Book 1: Hood, Stephen R. Lawhead

A new reign of terror has brought fear and hatred to the land, while an ancient legend stirs in the heart of the wildwood …

The Norman conquest of England is complete – but for one young man the battle has only just begun. When Bran ap Brychan’s father is murdered by Norman soldiers, he flees to London, seeking justice. The journey is long and hard – and the suffering of those he meets along the way fuels his anger. With his demands dismissed, Bran has no choice but to return home, but a worse fate still awaits him there. His lands have been confiscated and his people subjugated by a brutal and corrupt regime.

Should Bran flee for his life or protect his people by surrendering to his father’s murderers? The answer, perhaps, is known only to the Raven King – a creature of myth and magic born of the darkest shadows in the forest.

 

I’ve always been intrigued by the legend of Robin Hood. There’s just something about the whole robbing the rich to feed the poor, and the merry men, and Robin himself (not to mention the love story with Maid Marian), that just always gets to me. My favourite Disney movie still remains Robin Hood (I adore Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid as well, but Robin Hood takes out top billing). I adore the BBC series staring Jonas Armstrong. So when I first came across this book in my uni bookshop a couple of years ago I was very excited. I bought it and the sequel on the spot, and then when the last book in the trilogy was released I bought it as well. But it was only this year that I finally got around to reading them.

I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. Lawhead has taken Robin Hood right back to where he believes the legend actually originated, to Wales in the eleventh century. Of course, all the elements of the Robin Hood legend are still here even if the names and setting have somewhat changed. Bran ap Brychan may have been raised a prince but when his father is killed he soon becomes the outlaw we all know living in the forest. He is still a master archer. And he still has his band of merry men, even if in this version they are no longer so merry.

The major plus for this book is Bran himself and the journey he goes through. He starts off as a somewhat shallow, selfish, roguish bloke who just wants his home and lands back, then wants nothing more than to just run away from the Ffreinc, until finally he slowly becomes the man he was meant to be. Bran realises that he cannot abandon his people and so begins his role as King Raven.

The supporting characters are fun as well, both the good guys and the villains (though the downside is that there is a very large cast of characters, which only gets larger as the trilogy goes on). My favourite was Mérian. She is feisty and independent and sticks to her principles, which are all things I love in my female characters. I found her story, in which she is forced to deal with the Ffreinc nobles despite her reluctance and her anger at them, to be just as interesting (perhaps even more so at times) as Bran’s. Plus I loved the relationship between Bran and Mérian, even though at this point there’s very little to it. I think this could’ve been heightened a bit more throughout the whole novel, as opposed to the tiny tidbits we get, but I get that that isn’t the point of the novel. That’s just my shipper heart constantly wanting more shippery things to be happening, lol.

Overall, I really enjoyed Hood. Granted, it’s probably not for everyone, but I expect most Robin Hood fans would find this retelling of the old tale enjoyable. I certainly did. But then again, I am a Robin Hood fanatic, so who knows? 😉

 

Check out Stephen R. Lawhead’s website or follow him on Twitter: @StephenLawhead. And you can also like him on Facebook.

You can check out Hood on Goodreads, or you can order it from Booktopia or Amazon.

 

Books left: 149

Days left: 568

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2 Comments

  1. hm this sounds interesting, but I’m not a huge Robin Hood fan, so I’m wondering if I’d still enjoy it. Is this a long book? It’s fantasy, so I’m assuming yes…

    Reply
    • My copy is about 440 pages, and from memory all three books are a similar length. It’s not your typical Robin Hood story, so you might still enjoy it even if your not a fan of the legend. (It’s times like these – okay, actually all the time – that I wish we lived in the same city, so we could just share our books.)

      Reply

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