Book - 2006
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Robin Hood: The Legend Begins Anew

For centuries, the legend of Robin Hood and his band of thieves has captivated the imagination. Now the familiar tale takes on new life, fresh meaning, and an unexpected setting.

Hunted like an animal by Norman invaders, Bran ap Brychan, heir to the throne of Elfael, has abandoned his father's kingdom and fled to the greenwood. There, in a primeval forest of the Welsh borders, danger surrounds him--for this woodland is a living, breathing entity with mysterious powers and secrets, and Bran must find a way to make it his own if he is to survive.

Steeped in Celtic mythology and the political intrigue of medieval Britain, Stephen R. Lawhead conjures up an ancient past and holds a mirror to contemporary realities. Prepare yourself for an epic tale that dares to shatter everything you thought you knew about Robin Hood.

Publisher: Nashville, Tenn. : WestBow Press, [2006]
Copyright Date: ©2006
ISBN: 9781595540850
Characteristics: 490 pages : map ; 24 cm.


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May 02, 2015

Hood was a great novel to follow up The Fool's Tale, as it's set in Wales around the same time frame, so I had a context for the political backdrop. Which is not necessary to enjoy the book (and it does a fine job setting up the political turmoil). The book also has a pronunciation guide in the back, which was also helpful.

So this is, obviously, a retelling of the Robin Hood myth, except it's pretty plausible. Robin in this case is Bran, a hotheaded Welsh prince. And the backdrop is less Sheriff of Nottingham and more Norman/Saxon/French overlords seizing the property and lives of Britons. It is definitely historical fiction that borders on fantasy, as there's deeply furrowed mysticism (which makes me want to read ancient Briton mythology) that plays a crucial role in character development.

This also mostly follows Bran becoming the man he's destined to be, before he's the known outlaw, and before the appearance of an Allen a'Dale or Will Scarlet character (although Little John, Maid Marion, Guy of Gisbourne, and Friar Tuck are all in this story). The next book in the series is title Scarlet, so I suspect those other iconic characters will make their way into the narrative that way.

In all, it was enjoyable, both for the recognizable elements of the classic tale, and for the story of a hero coming of age. And because I'm developing a keen fondness for all things Cymry.

I recommend it for fans of historical fiction, especially during the medieval era, especially England and thereabouts. Also for fans of magical realism and mysticism, and ensemble casts.

JCLJaredH Apr 22, 2013

Robin Hood in Wales? No Sherwood Forest? I almost called this story blasphemy, but Stephen Lawhead makes it work. All of the familiar characters are there, but with a definite twist. The mixing of Welsh mythology and Christian undertones brings a mystic quality to the story that makes it hard to put down. A great read for fans of Bernard Cornwell and Mary Stewart.

Jan 08, 2007

I had never heard of Stephen Lawhead before coming across this title at Costco, where the cover and title at once grabbed my attention. I was intrigued by the fact he set the story in Wales, and learned things I did not know about the primeval forest that was there. As to the story itself, A in my book. Good characterization and flawless pacing. Now one reviewer on Amazon thought it bogged down in the middle, and another thought the whole first half was something to be got through, but I had no such reaction to this work. He has managed to take the Robin Hood myth and make it feel brand new, and leave plenty to unfold for future volumes -- I, for one, can't wait for those!


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