This is part of the latest Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy Blog Tour, which has now grown to 48 active members this round! Way to go everyone, let’s keep spreading the word and promoting speculative fiction written by Christians!
Well, without further delay, here is my overview of the book along with some of my initial thoughts. Make sure to come back tomorrow for a more in-depth analysis of the book with pros, cons, and some historical insights.
Rhi-Bran & Merian
The “Robin and Marian” would be their more familiar names. Bran must gather his men, his wits, and his heart to regain his throne. And Merian ends up, well, you do have to read the story to find out, don’t you?
Baron Neufmarche & Lady Agnes
At the end of Hood, I thought the Baron was the “true” chief nemesis of the series, and that he would usurp Baron de Braose to become the foil of Bran. But this did not pan out. TUCK throws him in a completely different light, and thus reveals a different side to the Saxon / Norman / Welsh equation.
Garran & Sybil
A Welsh king who is married to Baron Neufmarche’s daughter. They are caught in the middle between Bran’s desire for revenge and the Normans’ take-over.
Bran’s mother’s cousin, King of the northern Welsh. In prison for many years, Bran must try to free him and secure his help. Haha! Keep reading for this part.
Scarlet & Noin
Scarlet is healing from his injuries in the last book, and so doesn’t play much of a part here, but he is in the book nonetheless. What I missed most was his narration. Tuck’s perspective was well done, but Scarlet’s voice was fantastic and hard to beat.
An erstwhile common priest, who steals the show, so to say. When I read the book, I kept picturing and hearing the voice of the actor who played Tuck in the excellent Richard Greene Robin Hood television series from the 1950’s. Perhaps Lawhead saw this series, because Tuck in this book fits him to a “T” (not to make a pun). And Robin’s exploits in this book kind of fit the Richard Greene mold as well.
The central conflict of the series is Bran ap Brychan attempting to regain the throne of Elfael, which has been in his family line since remembrance. It was stolen by the Baron de Braose, and passed on to Abbot Hugo (Mr. Nasty) in Book Two’s heartbreaking “almost got it back” end scene.
So for all appearances, the fight is over. Bran has fewer than few men to help him fight on, and so he and his group rely on:
- Attempted peace (fails)
- Asking for help from a nearby cantref (fails)
- Asking for help from cousins in the north (fails)
The last attempt takes up the entire middle of the book, and is so well written, and so Robin Hood-like, that I must applaud Stephen Lawhead for his humor, daring, and creativity.
(WARNING: Minor Spoilers Below!)
So Lawhead gives us defeat in spades, thus motivating Bran to take matters into his own, now weaker hands. And he succeeds beyond all expectations.
But that’s not the end. The unjust Abbot Hugo was really just holding the land for William Rufus, the Norman King of England. Revenge arrives in the form of an unconquerable army to destroy the Welsh rebellion.
All is lost.
Or is it? From the blood of defeat comes victory unlooked for, and in a way that I didn’t expect. Lawhead had me laughing and rooting right to the end.
This doesn’t mean I was immediately satisfied with the ending of the book, and series. But more on this tomorrow.
There’s much to like in Tuck. This book is acceptable for mature teens on up. Who will like Tuck?
- Any fan of Robin Hood!
- Any fan of fantasy!
- Any fan of historical fiction!
- Any fan of the middle ages!
Here’s a list of the other tour members: