Week 28–Hood

It’s shameful how long it’s taking me to read books these days.  I blame Leo and all the time and attention I’ve been lavishing upon him.  It’s just so hard to put him aside and spend time with a book instead 🙂

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1595543295&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrHood by Stephen Lawhead was an impressive work of fiction.  First off, let me just say that I adore Robin Hood. I always have. He was my hero when I was little, and I wished I could run off with his band of merry men and live in the forest and shoot a bow and rob people.  In fact, I still kind of wish that.  This book is the first in the King Raven Trilogy, which tells the story of Bran, heir to the kingdom of Elfael in what is now known as Wales. When his father is killed and his kingdom overrun with Norman usurpers, he escapes death by fleeing into the primeval forests the border his kingdom. From there he wages guerrilla warfare on the Normans passing through his lands, first to earn enough gold to buy back his kingdom, and eventually for revenge.

The novel bounces around a lot between several different characters and settings, which gets confusing at times.  But it keeps the reader attentive and involved. Of course, the parts that don’t involve Bran and his antics in the forest aren’t nearly as much fun as those that do.  However, the development of Merian, Tuck, and Iwan as main players is vital to the story, and no part of the novel was painful to read.  It’s also a far cry from the most well-known versions of Robin Hood.  At first, this bothered me a great deal.  After all, Robin Hood is my hero. I don’t like it when people mess with him. Why fix what’s not broken?  But this version is stuffed to the brim with mythology, so in my eyes, Lawhead more than made up for the amendments to the beloved story.  In fact, his little historical blurb at the end clinched the entire novel for me. I guess I didn’t realize that the Welsh were such badasses.

Allow me to address the mythology a bit more. I’ve heard and read references to Bran the raven before, but never investigated the story further.  In this novel, Bran steps into the role of a legendary hero–another Bran who is cursed by a crone to remain in the shape of a raven until he fulfills his vow to marry her.  Because they share a name, his path seems predestined.  So our own protagonist assumes the guise of a giant bird, with the ability to appear and disappear at will, and a shriek that sends seasoned knights fleeing in the opposite direction. With the aid of ingenious stunts and pyrotechnics, Bran manages to create a reputation of his own as a phantom whose mention strikes fear into the heart of any local power-holders.  At times, I forgot that this was Robin Hood I was reading about. The term “loosely based” definitely applies here.  But that wasn’t a bad thing.

As far as adventures go, it most definitely dragged in places. I felt that it mostly consisted of set-up with patches of action interspersed throughout. That said, I enjoyed reading it a great deal (especially since the other book I’m reading is Catch-22, which I hate), and would recommend it to several groups:

–Those who love historical fiction
–Those who love Robin Hood
–Those who love to see old stories revamped

Thanks for reading! Ex libris

Courtney

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