Thomas Nelson, Feb 2009, $26.99
In the late eleventh century they fled to the forests of the March from the invaders who routed Rhi Bran y Hud and his loyal Grellen fighters from their home Elfael; William the Conqueror gave their land to Abbot Hugo. Although the forest outlaws have become a powerful force due to their skill with the longbow inside the dense forest, they know they are losing the war outside the March. Hugo accompanied by traitorous Guy of Gysburne and their ferocious Ffreinc barbarians assault Bran’s subjects with a brutality never seen before as women and children are expendable to this ruthless horde.
Robin and the Grellen feel helpless while their loved ones are being butchered. They know they must confront a much more powerful enemy not as outlaws hiding behind trees in the forest, but as a freedom fighting force. Bran has strong allies like Will Scarlet the forester, Angharad the seer, Merian the warrior and especially the diabolical Friar Tuck. Leaving Will and the seer behind with the Grellen inside the March to continue the guerilla tactics, Bran and Tuck leave the forest to rally the collapsing Ffreinc forces under the rallying cry of the return of the heir. At the same time Lady Merian learns her father is dead and her brother is a puppet married to the enemy. Their efforts look even more hopeless than when they started the end game.
The final tale of the King Raven trilogy (see SCARLET and HOOD) is a terrific finish to a great retelling of the Robin Hood legend. The story line is fast-paced keeping the sense of desperate franticness that the heroes face while their people are being butchered. Fans of the saga will relish Stephen R. Lawhead’s excellent rendition but should first read the previous books to obtain a better understanding of what inspires Bran and his loyal teammates to keep on going though they are dispirited and confronting overwhelming odds to become living legends instead of dead outlaws; as even the myths are written by the victors.