Saturday, March 27, 2010

Book Review - Hood, by Stephen R. Lawhead

Title: Hood
Author: Stephen R. Lawhead
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 5 out of 5 arrows

One of the most fun aspects of legends is that the details get fuzzy over time. Names get lost and details get embellished. What remains is the moral of the legend, and the enjoyment of hearing the tale. In Stephen R. Lawhead's novel, Hood, we are treated to one rendition of the legend of Robin Hood. If you are looking for King Richard, Prince John, and the Sherriff of Nottingham, look elsewhere. Hood is set in the nation of Cymru (now called Wales) during the Norman invasion of the early 1000's.

In fact, Hood does not resemble the common legend at all until the last 100 or so pages. Most of this novel serves to set up the locations, characters, and events that lead to "Robin Hood"s (Bran ap Brychan, in this novel) exile and criminal deeds. If one considers this as a standalone novel, they may be disappointed with the result. Hood contains a beginning and middle, but then seems to abruptly stop. This reader thought that it could have used an additional 300-400 pages. However, we need to remember that Hood is part of a trilogy, and I am perfectly content with forgiving Lawhead for his early truncation because the "introductory" material presented in Hood is just so enjoyable.

Hood is filled with beautiful landscapes and complex characters. Bran himself is not the loveable rogue that legend has remembered, but a conflicted and - in some cases - failing hero. This makes the metamorphosis he undergoes throughout the book that much more satisfying.

The pacing of this novel (one of the biggest potential stumbling points of a novel, in this reader's opinion), is spot on. So much so that I didn't even realize the pages were turning and the chapters were advancing. The story just seemed to organically flow from the author's mind to my own, which seemed to harken back to the days when legends were passed on verbally.

Hood has been one of the most enjoyable novels that I have read in a long time. Do yourself a favor: Pick up the trilogy, find a comfortable spot, and read to your heart's content.

5 out of 5 arrows!


  1. Sold! I've been on the fence about this one for quite some time now. Thanks for the great review!

  2. Well, it seems to me that you are reading some great books. Well, I know you are because I read this one and agree wholeheartedly with what you wrote. I was amazed by how much I loved this story. I read it back in the winter of 2009, and had to tell everyone I knew about it. I loved the twist he took with telling the story of Robin Hood. If you are curious, you could check my blog for my review....look under the year 2009, I think in Feb. Anyway, have you read the other two books yet? I read Scarlet and enjoyed that read as well but not as much as Hood. I still need to read Tuck.