a dedicated dilettante
Hood provides a whole new look into the Robin Hood legend. It is a richly written tapestry late 11th Century Britain. The enemy are the Normans (and the Frank). It's told primarily from the protagonist's (aka Bran Bendigedig, the Hood) perspective and uses the etiquette, pacing and milieu of the day for dialog, action and relationships of the day. I thoroughly enjoyed this but my teenage boys found it a bit slow.
Stephen Lawhead provides a compelling argument in the supplement to the book "Robin Hood in Wales" to move the Robin Hood we know and love from Sherwood Forest (and indeed from being English) to being a Welshman in Wales. The reason I bring this up is this sets the tone for the book and is indicative of Mr. Lawhead's writing. He is thorough in his research and, as I indicated above, the subsequent setting of his book and the way the dialog and action move forward. He writes as if this could have been a personal history.
I went between the Kindle and Audible versions. Adam Verner does an outstanding job with the challenging Welch titles and overall language. His pacing is spot on with Bran being quicker spoken than Iwan. Irritation, whininess and arrogance of just the right amounts come from Count Falkes de Braose voice. There are times that the period is spoken quite slow, but I suspect the paces of things were a bit slower. If you like audiobooks, you'll enjoy this one.
For full review: http://wp.me/p2XCwQ-J5
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature.
Hood is the first novel in Stephen Lawhead‘s King Raven Trilogy, which is a historical fantasy based on the Robin Hood legend. Lawhead places his story in Wales after the conquest of Britain by the Normans and during the reign of William the Red. (If that sounds a bit odd, Mr. Lawhead gives several convincing reasons for this at the end of the book — you might want to read that first.) The Normans are encroaching into Wales, confiscating land, and generally mistreating the Welsh. Bran, a prince of one of the Welsh districts whose father was just killed by the Normans, has been driven from his castle. His people think him dead and have no hope for regaining their former way of life. Not that Bran, an irresponsible womanizing rogue, would have been considered a potential savior anyway, but after the Normans injure him severely, Bran is rescued and nursed back to health by a strange spiritual leader who recognizes his potential. Bran comes a long way (without losing his personality), but things are still unsettled at the end of the book.
Stephen Lawhead‘s writing and story-telling abilities have steadily improved over the years. I found his Pendragon series tough to stick with (although that was partly due to having read too much Arthurian legend, perhaps), but the Albion series was quite good. This latest book, however, shows that Mr. Lawhead has been steadily honing his story-telling skills to perfection. The writing was perfectly clear and lively, the descriptions aptly set the scenes, the plot was quick and entertaining, and the dialogue was rich and realistic. Lawhead is well-known for performing extensive research before he writes, and it shows in this novel. I really felt like I was back in 11th century Wales!
I’ve always enjoyed Lawhead’s complex characters. In Hood, Bran is the “reluctant hero,” but somehow he doesn’t come across as a stereotype — perhaps because we clearly see his flaws as he flies into rages, remorselessly kills people who get in his way, and forgets to pine over the woman he said he loves. Some of the most intriguing characters are the several religious leaders who represent the Catholic Church. Some are devout, some are corrupt, and Lawhead deftly uses their points of view to show us that being religious does not make a person good. There are good religious people, and there are bad people who use religious institutions to bring glory and riches to themselves instead of to God.
Furthermore, through the points of view of the religious people, we see that there are many gray moral areas. For example, God loves truth, but is it right to tell a lie when the truth would cause innocent people to be harmed? God loves justice and mercy, so should we obey or disobey an unjust ruler? Lawhead never asks us these questions directly, and he certainly never answers them for us, but they are there for the thoughtful reader to contemplate.
I listened to Hood in audiobook format. Despite some unconvincing accents and a few mispronunciations, the reading was good. The reader (Adam Verner) was enthusiastic, well-paced, and had a generally pleasant voice. This was a good format for this novel, and I recommend it.
This is an interesting retelling of the well known Robin Hood story. However, its a bit simplistic for my tastes. I can't help thinking its aimed at younger readers.
The dialogue at times is jarringly anachronistic and the norman characters have a tendency to spontaneously break into modern french (just in case we didn't realise where they came from?).
The narrator does a good job with the range of voices needed for the characters, though he does tend to mispronounce celtic words and names.
All in all, It was a bit disappointing and I don't think I will continue with the series.
The author has some compelling reasons for the legend originating in Wales which he presents after the end of the tale. The story was well written and held my interest very well. I love the whole legend of Robin Hood and found this version very believable. I enjoy hearing about different historical periods and how people lived in different times.
This book moves terribly slowly and is written in a rather staid style. This might be intentional (historically accurate?), but I found it boring.
I think the trilogy could have easily fit in the 12 hours I listened to.
While the story of Robin Hood set in Wales is an interesting one (that is well and convincingly done by Lawhead), what I appreciated most about this audiobook is that it's internal segments aligned with actual chapters; this made it easy to know and find your place, especially if you were to be listening as well as reading the book (depending on which media worked for you in a given context). Adam Verner also did a great job as narrator, varying his voice well for different characters (only sometimes being slightly irritating when doing the voices of the female characters).
I have to say that I was disappointed. I love many of Stephen Lawhead's books, but his writing is really heavy-handed in this book. I heard the phrase "be that as it may..." too many times to count. Also, the narrator has an odd way of reading- he over enunciates, so the text is stilted and hard to listen to. Pus the music that shows up at random interludes is distracting, and doesn't seem to have anything to do with the storyline- other than its supposed to be slightly celtic-mystical, I guess. Overall, this is mediocre at best- i might recommend reading it instead of listening to the audiobook.
Amusing story set primarily in Wales (UK) but the reader has no idea at all about how to pronounce some of the welsh names. Some of these are a real hoot. The river Wye (pronounced why) he pronounces as wee. Would have been better without these errors but an enjoyable listen nontheless.
A great re-telling of the Robin Hood legend with a beautiful twist of Celtic mythology. Well voiced and well written!
I enjoyed the retelling of Robin Hood set in a different location which gave the story a new and fresh appeal. However, the narrator was dreadful. Nothing more distracting when listen to a good book then to hear it read in a terrible accent and words so mispronounced that at times I could not quite understand what they where. This book is worth listen to for the great story but be aware that the narrator may lessen your enjoyment.