Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead

First off, I have to say that I'm addicted to this trilogy. I've always had a thing for Robin Hood and this version just blew me away. Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead is the second book in the King Raven Trilogy. The Premise of the story is that Bran ap Brychan has been more or less exiled from Elfael - his rightful land. He's taken to the forest where his loyal followers are eking out a living while Bran and his men wreak havoc on the Ffreinc invaders.

In this book we're introduced to William Scatlocke - Will Scarlet. He is the main focus of the story, where Bran was the focus of Hood. When the book begins, Will is in prison telling his story to a scribe named Odo. Through the retelling of this story we learn of Bran and Will's exploits and how he came to be imprisoned. Throughout this there are a smattering of chapters that take place while Will is in jail, letting us know what is going on in the meantime.

The pace of this book was wonderful. It never drags, never gives too many boring details, and is pretty much filled with surprises. Lawhead succeeded in making these characters extremely real and vibrant. The thing I love the most about this book and it's predecessor is that it is the story of Robin Hood, but it isn't. The settings and circumstances are similar enough to see but different enough to make this a brilliant new twist to a tried a true legend.

My only complaint - besides that the third book Tuck isn't out yet - is the repetition of certain phrases. Occasionally Odo interrupts Will in his retelling of the events that led to his predicament. Will patiently answers Odo's questions and then the sections end with some version or other of "and so we trudge on.." It's a minor complaint to be sure, but it did irk me something fierce.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with a love for righteous bandits, raven legends, the myth of Robin Hood, or a good story set in the conflicted realm of England.

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