the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘Stephen Lawhead’ Category

 Scarlet (King Raven book 2) by Stephen Lawhead

Published in 2007

Where I got it: purchased a few years ago

Why I read it: enjoyed the first book in the series, Hood.

Stephen Lawhead writes only two kinds of books: very good and excellent.  Hood  was the former, Scarlet the latter.  
Scarlet is the second book in Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy, his take on the Robin Hood legend. Only this time, “Robin Hood” is Rhi Bran y Hud, also known as Bran ap Brychan, also known as King Raven, a prince of Wales who has lost his father and his land to William the Red and his cronies.   Scarlet is not a stand alone, you really must read the first book in the series, Hood (reviewed here) first.

After the slowish Hood, I was happily surprised at how fast of a read Scarlet was.  It helps that we already know most of the characters and where we are, we’ve already met Bran and Iwan and Merian and Tuck and Angharad and the rest of the downtrodden Welshmen who make their way in the forest.  Will Scarlet is the only new character, and we meet him right away, as he is languishing in prison waiting to be hung for a crime he didn’t commit.

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Hood, Book 1 of the King Raven Trilogy, by Stephen Lawhead

published in 2007

where I got it: purchased new

why I read it:  Have enjoyed previous Stephen Lawhead titles.

It was over a thousand years ago that William the Conqueror decided England was his by divine right. Not long after 1066 he turned his gaze further west, to Wales. With every head on a pike and every new church built, the Normans believed they were bringing freedom and civilization, while the Welsh felt they were already free and civilized.

What happens to a story after a thousand years? Is there any way to know how it really began?

Hood, the first book in the King Raven trilogy, is Stephen Lawhead’s fictional account of how a most famous myth got started. Maybe it didn’t start in Sherwood, maybe it’s main character never went to the crusades. Maybe it all started in a beautiful, wooded, green country called Wales, where the people simply wanted to remain free.

Bran ap Brychan never wanted to be King of Elfael. His father is abusive, stubborn, and short sighted, and Bran would rather court the beautiful Merian than grow up to be anything like his father. When King Brychan is betrayed and murdered, all Bran wants to do is run. If a new Ffreinc (what the Britons call the Normans) king has come from across the narrow sea, proclaiming divine right to the lands, who is Bran to question God?

Honor and honesty is fine, but in this new era of divine kings, money rules. Bran sets out from Elfael with Iwan and the itinerant priest Aethelfrith to gain the King’s justice for King Brychan’s death. Iwan can’t pronounce the priest’s Saxon name, and likewise, Aethelfrith can’t quite pronounce the British sounding Iwan. Father Aethelfrith takes to calling Iwan Little John as a joke on his height, and Iwan insists on calling his new friend Friar Tuck, as a joke on his girth. Anything sounding familiar yet?
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This review originally appeared on Worm’s Sci Fi Haven. It’s a book I read and reviewed a few years ago, see the bottom of the entry for some later notes on this series.

This book was supposed to be an escape. It was supposed to have nothing to do with science fiction, or fantasy, and I wasn’t planning to write a review of it. But before I knew it, I was sucked into the story, impatiently trying to get to the next page, hoping no harm would come to anyone I cared about. This isn’t science fiction, and if you think fantasy has to involve magic or elves, then this wouldn’t qualify as fantasy either.

From reading Byzantium, and the Pendragon Cycle (King Authur & Merlin), I know Lawhead to be a superb history fiction/mythic fantasy writer. He leaves no stone unturned in his quest to bring the myths of human history to life. The Paradise War is no different.

The story starts in a most unexpected way – with two graduate students at Oxford. Lewis, an American, is thankful for every pound of grant and scholarship money he can get to keep himself in his studies, and Simon, who is at Oxford because that’s what rich British boys do before living off their families fortunes. Through an odd course of events, Lewis and Simon find themselves at a gateway during the times inbetween times. Falling through the gateway, they end up in the archetypal Celtic mythic world: Albion.

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FTC Stuff

some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.