Bran ap Brychan is the heir to the throne in Elfael. But when his father and all his military men are slaughtered, Bran disappears into the forest with a ransom on his head. The forest to which he flees is a living, breathing, mysterious wood complete with danger, secrets, and powers that he does not understand.
Unwilling to fight for what is rightfully his, Bran must make a decision: become the king Elfael needs to survive in the ancient Welsh lands, or let the Norman invaders take his land, his heritage, and his family's honor. Will Bran stand to defend what is his, or will he let his countrymen down and forever change the history of medieval Britain?
Let me begin by saying just how boring this book really is. Yes, the premise is interesting. Yes, it's a different twist on the story of Robin Hood. But it is the most boring book I've ever read. Maybe my reading comprehension sucks. Maybe my tolerance for names I can't pronounce without a guide (which I ended up pronouncing my own way anyway) is so bad I actually fall in the ignorant category. But by heavens, even Shakespeare is more exciting. So that said, I would recommend this book for those interested in Celtic mythology and folklore. The rest of you - read at your own risk.
Stephen Lawhead gives a convincing argument for placing Robin Hood in Welsh country, as opposed to the much more familiar Sherwood Forest. I've been drawn to Welsh history ever since I watched Sir Derek Jacobi play a medieval monk in the Cadfael mystery series, so Robin Hood's relocation to that time and place was a lot of fun for me.
In this story, Robin Hood actually goes by the name Bran. He's reckless and self-serving son of an angry Welsh King, whose lands are about to be invaded by murderous, yet extremely religious Norman conquerors. With his father soon dead, Bran, Iwan (Little John), and many of their people flee to the forest for safety. As more Welsh kingdoms fall to the Normans, Bran struggles to find his destiny, especially as his own plans don't always coincide with the well-being of his people.
Did I find the story suspenseful? Let me answer that with another question: Was I blissfully exhausted after realizing I'd stayed up till 4am to finish the novel last night? The answer is a resounding "yes!" After really getting to know each of the major characters I was happily drawn into the drama.
The plot moved along a little slowly for part of the novel, but what was sacrificed to plot was made up in character development. I was happy with it. And besides, there was plenty of action throughout to keep the overall story riveting. I also truly love Lawhead's descriptions in this story, especially of the landscape, the lifestyle, and the action scenes. At some points his writing seemed exquisite to me. Love love love!
I loved "Hood" and I highly recommend it. Definitely worth 5 out of 5 stars. And I can't wait to read book two in the series: "Scarlet."
This book was so much fun to read! I've always enjoyed the story of Robin Hood (not just the cartoon, although I liked that as well). This is the first Stephen Lawhead book I ever read - and I immediately finished purchasing this trilogy as well as the Song of Albion trilogy. The author does a masterful job of providing us details of the life and culture (as well as the political machinations) of the time period. However, even though he provides a helpful pronunciation guide in the front, I still had to make up my own way of pronouncing the names of places and people! I guess I should work on my linguistic skills... How would YOU pronounce Coed Cadw?
This book tells the story of Bran, who (predictably) becomes the persona we know as Robin Hood. The way that Bran becomes Robin Hood is a fantastically weaved tale. This is one book that is sure to set your imagination on fire!
There is plenty of romance, action, humor, and drama in this story - and the book has an easy flowing pace. The author does use some outdated vocabulary that a few readers may find offensive, but all of the words can be found in the KJV Bible.
A Welsh Robin Hood. That very concept alone grabbed my attention. That, and the fact that Stephen Lawhead wrote it. That sealed the deal. What a very oringinal reconception of the idea. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the familiar story with these added Celtic twists. Seeing Bran as a rake at the beginning of the book and watching his transformation because of the ancient legends he heard was intriguing. The introduction of Angharad as the last bard was innovative and gave new life to the story. I was afraid for a while that she would replace Tuck, but I am happy to say that he still played a major role. Although Maid Marian and Little John are in the story, they play only supporting roles. Whereas, Will Scarlet plays a much larger role. (Even has the second book named after him). Completely original, thought-provoking, and spiritually sound, Hood was an amazing read.