Overall, reading a completely different take on the Robin Hood legend was refreshing and incredibly believable. Having it set in Wales, in the 11th century, under William the Red’s rule makes it impossible to find the “sameness” we see in all the other Robin Hood tales. It REALLY is a totally new take on the legend.
BONUS: At the end of each book, Lawhead outlines his research a bit, what was going on historically, and makes his case for his particular telling. He also includes a pronunciation guide for the Welsh words written in modern English. I think he did very well using the tool of read-able English in conveying the Welsh sense of language, honestly.
The only thing I noticed with these books, that wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, is that the character development builds quickly, then leaves off a bit, so you have to fill in a few holes where the characters are concerned. However, it’s easy to do, and didn’t detract from the story line in the least.
The books are descriptive, with a richness and depth that makes you believe you really are in the Green Wood (Coed Cadw).
It’s intelligently written, and makes the Welsh pronunciations possible with a guide and a simplified spelling of the word. It’s fast-paced enough to keep you turning pages, but not so involved that you can’t put it down if you need to, you know, feed your children or something. There are enough twists to make you wonder what will happen next, but you’re not always totally surprised either. I think that’s because, right along with the characters, I felt their hopes and the desperation of their plight.
The BEST thing about these books? I had no idea they were Christian fiction. None. It’s excellent writing, excellent story-telling, and many of the characters happen to be Christians. Some are essentially Pharisees. Others doubt and question God. Others have a stalwart, unshakeable faith that is believable in the context of the times, and within the framework of the Catholic church. There is no “preaching,” or crow-barring the Gospel in order to be able to slap the Christian label on it. There are only realistically portrayed characters with real faith, hypocritical faith, doubts, struggles, and more.
Loved this about these books.