Hood by Stephen R. Lawhead (2006)

hoodThis engaging, surprisingly erudite retelling of the Robin Hood myth – relocated to Wales in the 11th century – is the first in the Raven King trilogy. Bran is a young prince whose mother dies when he is just a boy. His father, no longer tempered by his wife, becomes harsh with Bran, creating a rift between the two.

When the Normans invade England and attempt to subdue the Welsh, Bran’s father and his war host are struck down. Bran and his people flee. Having never wanted the crown, Bran attempts to flee north to his kin, only to be hunted and severely wounded. This first book takes us through Bran’s transformation from handsome, disaffected and naïve youth to scarred, informed and compassionate man.

Slowly but surely familiar names appear in surprising roles. A slight magical element runs through the whole, tantalizing the reader and giving the story the little umph it needs just when the narrative starts to drag. I look forward to starting the next, Scarlet.

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