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Uffering of those he meets along the way fuels his angerWith his demands dismissed Bran has no choice but to return home where a worse fate awaits him His lands have been confiscated and his people enslaved by a bruta. I have been a great fan of the Robin Hood legend since I was sevenStephen Lawhead breathes new life into the legend with this historical thriller which had me hooked from the start and which I finished in threeRobin Hood Bran ap Brychan is Welsh ands not English and the main action takes place not in Sherwood Forest but the primeval Welsh greenwood It is also set not during the reign of King John but a century earlier in the reign of William II RufusBran Prince of the Welsh kingdom of Elfael is turned into a fugitive after his father the king is killed and his land seized by the Norman French invadersHis efforts to secure his kingdom are cruelly rebuffed and Elfael's people are enslaved by the evil Count De Braose Bran together with Iwan and a Saxon monk build a settlement of destitute Welsh refugees and harry the French commerce in ElfaelMarion is Merian a stunningly beautiful and intelligent Welsh princess and is there as Bran's young lover from the beginning mong Bran's retinue is an ancient sorceress and healer who nurses Bran back to helath when he is wounded and fleeing the FrenchLawhead uses his brilliant penmanship to craft a thrilling well grounded and smooth flowing story while keeping the sence of Robin Hood as the champion of the poor and arch enemy of the Norman elites robin Hood as the Welsh patriot Bran still retains the sence of what Robin Hood stands forAt one stage on the way to London to petition his case he even humiliates two Norman knights who are harassing two little English girls and rescues the children

CHARACTERS Hood (King Raven, Book 1)

Hood King Raven Book 1L and corrupt regimeShould Bran flee or protect his people by surrendering to his father's murderers The answer perhaps is known only to the Raven King a creature of myth and magic born of the forest's darkest shadows. Stephen Lawhead's new trilogy about Robin Hood the King Raven trilogy is pretty unusual in its portrayal of Robin Hood as a Welsh prince in the time of William II rather than a dispossessed aristocrat during Richard the Lionheart's crusades Stephen Lawhead includes an epilogue 'Robin Hood in Wales' in which he explains his reasoning It will seem strange to many readers and perhaps even perverse to take Robin Hood out of Sherwood Forest and relocate him in Wales; worse still to remove all trace of Englishness set his story in the eleventh century and recast the honourable outlaw as an early British freedom fighter My contention is that although in Nottingham the Robin Hood legends found good soil in which to grow they must surely have originated elsewhereAs far as I can tell Lawhead's hypothesis is reasonable I kind of wish he'd included a list of sources maybe referenced some other writers as I know nothing else about this It's kind of appropriate that I read this now I go to a Welsh university where I'm going to be studying the Robin Hood tradition next semester If anyone knows where to find research related to this I'd be really happyIt doesn't seem so implausible that the stories could have originated in Wales for a start At heart the tactics of Robin Hood seem similar to the tactics adopted by the Welsh Ultimately unsuccessful tactics obviously And the Robin Hood stories were originally just a collection of oral folklore probably appreciated most in places where people most felt that someone needed to be sticking it to the man Minstrels would apparently attach local place names to the tales to make them interesting to the listeners It'd probably be impossible now to figure out exactly where the stories originated from reallyIt's interesting that two key uintessentially English heroes were to differing degrees of verifiability actually appropriated from the Welsh As for the English Robin Hood with whom we are all so familiar just as Arthur a Briton was later Anglicised made into the uintessential English king and hero by the same enemy Saxons he fought against a similar makeover must have happened to RobinI imagine that the 'makeover' for Robin was less conscious than with Arthur but it's still interesting that if you dig the two main English heroes might not be so English at all Note that Briton refers to the indigenous population of the British Isles before the Angles Saxons and NormansReading reviews of this book all over the internet makes me feel a little sick when they declare that of course Robin could never be Welsh and I seriously uote Nothing good ever came out of Wales And others who were just uncomfortable with a Welsh Robin Which doesn't surprise me knowing how English people have reacted in the past to me pointing out that the first Arthur stories were Welsh If the Robin Hood legends are somehow holy for you then don't try this trilogy you won't like itSaying that despite the unusual choice of setting the story isn't all that different Even though Stephen Lawhead acknowledges that Maid Marian was a sixteenth century addition to the legend one of the characters does indeed go by the name Mérian There's also John Iwan Tuck Aethelfrith Guy They don't all join the story in the traditional way but the plot remains pretty close Robin himself is actually called Bran in this story Rhi BranThere's a lot that could be very very interesting about this book It definitely makes me grin that the Welsh are so positively portrayed and their opponents rather negatively portrayed and the idea of a Welsh Robin is as far as I can tell pretty bold and new The bias and setting are new the drawing on Celtic myth is interesting I did recognise some bits that seemed to come right out of Lawhead's earlier research and invention for The Paradise WarOne thing that definitely impressed me was the sensitivity to language There were Welsh names scattered through it for people and for places and the Normans used French phrases and words The Welsh didn't call themselves Welsh which of course they wouldn't have done The word Welsh originates from the Saxon wealas which means foreigner I smiled a little to read the Welsh calling themselves Cymry Definitely appropriateI have to say that it didn't come together into a whole very well for me unfortunately Robin himself isn't terribly likeable he thinks he's God's gift to women he wants to please himself almost abandons his people He does eventually return to his duty and take up his burden but then he's a rather distant character I found and I still didn't connect with him Which is awkward given that traditionally he is one of the most sympathetic characters Most of the characters weren't really fleshed out and I kept getting flashbacks to the recent BBC adaptation of Robin Hood to fill in the gaps It doesn't help that the portrayals are uite one sided the Normans are grasping greedy the Welsh are the beleaguered peasants We all know who is Right and who is Wrong there's very little blurring of that which could've made it richer and interesting The story itself moves slowly and by the end of the book the adventure we all know so well is only just kicking off In a way that's good because we now have a good and solid background with the different political situation laid out for us The players are in place hopefully the next books will be less about set upLawhead's writing is pretty readable and not purple prose like his early stuff but in itself this first book doesn't draw me into the trilogy very well It may pick up from here but either way I'm reading it mostly because I'm interested in the underlying ideasEdit Having done a module on it and read around on the subject I have to say that Lawhead's idea of Robin being originally a Welsh story doesn't work Perhaps aspects of the tale might have come out of Wales but the Robin Hood ballads didn't spread to Wales much You'd expect something to have survived even if only in fragmentsStill a very interesting interpretation though and I'd still like to see Lawhead's sources

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FREE READ Hood (King Raven, Book 1) 107 â The Norman conuest of England is complete but for one young man the battle has only just begunWhen Bran's father is murdered by Norman soldiers he flees to London seeking justice The journey is long and hard and the suffering of those he meets along the way fuels his angerWith his demands dismissed Bran has noThe Norman conuest of England is complete but for one young man the battle has only just begunWhen Bran's father is murdered by Norman soldiers he flees to London seeking justice The journey is long and hard and the s. Robin Hood and Friar Tuck together once againbut not uite 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 uniue 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 conuest of England under William the Conueror 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 uite 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 ie “slightly alive” Bran manages to pull a Houdini and escapes deep into the heart of the ancient Welsh woods There he meets a mysterious healersagepoetess who nurses Bran back to health while simultaneously educatingindoctrinating him in the lore of the mythical Raven King And after much anecdoting some events some mythical yarn spinning and some events 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 WelshIrishEnglish 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 uestionWHY 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 uite smitten enough to grant the 4th star I feel a bit stingy because of it but there you go 35 starsoh so close to 4 Highly Recommended