In the second book of his King Raven trilogy Stephen Lawhead continues his re-imagination of the Robin Hood legend as mythic Welsh adventure, this time from Will Scarlet’s point of view. William Scathelocke, a half-Welsh half-Saxon forester, loses his home and livelihood when an invading Norman baron kills his Saxon liege. Homeless, without family, and in a mind for revenge, Will heads for the land of his mother’s birth, where word is spreading that an otherworldly hero known as King Raven is leading a last stand against Norman encroachment. What Will finds is a band of feisty forest dwellers led by a man named Rhi Bran y Hud, a displaced Welsh lord seeking to reclaim his stolen kingdom and his people’s independence by any means necessary. In Bran’s company Will finds friendship, love, and a cause worth fighting—and likely dying—to win. But in Will’s mind, death is a small price to pay for the chance to live such an adventure.
Relocating the Robin Hood legend from the shires of Richard the Lionheart to the Welsh forests of a century prior lends a mysterious, fantastical element to the adventure; the Celtic names and tinge of magic only enhance the feeling. Frequent switching between Will’s memoir and a third-person narrator takes some getting used to, but the prose is so natural and the pace so taut that the pages turn themselves. Scarlet stands alone as its own story, but after reading it, you’ll want to get your hands on the other two titles. I know I did. Very highly recommended.