Sunday, July 25, 2010


Scarlet is the second in the King Raven trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. I read the first one, Hood, a few years ago, before I started listing the books I'm reading, so you'll have to look elsewhere for a description of it.

The premise of the trilogy is that Robin Hood wasn't actually from Nottingham, but rather a Welsh nobleman displaced by Norman invaders. His name is Bran, and Robin Hood becomes Rhi Bran y Hud (King Bran the enlightened). I found the premise interesting enough to grab the first book, and that one was a good enough read to encourage me to get the rest of the series. They're also very nice looking books, which always helps :)

As with most tellings of the Robin Hood tales, Robin is impeccably noble and good, and the bad guys are almost comically wicked. This second book is the tale of Will Scarlet (aka William Scatlocke), an English hunter displaced from his original home by the Normans. Like the first book of the trilogy, it's entertaining and fast paced, the baddies are sufficiently bad and the good guys are brave and noble. It's simple and clean, written in such a way that it will work as well for my 9-year-old son as it does for me, if not better.

In this episode of this trilogy, Will Scarlet joins Rhi Bran's band of outlaws, gets captured by the nasty Normans, and Rhi Bran and his band of outlaws gets mixed up in the near civil war between the King of England, William Rufus, and his brother, Duke Robert. It all ends up with the kind of conclusion you expect given that it's the second book of a trilogy.

It seems well researched (I don't know enough Welsh history to verify that, though), and it gives a good view of life shortly after the Norman conquest, and social changes brought about by very different attitudes at the top of the social hierarchy. If you're looking for good historical fiction that doesn't tax the brain too much, this is series is worthwhile. I'm planning on digging into the last book of the series, Tuck, in a few books' time.

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