Stephen's Reviews > Hood

Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead
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Aug 28, 11

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bookshelves: fantasy, historical-fantasy, audiobook, 2006-2010, mythstories-and-legends, retellings-reimaginings-and-mashes
Read from August 24 to 27, 2011

Robin Hood and Friar Tuck together once again...but not quite as all of us remember them:
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Never fear HOODites...Sir Daffy’s “oscar worthy” portrayal notwithstanding, Stephen Lawhead’s re-imagining of the Robin Hood legend is among the best I’ve come across and is praise-deserving for both its realism and its fresh, unique interpretation of the familiar tale. For the most part, I found this version very effective.

Rather than England’s well trodden Sherwood Forest, Lawhead has transported his story to the dense, primeval forests of Wales and set the tale during the late 11th century, immediately following the Norman conquest of England under William the Conqueror. Yep, the French have landed in England and they are tossing farm animals and farting in everyone's general direction.

While consolidating his rule in England, William has turned his hungry eyes toward Wales and has begun confiscating (a governmental euphemism for stealing) Welsh lands and bestowing them on his most loyal followers. This extreme redistribution of wealth causes quite a bit of WTF in Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne of Elfael, especially after his poppa is rendered life-impaired by a group of vile Frenchies on their way to take possession of Bran’s home.

Later, after being rendered “mostly dead” himself (i.e., “slightly alive”), Bran manages to pull a Houdini and escapes deep into the heart of the ancient Welsh woods. There he meets a mysterious healer/sage/poetess who nurses Bran back to health while simultaneously educating/indoctrinating him in the lore of the mythical Raven King. And after much anecdoting, some events, some mythical yarn-spinning and some more events, including the creation of the trademark bow, the avenging angel known as “the Hood” is born.

I don’t want to spill specific spoilage about Bran’s transformation because part of the charm of the story to watch the becoming slowly unfold. While I think it went on a little longer than I would have liked, Lawhead’s depiction of Bran growing in his new role was very well done...I see eerie similarities between Bruce Wayne’s transformation into the Dark Knight in Batman Begins. Yes, I went there and I stand by it.

Lawhead plays the story as straight historical fiction but provides enough mystery that some elements lend themselves to “fantastic” interpretation. I think Lawhead straddles this line deftly without losing his balance. Additionally, his use of Welsh/Irish/English myth and legend is polished and seamlessly woven into the story of the Raven King (at least in my limited knowledge) and I give him full marks for his use of these elements in the narrative.

All this begs the question...WHY oh WHY only 3 stars?

The short answer is, I’m not entirely sure and may revisit this after reading the next two books which I intend to do. I certainly enjoyed it and think the background, the characters and the story were very good. There were some slow plot spots and a few times when I found my attention doing a bit of wandering and in the end there was not enough “cracking of Norman nuts” to give me a full dose of the satisfieds. Still, I liked it. I just wasn’t quite smitten enough to grant the 4th star. I feel a bit stingy because of it, but there you go.

3.5 stars.....oh so close to 4. Highly Recommended!!
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Comments (showing 1-15)




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Anthony Chavez Very nice, look forward to your review of this as I just began book 3 of the trilogy "Tuck" today actually.


message 14: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Hey, I just read Outlaw It would be fun to compare these two books and takes on the Robin Lore. In Outlaw parallels are drawn between the stories of Robin Hood and the culture of of the protections offered to communities by organized crime and how tolerance of corruption creates situations where organized crime flourishes. Weirdly timed with listening to This American Life's Thugs the other day, Robin's on my mind!


message 13: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie Hey, I just read Outlaw It would be fun to compare these two books and takes on the Robin Lore. In Outlaw parallels are drawn between the stories of Robin Hood and the culture of of the protections offered to communities by organized crime and how tolerance of corruption creates situations where organized crime flourishes. Weirdly timed with listening to This American Life's Thugs the other day, Robin's on my mind!


message 12: by Anthony (last edited Aug 25, 2011 06:20PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anthony Chavez Oh wow, very interesting Natalie. I hadn't heard of Outlaw. Now I really want to read it. I love the story of Robin Hood and since a child anything related to the Legend and stories I just gobble up. I'm really liking the Hood trilogy though, and much research into the original story was done by Lawhead setting this trilogy in the Welsh lands. I also now see that a sequel has came out by Angus Donald about Robin Hood called Holy Warrior.


Anthony Chavez Nvm, scratch that, it's a full on trilogy, the 3rd titled "The King's Man."


Kat  Hooper I liked this story. Narrator of the audiobook isn't the best -- some unconvincing accents. But good story.


message 9: by Natalie (new) - added it

Natalie I just put Outlaw up on swap if you want to visit the other side of Robin Hood's psyche.


Stephen Kat wrote: "I liked this story. Narrator of the audiobook isn't the best -- some unconvincing accents. But good story."

I agree. Narrator wasn't the best but it didn't detract from my enjoyment too much.


Stephen Natalie wrote: "I just put Outlaw up on swap if you want to visit the other side of Robin Hood's psyche."

Thanks for the heads up, Natalie. Unfortunately, I picked up the ebook of this yesterday. Looks good.


message 6: by Anthony (last edited Aug 28, 2011 09:16AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anthony Chavez Ooooh bookswap? Man I need to get into that. I would totally wanna swap for Outlaw. Glad you liked it Stephen. In my opinion the 2nd one Scarlet was my least favorite. And Tuck thus far is probably my favorite. Liked your review, and yeah Lawhead is a bit slow and meticulous, totally agree with you.


Stephen Anthony wrote: "Ooooh bookswap? Man I need to get into that. I would totally wanna swap for Outlaw. Glad you liked it Stephen. In my opinion the 2nd one Scarlet was my least favorite. And Tuck thus far is probably my favorite."

Good to know. Thanks for the heads up, Anthony. Middle volumes are often the weakest so that doesn't surprise me. Glad to hear that Tuck is strong.


message 4: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock As re-imaginings go, I am partial to Rocket Robin Hood, myself.


Stephen Never heard of that one, but just looked at the link you included. It must have been pretty good as it had a fairly long run. Is the series available on Amazon, iTunes, etc.?


message 2: by Ben (new)

Ben Babcock Stephen wrote: "Never heard of that one, but just looked at the link you included. It must have been pretty good as it had a fairly long run. Is the series available on Amazon, iTunes, etc.?"

All I know is I stumbled across it late one night on TV, and I couldn’t stop watching. It was like a blast from the past.

Looks like Amazon carries it.


Stephen Ben wrote: "All I know is I stumbled across it late one night on TV, and I couldn’t stop watching. It was like a blast from the past.

Looks like Amazon carries it."


Thanks, Ben. I will check it out.


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