Stephen R. Lawhead returns with the second of the King Raven trilogy, after Hood, doing an excellent job of making it feel fresh and new: this tale is told from the viewpoint of someone completely new, Scarlet, who knows little of this “King Raven” character or what he can do to aid him.
The book opens with the framing tale of Scarlet, who is in prison and sentenced to be hanged. In the brief time before his execution, Scarlet tells his story of losing everything and becoming a forester where he meets this King Raven. At first challenged to an archery contest, he reveals his extreme skill, rivaling that of King Raven, better known as Bran, and soon becomes a valuable member of his “merry men.” But Bran needs a skilled warrior like Scarlet to fight back against these Normans steadily taking control of Wales, as William the Red doles out more land to his cutthroat barons. The book comes to its climax as Scarlet must choose whether to be executed, or to give up the secret location of King Raven and his men.
Lawhead continues to spin a great legendary yarn, blending the world of possible historical fiction with Celtic mythology, all with a fresh eye through a new character. He also does a great job of playing on the many fabled stories and clichés everyone knows about Robin Hood, though tweaking them a little to make them all the more entertaining. If you enjoyed Hood like a delicious starter or appetizer, then Scarlet is a tasty main course!
Originally written on March 12, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.
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