I have just finished reading what I have rated as my first 5-star novel of the year. A tale so finely crafted, so vivid in each and every detail, that I was moved in mind and spirit to another place and time in a way that I have rarely experienced. Certainly this was a work on a different plane, penned by a seasoned craftsman well honed in his skills. But first, a related back story is needed for you to appreciate how I found this treasure.
Several weeks ago I posted a blog entitled "More Than Gruel?", where I pondered aloud whether I was getting the most out of the novels that I read. Was I spending my time with crude and middling fare when there was a much more delicious feast out there? As I response to this post, a reader that I do not personally know (who goes by the mysterious moniker Ricky Anderson), suggested that I look into works by english author Stephen Lawhead. This lead me to my local library and a slew of books from which to choose. After a few moments of thought, I selected three books that are part of his so-called "King Raven" trilogy. The first book is entitled Hood.
Hood represents a re-telling of the legend of Robin Hood, set in the English and Welsh countrysides circa 1100 A.D. The story has as its backdrop the infighting and self-preservation of the royals of medieval Britain. The compelling antagonist is the prince of a small holding whose land has been taken away by a backroom deal. The author has undertaken detailed research with regard to his choice of setting and the descriptions of the characters and how they lived. His choice of the setting itself was not capricious, but one based on his following the legends of this vagabond back through the ages. Certainly though this portrayal is a mixture of legend, fact, and fiction. It is told in a carefully crafted and layered style so that the narrative and actions of the characters are fully developed and contained within the context of each scene and each part of the tale. Now, onto the second novel in the series, Scarlet.