Book 9: Scarlet, Stephen R. Lawhead

After losing everything he owns, forester Will Scarlet embarks on a search for none other than King Raven, whose exploits have already become legendary. After fulfilling his quest—and proving himself a skilled and loyal companion—Will joins the heroic archer and his men.

Now, however, Will is in prison for a crime he did not commit. His sentence is death by hanging—unless he delivers King Raven and his band of cohorts.

That, of course, he will never do.

Wales is slowly falling under the control of the invading Normans, and King William the Red has given his ruthless barons control of the land. In desperation, the people turn to King Raven and his men for justice and survival in the face of the ever-growing onslaught.

From deep in the forest they form a daring plan for deliverance, knowing that failure means death for them all.

Scarlet continues Stephen R. Lawhead’s riveting saga that began with the novel Hood, which relocated the legend of Robin Hood to the Welsh countryside and its dark forests.


Okay so I’m going to start out with the things that threw me off about this book (and there were a few of them). First off was the changing perspective. Some of the time Will Scarlet is narrating this story in first-person, in the present time while he is sitting in prison. But then it will switch to third person as we slowly learn the lead up to Will’s imprisonment. And then next thing, the reader is back in Will’s head again. I just, I didn’t like the continual shifting between first and third person, all it did was annoy me.

The next thing that disappointed me was the lack of Bran/Mérian. Let’s be honest here, I like to ship couples and I like to read about the couples I ship. Add to that the fact that Robin Hood and Maid Marian are one of my favourite fictional couples, and then mix in the small tidbits that we received in the first book Hood hinting towards a relationship to grow, and you have me expecting to see a bit more in terms of the development of Bran and Mérian’s relationship. To be fair, this book is called Scarlet for a reason – this is Will’s story. But again, I still would have liked to see some actual development here, rather than, once again, just the small hints that we got.

However, on the whole I did enjoy Scarlet. I liked hearing the new perspective from Will (even if I would have preferred to have the whole novel in third person), who isn’t one of the displaced Welsh of Elfael. Will had previously been working on an English estate before the Normans took over, so we get to see how the Norman invasion affected everyone, not just the Welsh whose land was slowly being taken away from them. I liked hearing about Will’s past, and I liked watching his growing feelings for Noin.

Lawhead’s writing continues to be strong and evocative. I loved reading all the scenes in the forest because you can almost feel the old world magic seeping out of the ancient trees. I also loved the more in-depth look we got at the camp life, all the intricacies there – seriously the hidden ladders and bridges that Bran’s men use to move around the tree tops is all kinds of brilliant. 😀

If you liked Hood, then you’ll definitely enjoy Scarlet (though you may take a little while to adjust yourself to the different style that it’s written in).


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 Scarlet on Goodreads, or you can order it from Booktopia or Amazon.

You can also read my review of Hood, the first book in the King Raven trilogy, here.


Books left: 141

Days left: 408

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