Reviewed by Lori Fox
"[Lawhead is] a history buff and spends a lot of time and effort on research. Not only does he look at facts for inspiration, but he uses his research to craft plausible stories."
King William has given the control of Elfael into the hands of the cruel and greedy Abbot Hugo. This does not sit well with Bran, the rightful ruler of Elfael and leader of the Grellon- freedom fighters from the Ffreinc controlled area. Bran and Friar Tuck leave the Grellon to live as best they can while they travel to Bran's kinsmen, seeking assistance to run the weakened Ffreinc forces from Elfael once and for all.
In the mean time, the Lady Merian runs to her own family, seeking more troops to help Bran restore his throne and people to their rightful place. Finding her father dead, and her brother married into Ffreinc nobility does not lend itself to her persuasive powers.
Tuck, the final book in Stephen R. Lawhead's King Raven Trilogy, follows Friar Tuck as he travels with Bran and attempts to cool his leader's hot head. While Friar Tuck is rarely successful in that endeavor, those few times are absolutely crucial to the outcome of his particular story.
You can certainly read Tuck as a standalone story, but I recommend reading at least Hood (the first in the trilogy) if not Scarlet as well (the second) for the best understanding of the characters and their motivations. Actually, there are several places in Tuck where the basic story of Scarlet is laid out in an early modern English style, so you really can keep up even if you haven't read the first two books.
And that's one of the things that I like about Stephen R. Lawhead's more recent books. He's a history buff and spends a lot of time and effort on research. Not only does he look at facts for inspiration, but he uses his research to craft plausible stories. For a long time, I thought of his Pendragon Cycle as a history of King Arthur. The King Raven Trilogy isn't as enchanting, but it is just as convincing.
In fact, I would recommend Tuck, and the rest of the King Raven Trilogy for history buffs and readers who enjoy narrative non-fiction more than I would to Fantasy readers. There is no magic involved in Tuck at all, but since Robin Hood is considered a legend, well, you can see why the trilogy is considered Historical Fantasy rather than simply Historical.
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.