Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Book Review: Hood

Title Hood (King Raven Trilogy, Book 1)
Author Stephen R. Lawhead
Genre Science Fiction
Category Historical Fantasy
Rating A

Summary The legend of Robin Hood gets transported to the land of Wales (the likely origin of the legend) in the King Raven series. Hood, book one, tells of how Bran (the prince of Wales) loses his father and goes on the run from the invading Normans who have seized control of England (and are beginning their push into Wales). We meet up with "Little John," "Friar Tuck," and Maid Merian and the stage is set for an uprising the likes of which the French and English have never seen.

First Line "The pig was young and wary, a yearling boar timidly testing the wind for strange scents as it ventured out into the honey-coloured light of a fast-fading day. Bran ap Brychan, Prince of Elfael, had spent the entire day stalking the greenwood for a suitable prize, and he meant to have this one."

Review I had heard a lot about this book recently, it was popping up on blogs left and right, and a co-worker leant me the first book (thereby reducing any excuses I had to not reading it), so I read it. And it was good. This isn't normally the type of book I'd read--I've only read one other mythology/historical fiction trilogy (Ted Dekker's Black, Red, and White series) and kept seeing similarities to that.

Most of my issues with the book, slow pacing at the beginning, a ridiculous number of characters that I struggled with keeping straight because their names were not familiar and/or they had a titles from the monarchy/feudal system that were hard for me to remember who was who, etc., were all problems that stemmed from my not reading enough in this genre. I think people who routinely read this type of literature would love this book.

Taking the book on face value, apart from any genre-related issues that were personal to me, this was a really good book. The story was freshened up, which avoided it being too boring to read, the characters were lively, good dialogue, rich setting. Everything you'd need for a good book. I think people who are more Celtic fanatics than me might have a better review of this book--I just feel so out of my element here--but it seemed good to me. For what that's worth.

My only drawback was that the protagonist was overly wishy-washy. Sure, it made sense for him to be wishy-washy at the beginning--he's a reluctant heir to the throne--but still on page 450? He had made a decision to be the king of his people, but when something goes wrong he wants to turn tail again and run to the north. I didn't buy that. By the end (25 pages later) he's suddenly a king full of strength and resolve. The back and forth didn't really work in this sense--it was supposed to create tension (I think) right at the climax, but just hurt the protagonist.

My co-worker has since loaned me the second book in the trilogy, Scarlet, and I'll be reading that very soon. So, if you like this kind of book (or you're willing to step out on a limb), I recommend this series, you're not too likely to be disappointed. For what that's worth.


Holly said...

I loved this trilogy. I think Tuck, the third one, is the best.

Carrie K. said...

I think I'll give this one a try- thanks for the review.