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Robin HoodThe Legend Begins AnewFor centuries, the legend of Robin Hood and his band of thieves has captivated the imagination Now the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected settingSteeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Stephen R Lawhead s latest work conjures up an ancient past and holds a mirror to contemporary realities Prepare yourself for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood Not bad, at the start I really couldn t be bothered reading this hence the amount of time it took to read but as it progressed and there wasfantasy andinteresting stuff I began to like and read itandThe ending was positively enjoyable The characters could have had somedetail and back story but I still liked most of them and found the storyline fun at bits Not bad Robin Hood and Friar Tuck together once againbut not quite as all of us remember them Never fear HOODitesSir 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 Robin Hood and Friar Tuck together once againbut not quite as all of us remember them Never fear HOODitesSir 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 someevents, 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 doneI 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 questionWHY 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 DNF d at 35% I m just not feeling this The story is decent enough and I love the idea of a gritty, realistic, Welsh Robin Hood The execution is just falling flat, and there s too much out there I want to read to continue reading a book I don t care about.There s something off about this writing While I wouldn t necessarily call it bad, it feels forced Like the author is making a conscious effort to dumb down his narrative to make it YA It ends up reading about as flat as a poorly done tr DNF d at 35% I m just not feeling this The story is decent enough and I love the idea of a gritty, realistic, Welsh Robin Hood The execution is just falling flat, and there s too much out there I want to read to continue reading a book I don t care about.There s something off about this writing While I wouldn t necessarily call it bad, it feels forced Like the author is making a conscious effort to dumb down his narrative to make it YA It ends up reading about as flat as a poorly done translation from a foreign language.So yeah, I don t think this fails because it is YA I think it fails because the author isn t writing YA well I have no idea how his writing is for his adult books, but this didn t give me a lot of incentive to try any Lawhead is one of my favorite authors, so I had a built in interest in his King Raven trilogy as soon as I heard about it This first volume didn t disappoint Unlike the author s Dragon King and Song of Albion fantasy trilogies, this one is a work of historical fiction like Parke Godwin in Sherwood, he s set himself to re imagine what the actual roots of the Robin Hood legend might have been like, and like the latter he locates Robin in the 11th century, not the 12th Lawhead, though, places Lawhead is one of my favorite authors, so I had a built in interest in his King Raven trilogy as soon as I heard about it This first volume didn t disappoint Unlike the author s Dragon King and Song of Albion fantasy trilogies, this one is a work of historical fiction like Parke Godwin in Sherwood, he s set himself to re imagine what the actual roots of the Robin Hood legend might have been like, and like the latter he locates Robin in the 11th century, not the 12th Lawhead, though, places the doughty outlaw later than Godwin, in the reign of William II and locates him in the Welsh marches, as a Celtic Briton fighting for his land and people in the face of creeping Norman conquest This, of course, reflects the writer s well known fascination with all things Celtic but as might be expected from his penchant for thorough research, it isn t without arguable historical justification some of which he sketches in the fascinating Robin Hood in Wales historical note that follows the novel proper.While Hood isn t a fantasy per se, though, it has its roots in legend and lore, a forest setting that s certainly a place of mystery and secrets, and as in, for instance, Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter the occasional ambiguous hint of something that might or might not be truly supernatural Lawhead s knowledge of Welsh history and folktales is in evidence although the story Angharad tells Bran about his namesake is altered considerably from the known version More importantly, his ability to spin an involving story is front and center This is a story of cruel injustice and, ultimately, of brave and creative response to injustice but though it has violent action in places not as grisly gory as in some Lawhead novels , it s not solely about fighting with swords and bows Robin here named Bran doesn t come to his liberating mission as a full blown hero like Minerva leaping from the brain of Jove he s an older teen in most of the book, a human being with realistic psychological baggage, and he has to grow into his calling Watching him do that is as fascinating as the action scenes A lotcould be written favorably about this book but suffice it to say that it s a worthy addition to literature s Robin Hood canon It also ably sets the stage for the next volume, Scarlet and now, for me, it s on to that one