhead

I’d like to apologize first and foremost for not reviewing the first book in the series, Hood, since it’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I will mention a few things about it in reviewing Scarlet.

The first thing I have to say about this book is a big THANK YOU! to Mr. Lawhead for providing an extremely useful pronunciation guide at the front of the book.  In a story with so many Welsh/Celtic names, it’s nice to be able to pronounce them at least somewhat properly in my head rather than butchering them completely.  I absolutely hate it when I can’t figure out how to say a name, and I find it makes it more difficult to remember the character.

This series, starting with Hood, is a more historically realistic retelling of Robin Hood, or Rhi Bran Hud, as he is called in this story, which translates to King Raven the Enchanter.  This telling is set in Wales in a forest known as the March, rather than Sherwood Forest.  Merian, Friar Tuck, and Little John are represented, if not with those exact names.

Now, onto the story.  I was a little surprised at first how this story focuses on the trials and tribulations of one Will Scarlet and his association with Bran who we met in the first book.  I was expecting this story to be a continuation of Bran’s story, but I really liked this different point of view.  We are introduced to Will, in his prison cell, as he relates his tale to a priest while awaiting his execution.  The more he relates the more you really want him to make it out of this alive, even if it seems his fate is sealed.  I found I liked this story a bit more than the first for some reason.  Perhaps it had a bit more action.  I thought Hood was a little slower than I anticipated, but I think that comes primarily from comparing it to fantasy novels.  This series is essentially historical fiction with only the slightest touch of the supernatural in the form of Angharad, a bard and adviser to Bran and his group of refugees.  Since this is not a fantasy novel, there aren’t countless monsters and supernatural challenges to face, only mortal, flesh and blood, people, so that can slow things down just a bit.  That being said, I really liked it.  I like this history and the medieval politics.  The characters are like able, except for the ones not meant to be, and those are as infuriating as possible.  I look forward to the conclusion of the series, Tuck.  Hopefully everything will turn out well for these poor people and Bran will get his land back.  It’s unlikely, but I can hope.

Happy Reading!

The series is as follows: Hood, Scarlet, Tuck

The Dream of Perpetual Motion

The Dream of Perpetual Motion

By: Dexter Palmer

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”…or so the saying goes, but I have to admit I’m usually guilty of doing just that.  The steam-punk feel of this cover is what really drew me to it in the first place.  I’m new the the genre, so I’m in no means an expert, but this book seems to not quite be the usual steam-punk adventure.  I don’t have a problem with this, but if you’re looking for fast paced adventure, you won’t find it here.  The book felt more like a short story to me, rather than a novel, and for a long time I didn’t really think I liked it.

All of the characters are seriously flawed and a little crazy, so it’s difficult to really connect with any of them or care too much about what ultimately happens to them.  The story jumps around and is told largely from the perspective of the main character Harold Winslow, who is trapped on an air ship driven by a perpetual motion machine that seems to be failing.  He tells his tale mainly through a series of flashbacks with other characters occasionally interject their perspectives as well, and you don’t really understand what is going on until the end.  It’s also kind of a downer, so to speak, and not my usual type of reading.  Having said all that, I found that despite all the things I didn’t really like about it, it was so strange that I kept going back to it, trying to figure it out.

The theme of the world created in this book was probably my favorite thing about it.  The idea that the invention and dependence on machines had ruined the glorious “Age of Miracles” that had existed prior; a time when angels were real and walked the earth.  Although, I was a little confused about that.  I couldn’t tell if he meant that that world had indeed existed just like that, or if it was something that people had invented in their own imaginations, in an effort to cope with the bleakness of their current lives.

Ultimately, I’d have to say this was not one of my favorite books, but I’m glad I read it.  It’s always good to read a little out of one’s comfort zone.  My time was certainly not wasted.

Happy Reading! 🙂