Stephen Lawhead’s Hood – A Quick Review

This blog post is in response to a comment/question from Steven Till, who runs a most excellent blog over at www.steventill.com. His blog is about, as his title says:

  • Medieval History (Middle Ages History)
  • Historical Fiction
  • Fantasy Books
  • Fantasy Novels
  • Fantasy Writing
  • Writing Fiction

All things my blog readers and I are fascinated by!

Steve’s Comment:

Hi Robert, I was looking for your review to Hood but couldn’t find it. I posted a review of Hood a while back on my site as well, and was curious to get your take on it. I haven’t gotten around to reading Scarlet yet. If you could recommend one series from Lawhead, which one would you choose? I like your site and have already subscribed to your blog. Thanks for stopping by my site earlier!

My Answer:

Thanks, Steve, for stopping by, and even subscribing. Wow. The reason you didn’t find my review of Hood is that I had read the book before I started my blog, and never got around to writing about it!

Hood by Stephen Lawhead

Alas, here’s my tardy thoughts on Hood:

  • A very fascinating, orignal take to put Robin Hood in Wales. It does make a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Stephen’s critiques of the ballads is a little harsh, though, and I’m not sure if he’s fully justified sticking him in Wales based on the inconsistencies in the legends.

    But even if Robin wasn’t Welsh, surely someone like him must have existed in Wales in just that time period of Norman conquest. So even if he’s not Robin, you have to say, well, this could have happened.

  • The writing is excellent, barring the slow middle. The motivations of everyone is believable. The ending picks up nicely. Particularly, his introduction of Baron Neufmarche is masterful.

My daughter, Adele, is just so-so on the book, but that has a lot to do with her own research and strong opinions of Robin Hood.

Thanks for prodding me for a critique of Hood … very important with Tuck in my clutches and calling loudly to be read.

Scarlet by Stephen Lawhead

I do recommend Scarlet, as Scarlet’s portion of the book is in 1st person and very well written. Lawhead does some very creative things there.

Lawhead is at his best in his Song of Albion series (and I don’t think I’m in the minority in thinking this). A contemporary, portal fantasy, but he uses a lot of ancient historical stuff to ground the work. Highly recommended.

Byzantium was good as well. Haven’t read Patrick. I didn’t enjoy the Celtic Crusades as much. Not bad, but didn’t grab me.

Lawhead’s Arthurian work is excellent, particularly the first three, Taliesin, Merlin & Arthur. The latter books after these three suffer a bit, but they’re not bad, and I read them all, including Avalon, the contemporary Arthur novel where he comes back in modern day Britain.

-Robert

p.s. I just read your more thorough review after writing my above notes … looks like we agree on quite a bit. That slow middle was probably important to Lawhead, as he seems to really enjoy bards and druids. They ground his historical works deeper in the past.

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8 thoughts on “Stephen Lawhead’s Hood – A Quick Review

  • Your review of Hood is very similar to my own thoughts about the book. It’s a fantastic book, and though its based on some well known source material, the book felt totally original to me. I loved the reimagining of the legend, and yes, though the middle was a bit slow, the ending was amazing, with Bran, Lord Raven performing some startling acts of thievery with great motivation…anyway, I am reading Scarlett now, and hoping to get into Tuck very soon! Great review Robert.

  • Thanks for stopping by, Alex! If you didn’t mind a re-imagining of the legend, My daughter’s series, “Greenwood Shadows” will do it to the “T”, but with the goal of actually staying *closer* to many of the legends, which are far different than most imagine.

    Ever hear of Hind Horn? He’s actually the chief bad-guy, not the Sherrif. Not “Prince John”. Hind Horn is downright scary, and he’s the one in the legends. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    Anyway, my daughter’s blog is at http://adele.epictales.org, but she yanked her sample chapters because she’s rewriting them.

  • I can see how if one had done a lot of research on Robin Hood, inaccuracies would be hard to look past. I think it was in one of the Sherlock Holmes books where it said that one can’t enjoy a movie about their own profession, because they’ll be constantly criticizing where the movie gets it wrong. It just makes it harder to suspend disbelief.

  • Yodeler… very true! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but that makes sense. I always have that disbelief if I read something I know isn’t right. That’s one advantage of pure fantasy writing, you don’t need to worry what anyone thinks as long as you stay away from cliches. Of course, since I’m writing about King Arthur, I’m stuck with those same set of expectations in every reader. Many won’t be pleased, I expect, but many will, hopefully.

    My son, Leighton, has a blog you should check out… http://slygames.epictales.org. He’s 14, and working on a 3D video game based on his sister’s book.

    Thanks for visiting … I’m planning on checking out your writing!

  • I definitely agree about that advantage of fantasy writing, Mr. Treskillard. Quite honestly, I like to learn but I don’t like doing the research itself. But with fantasy even if the story contradicts itself a little creativity can usually solve it.

    I’ve actually visited Leighton’s blog a few times but haven’t commented. It looks like quite the cool project.

    Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog and read the chapter samples.

  • I guess that we have to ask ourselves, in the case of Robin Hood, where does fantasy writing end and history begin!

    As someone that has researched the legend for many years;eventualy one realises that 700 years of fantasy writing is just as interesting as visiting the medieval archives!

    I haven’t read Lawheads books-but I will do- but having read that William Wallace was the Scottish Robin Hood- I am not surprised the Welsh have got involved!!

    Can I also reccommend Adele’s fascinating web site and say she has a refreshing style of research.

    Regards

  • Clement,

    >> “700 years of fantasy writing is just as interesting as visiting the medieval archives”

    So true! I think that’s why Adele and I are so fascinated by these legends … there is so much to dig out from them, and so much to create. They are a treasure trove of heroic deeds and inspiring feats.

    >> “William Wallace was the Scottish Robin Hood”

    I’ve always thought of Rob Roy as the Scottish Robin Hood, but maybe I’m being influenced by Sir Walter Scott’s analysis more than by the intention of the outlaw himself. Also, my mother named me after Rob Roy, so that enters into the equation as well!

    Thanks for stopping by! Sorry my reply has been tardy, I’ve had a busy couple of weeks.

    -Robert

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