Review: Hood

TITLE: Hood (King Raven Trilogy #1)
AUTHOR: Stephen R. Lawhead
PUBLICATION: 2006 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
FORMAT: Paperback


Bran ap Brychan finds his world ripped from its foundation as invaders topple his father’s kingdom and send the young prince fleeing into the forest. Although he has lost everything except his life, deep in the forest the King Raven will rise to claim what is his…


I had heard of these books from a source I can no longer recall, but I found the first two books marked down at half price in one of my favorite bookstores and felt the whim to purchase them for reading at my pleasure. I plan on getting the final book in the trilogy from the library.

I do like Robin Hood stories. My favorite films are the animated Disney classic and the Ridley Scott film, but I find my experience with books has been less than satisfactory. The last book I read was Lady of the Forest and I didn’t care for it much at all, although I think I might have liked the character of Will Scarlet just a bit. Hood gives the legend a fresh perspective and I find it to be a nice change of pace. Characters we thought we knew so well have been recast in a new mold and it is interesting to see how they become like the heroes (and villains) that we’ve known over the centuries.

It was pretty easy to get swept up in this narrative at times. It’s descriptive but not bogged down by details and I think that readers will appreciate. It contained detailed action scenes, but I confess that my eyes have a tendency to glaze over during descriptive battle scenes so I would be unable to relate how these skirmishes were fought. It rather reminded me of Bernard Cornwell.

The characters are most interesting. The novel is narrated in third person, but we get focus on several of the key players in this conflict of Wales after the Normans have invaded. Bran doesn’t begin as a noble heroic type because he’s rather a selfish and hot-tempered brat who flits around in pursuit of seducing the fair sex. There is definitely room for character development to go on and it does, yet I think I’d like to see more of it. Or at least see the preparations that went into creating the King Raven that hides Bran’s identity. In this respect I can see Bran resembling more of the Scarlet Pimpernel than Robin Hood. Merian appears as a conflicted young woman who despises the invaders and yet is drawn to their elegant and refined lifestyles. This clashes drastically with the harsh treatment that Bran and his people suffer at their hands.

Oooh, I think I like this version of the cover!

The real question that you are asking yourself now is whether or not it is worth a read. I think that it is worth taking the time to read if you like these kind of retellings, or just a heroic adventure in general. I did like reading the book, but I didn’t love it. Therefore I think it is safe to say that I more than likely won’t read it again even though I enjoyed it. So I would recommend checking it out from the library if you are interested in a fresh take on an old story. And in that respect I will now be moving on to Scarlet, the second book in the trilogy.



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