BookBanter Column: Get Lost in a Good Fantasy Series, Part 3: King Raven

Pretty much everyone is familiar with Robin Hood in some way, whether it’s thanks to the wonderful Disney movie (still my favorite!) or various stories heard as a kid, or the well-known old text by Robert Pyle, or the various movie versions of this enigmatic figure, shrouded in history and intrigue.  We all know the basic story of this unusual hero coming from very little, living out in Sherwood Forest with his band of merry men, robbing from the rich to feed the poor.  But for the most part this story is one of invention and imagination, as there is very little evidence to support this.

Stephen R. Lawhead, bestselling author of many books including his Song of Albion series and his Pendragon Cycle, does something a little different in his King Raven trilogy, pulling from various sources and melding a world of eleventh century turbulent history and Welsh mythology.  It is again very much a what if, but one steeped in research, making it a fascinating read.  It also, perhaps for the first time, puts Robin Hood on an epic stage with these three long and detailed books, giving this mysterious character of history the recognition and respect he deserves.

Hood: There are a couple of “legends” in British history that many people worldwide know about: one of them is King Arthur and the other is Robin Hood.  Arthur has an entire bookshelf of history and fiction written about him, and many of those fiction books profess to be as accurate as the possible truth, even though it is still not fully known if there ever was such a living person.  As for Robin Hood, much of the same story and lore shrouds this figure, and yet the amount written about him is small in comparison.  There are many seminal works that are considered part of the “King Arthur Cannon,” such as Malory’s Morte D’Arthur, Chretien de Troyes romances, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon, Bernard Cornwell’s Warlord Chronicles, and Jack Whyte’s Camulod Chronicles, to name a few.  In fact the author, Stephen R. Lawhead, has even written a series about Merlin and Arthur, known as his Pendragon Cycle.  There have been mediocre to poor TV shows about he who robs from the rich to feed the poor, but there has never really been an equivalent book series or trilogy about Robin Hood of a high caliber; until now.

[CONTINUE READING . . .]