Sunday, 17 May 2009

Tuck by Stephen Lawhead

In recent years, Mr. Lawhead has continued to set the standard in both fantasy and historical fiction through the first two books of the King Raven trilogy, Hood and Scarlet. Where Hood served as the introduction to this strange new-old world with so much of the familiar in it, and Scarlet as an exhilarating, dangerous dance in the midst of deadly enemies, Tuck now provides the conclusion to the story of Rhi Bran the Hud - King Raven - in a fittingly awe-inspiring manner.

As the title suggests, this is the book in which we get to hear more about that cheery, canny priest who's thrown in his lot with the greenwood outlaws. But this is not only Tuck's story. It's the tale of the entire forest family as they have now fully grown to become - their victories and losses, their skills and vulnerabilities, and the incredible determination of their king, Bran, perhaps familiar to you as Robin Hood.

Much has been made of Lawhead's controversial adaptation of this ancient story and the fictionalised claim that the famous archer came from Wales, not Sherwood. I don't wish to dwell on this, as the author's reasons and research fully back up the concept as well as providing a sound argument for how the tale eventually came to rest in Nottingham. Other than location, you'll meet many characters steeped in the legend - Little John, Will Scarlet, and Friar Tuck of course.

Tuck himself is a fascinating character, made all the more so by the intriguing glimpses of his daily life that we see here. A man of true faith, yet highly skilled at clouting knights with stout branches, not above a little pretense for the cause of right, and braver than most monks of his era. Many times we watch as he ventures alone to the camp of the enemy, bringing an offer of peace even though he well knows how soundly he is sure to be rebuffed. And in many of the multilingual situations found in a French-occupied England and Wales, it is Tuck who serves as translator and mediator.

Indeed, as befits the man, it is Tuck himself who owns the single finest scene in this book that bears his name. While telling any more would constitute a major spoiler, let me just say that his early-morning encounter in a quiet church with a troubled man entirely changes the course of history for the Welsh cause. I was utterly breathless. Incidentally, that was the only time we ever saw him in church. Tuck is a practical friar, to be sure, at his happiest praying under an open sky - or indeed thwacking French knights.

This is the third book in a trilogy, and I do recommend reading the other installments first - however, woven through the pages of Tuck is a rhyme that tells of what went before if you are in need of a quick refresher.

May I also take a moment here to recommend the book's soundtrack? Yes, in what is surely one of literature's most unusual ongoing connections, a West Coast USA songmaker and a Dublin bard have joined together to create a tapestry of sound for the backdrop of King Raven's drama.
I urge you to click here, visit and listen to samples of this ethereal music from the greenwood.
Perfect for browsing the other reviews listed below!

Tuck by Stephen Lawhead at Amazon -

Stephen R. Lawhead’s website -

Blog Tour Participants’ Links - please visit for more reviews:
Brandon Barr Jim Black Keanan Brand Rachel Briard Valerie Comer Amy Cruson CSFF Blog Tour Stacey Dale D. G. D. Davidson Jeff Draper April Erwin Karina Fabian Alex Field Beth Goddard Todd Michael Greene Ryan Heart Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Joleen Howell Becky Jesse Cris Jesse Jason Joyner Kait Carol Keen Krystine Kercher Dawn King Terri Main Margaret Melissa Meeks Rebecca LuElla Miller Caleb Newell Eve Nielsen Nissa John W. Otte John Ottinger Epic Rat Steve Rice Crista Richey Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Robert Treskillard Rachel Starr Thomson Steve Trower Speculative Faith Fred Warren Phyllis Wheeler Jill Williamson
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