The King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead is an amazing Robin Hood retelling. It sets the story of Robin Hood against the backdrop of medieval England and a Norman invasion. It uses the wild setting and Celtic mythology to build the legend of King Raven, a Robin Hood-esque figure who some people swear is half-Raven.
In Hood, the first of the series, Bran ap Brychan is stripped of his land and his titles. He’s on the run from the invaders who’ve stolen his home and killed his father. A man who never wanted to be a king or a lord, he slowly comes to the realization that he must fight for his homeland. Along the way, he meets and recruits others who will aid him in fighting the church and the invaders of his homeland.
In Scarlet, the book focuses mainly on Will Scarlet, who has joined King Raven and his men in fighting back. However, his aid to the band has landed him in jail, sentenced to death unless he betrays Bran and the others. He refuses, and the novel tells his story as well as continues the story set up in Hood.
The story comes to its fierce conclusion in Tuck, where the people rally to aid in the rebellion. Tuck, who has been there throughout all of the trilogy, really comes into his own here, helping to organize the rebellion.
I will admit the first book of this trilogy sat on my shelves for a very long time until I randomly picked it up and started it. It truly is an origin story at first, and it slowly grows into the legend that will become Robin Hood (or King Raven in this case). Bran finds his way with the help of really well-drawn supporting characters, including Tuck, Will Scarlet, and of course, Marian. He also finds a mentor who teaches him the ways of his land’s mythology and faith, where he finds his guide for everything that will come. The battle that extends across the whole trilogy is a story of new vs. old, including invaders, faith, and friends. It’s an epic adventure. It’s a love story (or many). It will inspire you, infuriate you, make you cry, and make you laugh. Stephen Lawhead has written a very special retelling of Robin Hood. I loved it.
Recommend: Yes! Especially for fans of Robin Hood, this new imagining is spectacular.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars