Several Takes ago I promised to review my three favorite book series.

Then I witnessed a car accident and completely forgot about the second installment in my review series (A Different Kind of Take, 5/21/2012).  I’m sure that says something terrible about my future as a writer but I don’t know what it is and I refuse to worry about it.

Meanwhile, back in the forest, Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven series remains one of my top pics. Lawhead manages to combine historical fiction with mystic legend in a tightly crafted re-imagining of the Robin Hood folk tale. He has moved the story southwest in location and back in time, all without losing a leaf of the story’s compelling premise of downtrodden good against mean, greedy evil. The fact that our hero is Briton rather than British and the King is William instead of John, inhibits the adventure not in the slightest.

Over the course of three novels, Hood, Scarlet and Tuck, Bran ap Brychan becomes “King Raven”, the legendary Robin Hood, though the name sounds a bit different in Cymry (Welsh, as we Sassenachs might say.) Lawhead grants that, “it will seem strange to many readers, and perhaps even perverse, to take Robin Hood out of Sherwood forest and relocate him in Wales.” But he stands by his contention “that although in Nottingham, the Robin Hood legends found good soil in which to grow, they must surely have originated elsewhere.”  He supports his contention by creating characters, and indeed an entire world, that are at once eminently believable and completely legendary.

All too often texture and depth are missing from the oldest folk tales,  whether due to constant retelling or simply the inevitable distance time places between fact and legend. In the King Raven series, Lawhead found all that the centuries have taken away, and put it back.


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