Normans, Saxons and some very angry, repressed Cymry – prepare for a Robin Hood tale like never before.
Hood is the first book among Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy, documenting the transformation of Welsh nobleman Bran ap Brychan from indifferent prince to justice hungry outlaw in the wake of his father’s murder.
Lawhead is an internationally acclaimed author of mythic history, with his novels including Athurian Legends and Jerusalem Crusades.
“It will seem strange to many readers, and perhaps even perverse, to take Robin Hood out of Sherwood Forest and relocate him in Wales; worse still to remove all Englishness and recast the honourable outlaw as an early British Freedom Fighter.”
However, the author is trying to centre the nation’s favourite outlaw where he believes the tales originate from.
I know what you are thinking – why on earth is Robin Hood Welsh and where is the history? Just bare with me my dear readers.
The first recognisable reference to Hood, according to Lawhead, dates back to early 1260s, with the legends forming a well-known tale by 1350. But it wasn’t until about 1400 that the stories were brought together as one uniform version.
Over the years there has been a vast array of variation from Hobbehod to Roger! Even Maid Marian had a late debut, as one of the last characters added at the beginning of the sixteen century.
What I’m trying to say is that the story would have been told and retold in many different ways across space and time and this is simply another refreshing twist.
As a Notts lass myself, who grew up on the classic stories and picnics in Sherwood Forest, I do feel it is something deeply rooted in mine and my county’s heritage.
That said, I would thoroughly recommend the novel to anyone. The narrative is excellent and Bran’s character development across the trilogy is exquisite.
To watch him grow so much and thrive, is to me one of the most rewarding parts of the novel and immensely satisfying as a reader.
Of course, there are still a few of everyone’s well loved favourites too – they’ve all just been given a revitalisation to rival that of their roguish leader.
The inter-character relationships are well written and engaging. Bran’s relationship to feisty Mérian is incredibly entertaining and as complex as the Cymry/ Norman relations themselves.
The baddies make for just as interesting characters as the goodies and there’s many a plot twist in store.
All in all, it‘s just great fun and the serious messages behind it are brilliant. I believe those who love the original story will fall just as hard for this one.
So no, it isn’t traditional. But do you know what – that’s ok. Different is good.
Published by Atom, Hood and Scarlet retail at £7.99 whilst Tuck is marketed at £6.99.