Friday, August 01, 2008

Hood - Stephen Lawhead

Rating : 4.0/5
Number of Pages : 438
Number in Series : #1 King Raven
Reason for Reading : TBR Challenge 08, First in a Series Challenge

A look at the legend of Robin Hood but set in Wales with Robin renamed Bran ap Brychan. The story takes place around AD 1093 when William the Red is King of England (the son of William the Conquerer from Normandy). Bran's father, the King of Elfael, and his warband are murdered by Norman soldiers (the Ffreinc) and his lands taken over by William de Braose who sets his nephew Count Falkes de Braose in charge of Elfael. Bran is the rightful heir and goes to Lundein to try to win back his land. There he is charged with raising 200 silver pieces, an almost impossible sum, to get back land thatis rightfully his.

On returning to Elfael Bran and his two companions are stopped by the Ffreinc and Bran is captured. Count Falkes releases him to fetch his own ransom and when he fails to reappear sends soldiers and knights to kill him. Thinking him dead they return without his body to the Count without knowing that he is still alive (barely). An old woman finds him and nurses him back to health and he begins to bring together the people who escaped the Ffreinc and are living in the surrounding woodland. Bran hopes to steal the 200 pieces of silver, reclaim his land and drive away the Ffreinc once and for all.

We meet well known characters like Little John, Friar Tuck, Merian and Guy of Gisbourne. Welsh mythology and tales of Bran from the Mabinogian are woven into the tale and the villians also include the Baron de Neufmarche (another Norman). At the end of the tale is a section on why Lawhead chose to set the tale in Wales which made for very interesting reading and he argues a strong case. A great tale with the usual ingredients of love, deceit, battle, magic and the struggle of the poor to drive out the invading force. I will definitely be reading the sequel Scarlet and am waiting for book three Tuck to be released.


Ladytink_534 said...

I've loved Robin Hood movies for as long as I can remember so one of my first chapter books was the book and I cried at the end. This sounds like it might be able to rival the original!

Unknown said...

Hmm, sounds very interesting. I used to have a thing for Robin Hood books but its been a while since I've read one. I'll have to add this to the tbr list.

Marg said...

I could be convinced that I need to read a Robin Hood story. I've added this one to my list.

Ana S. said...

Robin Hood and Welsh mythology? I have to read this one! Plus I've been meaning to try Stephen Lawhead anyway..

Kim L said...

I have really enjoyed some of Stephen Lawhead's books in the past, and I was sorely let down by Robin McKinley's rather boring take on the tale, so this one really intrigues me. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it because that usually means I will too!

Alice said...

This one sounds very good. I know who to go look for when I need a good dose of fantasy. :D

Clare said...

This sounds brilliant just up my street! Thanks for the review and will go and hunt it down :-)