Reviewed by Lori Fox
"Imagine taking a story that has been told so often it’s become a part of our society’s collective consciousness, then tracing that story back to its very roots to reconstruct the original tale."
Will Scarlet, a loyal follower of King Raven, is sentenced to die. The only cause for a temporary reprieve is that the relentless Abbot Hugo believes this caged sparrow is the key to King Raven's downfall. As such, a scribe is sent to Scarlet every day to hear the tale of Will Scarlet's life from the time he joined the outlaws until the time of his capture.
Little does the Abbot know that Will Scarlet has no intention of handing him any information that would aid the capture of his beloved lord. And Scarlet prefers it that way. After all, should the Abbot discover this, Will's life will be that much shorter.
Scarlet is the second book in the King Raven series (aka, Robin Hood), and takes place from the point of view of Will Scarlet, Rhi Bran Y Hud's newest, and most loyal follower. Will's personality and background are a bit unexpected in the beginning, but you soon get into the groove of his speech pattern and way of thought.
I have been a fan of Stephen Lawhead's novels for a very long time. After reading Hood, the first installment of his King Raven series, I found that I could enjoy his writing in an entirely new way. While the series can be most closely identified with his Pendragon series, Hood and Scarlet can't really be described as "like this" or "like that" without seriously bending definitions. Hood and Scarlet are much more akin to a well researched historical novel, than to a fantasy of any sort.
Stephen Lawhead's approach to writing historicals springs from his earlier works of fantasy. Imagine taking a story that has been told so often that it's become a part of our society's collective consciousness, then tracing that story back to its very roots to reconstruct the original tale. And then, delving deep into history to find, not only what the world was like in that time period, but any hint of reality to base the tale on. And then, taking all of that, and putting it together in such a way that you'll forget it's fiction.
The pace of Scarlet is a bit slower than one would expect in Lawhead's novels, but the pacing is set to mimic real, or at least realistic, events. I couldn't help but be drawn in to the story, and I enjoyed every minute of its telling. But tastes do vary, and if you're inclined to prefer a fast paced action novel, or sword and sorcery fantasy, I'd give this a miss and look up some of his earlier work.
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.