Tuck

Tuck

By: Stephen Lawhead

www.stephenlawhead.com

(Historical Fiction)

Although entitled “Tuck” this final installment of the King Raven trilogy isn’t narrated from the character’s point of view like it was in “Scarlet.”  Where in that novel Will Scatlocke was directly relating his misadventures to the monk/scribe Odo while he was imprisoned, here the story takes place vaguely from Friar Tuck’s perspective and highlights his influence in the conclusion of the conflict that began in the first book of the series.

I always enjoy Bran’s plots and clever disguises.  This character is fearless and gets away with quite a lot, but there is always just the right balance of success and failure.  While one scheme goes to plan flawlessly, something new and unexpected might pop up.  Bran is a quick thinker, and always manages to come up with something even when the situation seems impossible.  I admire that about him and it makes him a good leader.  The conflict between Bran’s band of rebels and the Ffrenc continues to escalate and in the process there are a few casualties.  I have to say I didn’t entirely agree with the author’s choice in the death on one character in particular.  I thought it was just needlessly tragic, despite not being a main character.  I suppose without a few losses, it wouldn’t be sufficiently realistic, but I still didn’t like it.  Casualties and all, I did still liked the ending.  There were a few unexpected twists, although I did guess one of them, so maybe it wasn’t hugely unexpected, but it was enough to keep things interesting.

With the epilogue, the author finally ties the Robin Hood myth to Sherwood forest and wraps up the whole trilogy quite nicely.  It seems I liked these books more than I realized, because now I find I’m a little sad that it’s over.  This series slowly snuck up on me in a way.  When I first started reading it, I didn’t expect too much to be honest, but Bran’s righteous quest and band of wily Welsh rebels really grew on me and I think I’m going to miss them.

 I never expected to like Stephen Lawhead so much, and after looking into his other books I’ve added quite a few to my reading list.  I’m sure it won’t be long before I review another of his books.  Until then…

 Happy Reading!

*** Just for fun…I noticed a flaming typo on pages 80-81 in the hard cover edition, where they repeated an entire paragraph! (giggles)

Scarlet

ScarletScarlet

By: Stephen Lawhead

www.stephenlawhead.com

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