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Sunday, April 17, 2011

The King Raven Trilogy

I read this series of books by Stephen Lawhead about a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an action-packed, fun retelling of the Robin Hood stories. The first in the series is called Hood, the second is Scarlet, and the third book is Tuck; each after the key character in that particular book.
Lawhead has done his homework in researching the stories and songs of Robin Hood that trace back to the middle ages. He says no one knows if the stories were actually true or just folk tales of the day that have lived on in different forms throughout the centuries. He also says there are different opinions as to where in the Britons, the legend originated. Lawhead's Hood comes from the tales of the Welsh which seems very different from the Robin Hood that I've heard of in movies. There are still enough similarities, however, to make it feel like a Robin Hood story. This version is wrapped up in a work of historical fiction steeped in realistic detail that brings the Welsh countryside and people to life.
What you'll get in this series is a small group of desperate heroes, fighting the entire British army to save their family, homes and the Welsh way of life. They use their wits, fight with a new invention called a long bow, and pray to God in order to win. The characters are lovable and brave and there are many lighthearted moments that keep it from getting too suspenseful. The character that fills the role of Robin Hood is actually named Bran. The town folk call him Ri Bran Hood which means something in Welsh. The name doesn't really matter though, because in Bran we have a truly great hero to cheer for.
If you can only read one of the books, I highly recommend Hood. I couldn't put it down when I read it. The other two are good as well and really flesh out the full story of how this rag tag group defeated the English army and held onto their land. Hood is the story of how Bran was thrust into the battle and ended up as a Robin Hood type character that gave the people a hero and the will to fight.
Who's It For? This is definitely a series made for adults, but I see no reason why teens and even advanced younger readers shouldn't read this series. Boys especially will love these books. There's plenty of action and heroes that stand for the right things to cheer for. There are several battle scenes that include descriptions of soldiers being shot with arrows. That's the only thing that some parents may want to watch out for. But, I wouldn't hesitate to have my son read this when he was 12 and up.

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