Scarlet (King Raven Trilogy)

Scarlet - Stephen R. Lawhead Let me be honest here, prior to reading this book, I was worried. (Also, note that my past review of Hood was a reread, this one and Tuck I’ve never read before). I noticed that a good part of this book was in first person, which, you know always sets me off, but especially in this case because I thought that it would be taking too much away from Bran’s story by focusing on one of his men. Thankfully, I was thus proven wrong. To be honest, I might have liked this one more than Hood. Because, first off, it is a mix between first and third person. Will is in jail waiting to be hanged, and is retelling his story of how he came to be in Rhi Bran’s band to the scribe, Odo. The first person parts are glorious because they feel real. They didn’t feel like the author telling a story, they felt like Will Scarlet telling the story, dialect and grammar issues and all. That’s the way I like first person to be handled, and not many writers handle it like that. He also took the time to continue giving us the occasional chapter in the antagonist side of the field. With this book we finally see the Sheriff De Glanville who is actually perfect, like, he was great I approved a lot. We see more of Guy. Also we get great Guy and Sheriff interactions (you don’t understand I’m a huge fan of the BBC show where that was literally half the plot…) and we got less of the barons. Also, at this point I’ve figured out which baron is which, so it was drastically less confusing than the last book. I just felt like this one didn’t drag. I mean, not to say that Hood did, because it didn’t. But Hood was really meticulous in setting up the story and being as accurate as it could be. Because the setting and everything has already been set up, Scarlet was able to thrive without being weighted down with any extra exposition. It was just great and fun and I love how he’s handling this adaptation more and more. Like, for example, the bard Angharad obviously uses pagan practices, but this is the point in history where Christianity was sweeping Briton, and so the intertwining between her Christianity and pagan practises is handled really really well. (note that Stephen R. Lawhead is literally the only Christian writer I truly enjoy). It wasn’t belittling or anything and personally, as a Christian girl who takes a deep rooted interest in pagan culture I really appreciated how it was handled. Like, Angharad’s pagan practices are literally some of the most important plot devices of the story, so it’s not like they’re a side thought. They’re important. Also, he’s dealing with the idea of how every side believes that God is on their side. Which, I dunno, is one of my favourite things because it’s so accurate. Especially in this time of history. I do know that one of my main concerns was that we weren’t going to get enough of Bran because all of his POV chapters are now gone. Thankfully, these concerns ended up not coming true. There was plenty of Bran being just a great Robin Hood all in all. Like, he’s flawed (he flies into the most vicious rages) but he also retains the roguish qualities that I feel like Robin Hood should always have (also, the name of Robin Hood was very cleverly tied in with a mispronunciation with Rhi Bran Hud - Rhi Bran meaning King Raven and Hud being an enchanter. So yes. GREAT). Honestly, this book was just great. So great. It’s such a brilliant and historically accurate revisioning of Robin Hood. Everything lines up so well.