I'm not a huge fan of historical fiction. But I am a huge fan of epic fiction, and that is how I would classify this gorgeous trilogy by Stephen Lawhead title the "King Raven Trilogy".
First in the series is "Hood", the story of Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne Elfael. Failing to be on time turns out to be the one character flaw that saves young Bran's life. When his father the king of Elfael (known as Wales) and his warband are slaughtered on their way to Lundein (London), Bran warns the people of his village to flee to hiding.
The Ffreinc (or Normans, now I believe known as the French) have overtaken the land and usurped the throne. Bran takes the sole survivor of the viscious attack, young Iwan, and his confessor (or priest) along with him to Lundein to swear fealty to King William.
But King William is out of country, and the one left in charge in his stead demands a high ransom be paid to free Elfael from Count Falkes de Braose. Defeated, Bran and company (also joined by Friar Tuck--remember him??) return home, only to ambushed and Bran captured.
What ends up following is a familiar yet new retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, known here as merely "Hood" or "King Raven". The story is familiar enough that the reader doesn't get lost, but new enough to feel a bit strange.
There were moments I was tempted to put the book down...all of the strange names and locations were difficult to manage for me. I'm the kind of reader who reads aloud in my head as I read...so words difficult to pronounce bug me. So, I must admit to having skimmed quite a few pages.
But there were enough familiar scenes and people (Friar Tuck, Little John, Maid Merian) to hold my interest until the very last page. And I'm so happy I hung in there, because the ending was so. much. fun! Once I have the entire trilogy in my possession, it will definitely warrant a more thorough reading.
The second novel in this trilogy sits on my to be read shelf, and is titled
"Scarlet". I look forward to reading more about King Raven and what I know to be his band of merry men (although in this telling, that name REALLY does not fit!), and plan on finishing off the trilogy later next year with "Tuck".
I give "Hood" four out of five bookmarks, simply because all of the foreign names and locales tripped me up...but I add a raven's feather as a charm, because the book is loaded with old world charm, and if you're a history buff, you'll go nuts with this one!
To experience a little of the "King Raven Trilogy" for yourself, click on the book image above.
To purchase a copy, click here.