BooksReview

Review: Slow but Inventive, "Hood" Retells a Classic Tale (King Raven Trilogy, #1)

Cynthia Ayala ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Bran ap Brychan was a prince, until the Franks invaded, taking his land, killing his father and their militia. Left for dead, Bran is healed by a witch of the Christian faith, a spiritual woman. Now he has to make good on his promise and save his people the only way he can: by robbing the rich invaders and helping his mistreated people as a raven in the night, a phantom of fear. Filled with Celtic mythology combined with that of medieval Britain, this is a new tale of Robin Hood.

Hood, published September 1, 2006 by WestBow Press, is a retelling of the tale of Robin Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead that combines Celtic mythology with the Christian faith in a very interesting way. The real question though is why should this novel even be considered? There are so many retellings about Robin Hood, many of which go against actual history, that have captivated audiences for years. So what exactly makes this story unique? Well, the story, characterization and narrative are what make it unique. The story takes the tale out of Britain and transports it to Wales, submerging the story in Celtic mythology. It’s a unique take on the tale, one the author lays heavily on the characterization.

“Hood” Cover. Source: Thomas Nelson Publishing

Lawhead has constructed a story based on the characters, and to do that, he has to go to the beginning, to before the main protagonist was “Robin Hood”. This does make the story very slow paced, which may turn off some readers. Half the book is about who this person is before he becomes what his people need him to be and that is fine, it made for a great narrative, but it is slow and for some, it may take dedication and strength to finish the novel. So any reader has to keep in mind that this is not a novel full of exciting adventure, it is about the people before all that, for the first half of the novel. It’s such a slow novel to begin with, especially after such a fast paced beginning, and that’s on the one hand very unfortunate, but on the other hand any reader can appreciate the author’s talent and dedication to build these characters who have the story on their shoulders.

Characterization and narrative are at the center of why this story works. There is the inside plot, the various inside plots between the characters that tie together to build the story up and hold the overall plot together. And while it may be a very slow story for about half the novel, it soon becomes fun and adventurous.

It’s all about laying down the foundation for the tale and the mythos of Robin Hood to build a new version and that’s why this is a good story to read. Because it’s unique and very different from what anyone has read before. There is a protagonist who begins as a spoiled somewhat self-centered prince who becomes a phantom in the forest, a person, a king of thieves to help his people. That right there is the captivating part, that is why anyone will want to read this novel, because of their innate curiosity to see the tale be told in a completely new light.

Hood is an astounding novel, very slow but nonetheless captivating and inventive.

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