Great Expectations

or “My Life in Blog Sounds Much Cooler Than It Really Is”

Book Review #1 – Hood by Stephen Lawhead

Posted by mandyhuckins on March 7, 2009

The first book of the year was Hood, lent to me by my friend Becky.  As you might infer from the title, it is a take on the Robin Hood saga.  I love historical fiction; it is my favorite genre, but in addition to that, I am enchanted by the legend of Robin Hood.   The summer days of my middle school years were filled with building hiding places in the woods as well as handmade bows and arrows that helped the legend come alive in my imagination as well as those of my playmates.  I believe that I was always Robin – no matter that I wasn’t a boy.  In my mind, Robin was a girl’s name anyway.  Needless to say, this book was perfect for me. 

What I like most about good historical fiction (and this is also true of good science fiction) is that it transports you to another time and another place.  It creates a whole world, much different from your real life in which you can escape.  To that end, Mr. Lawhead does an excellent job.  His descriptions of drafty, cold castles and their roaring fireplaces make your face feel warm while leaving your backside to the chill of the hall.  The characters are not intricate or necessarily well-developed, but the sense of time and place is extremely well done.   There is a particularly fun scene in the forest where Robin’s band has set a trap for soldiers passing through with a wagon full of money.  They devise cunning tricks that make the forest appear to be haunted.  The pictures were so vivid in my mind as I read this – I could see it playing on the movie screen inside my head.

For those of us that have read many different accounts of the “steal from the rich, give to the poor” legend, this one has something a little different to offer.  It is set in Wales for one thing.  The author includes a section at the end of the novel in which he defends his decision to do this (very convincingly, I might add).  So, the story line is different enough to keep the reader guessing and yet familiar enough to have  you saying “ah-ha – here is Will Scarlet” when a likely character appears.

This was a good read – I would recommend it.

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