Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lisa’s Take: The King Raven Trilogy Book 2 – Scarlet (Stephen Lawhead)

I’m posting this review close on the heels of my review for Hood because I don’t want anyone to get away with reading my Hood review and thinking that King Raven isn’t a trilogy worth reading. I’ll admit that after Hood I was a little ambivalent – the story dragged in places and my own preconceptions about the characters muddied the waters of the characterizations that Lawhead was trying to establish. Still, something about the book sparked a craving for more in me, so I picked up Scarlet a week or two later.

If I hadn’t read so many other Damn Good Books last year, Scarlet would probably make my top 5 list. I really, really enjoyed reading it, and I was quite grumpy when I finished it since book 3 (Tuck) isn’t out yet. Talk about a serious turnabout from book 1!

Scarlet takes a significantly different tack from Hood. Rather than being third-person-omniscient with a penchant for POV character profiles, Scarlet begins as a story told in the first person. Our narrator finds himself imprisoned, being forced to tell his jailor anything and everything about the current terror to king and crown – our very one Hood, who else? Will Scarlet is an immediately likable character for his wit – his manner of speaking and personal touches had me drawn in within a few pages. As the story progresses we find out how Will came to join Hood’s band, and the events that lead up to his capture and imprisonment.

Like the first book, the main flow of the story sometimes jumps over to another 3rd person POV character – it was a little more jarring in Scarlet than in Hood, since it broke up the smoothly flowing narrative, but overall I think it was a necessary decision to introduce conflict and suspense into the story. By the second half of the book the disjointed views synchronize, and the change was done very smoothly.

The second best thing about Scarlet was that it introduced several new characters – and knocked off a few that I never liked in the first book, anyway. It also started to get much more into the shenanigans and plots that you expect out of a good Robin Hood story. So much more happens in the second book than the first, it’s hard to believe that they’re really related.

Anyway, if it isn’t obvious by now, I truly enjoyed Scarlet and I’ll definitely be buying Tuck as soon as its out. I hope that book 3 can continue to live up to the high standard set!

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