(Disclaimer: If you purchase the book from Amazon through my link, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
This is a retelling of the origin of Robin Hood.
In this novel, Robin Hood isn’t English and his name isn’t Robin Hood. In the back of the book, the author explains his research. He writes about whether evidence supports there ever being a Robin Hood and why he thinks the legend was based on a man who originated elsewhere. In this book, the legend is named Bran, and he’s Welsh.
This change of scenery certainly brought a freshness to the old story which bore little resemblance to the traditional tale. Aside from a number of reprising characters, this story is a different one entirely. This story seems more like a historical novel than a legend, although sometimes it hints ever so slightly at fantasy with similarities to old fairy tales.
Two strengths of this novel are the plot and the setting. The setting is one I don’t often read about, and the dark forests were wild and enchanting and played well into the story. I liked how well the scenes portrayed feelings and ambiance. The descriptions are wonderfully poetic, and I enjoyed the subtle metaphors and irony along the way.
I love how you can learn so much from historical novels, and how they bring the history to life. In this book, I loved reading about the food and castles, and I enjoyed the scenes where Bran makes a bow and arrow and we get to see the whole process.
This book is long and has a sprawling feel, but the plot still kept me interested and I had no idea what was going to happen in the end. The length and amount of detail bring life to the story and flesh it out.
Sometimes, I was not fond of the main character (although, there are very few Robin Hood characters that I do like). He has a side of him that is arrogant, apathetic, and sometimes not very chivalrous. This is just my reception to the character. Not all readers will find this to be the case. In his defense, Bran does help people in need. Certainly, there are other Robin Hood versions that I don’t like either, but my favorite Robin Hood is the 1938 movie version.
This book portrays a more complex character. Situations are not so black and white, and Bran’s world is sometimes dark and violent. Bran loves his land and his people which inspires his temper whenever either is wronged. I like that he always came up with creative solutions to problems that he faced.
The supporting characters are colorful and often funny. Mérian is a dramatic introvert (when she has to go to a party, she decides to “go, like a martyr, to her fate.”) Friar Tuck is a rascal who piously decides to forgive a person after beating him in a fight.
This was a great read, an exciting adventure, and a worthwhile book. I look forward to reading the sequels and the author’s other series.
I recommend this to:
- Fans of Robin Hood.
• “Send it on your thought, and if your thought is true, so, too, will fly the arrow.”
• Winter laid siege to the forest and set up encampment on the hilltops and valleys throughout Elfael.
• Better to accept the grim reality and live than to die chasing a glorious delusion.
• Bran forged the perfect weapon in the glowing fires of his mind.
What is your favorite version of Robin Hood?