8.02.2011

Review: Tuck - King Raven Trilogy, Book 3, by Stephen Lawhead

Tuck is the third volume of Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven trilogy. Billed as "Robin Hood - the legend begins anew," the first volume, Hood, gives re-birth to the Robin Hood of lore in a new time and a new place. Rather than keeping to the assumed boundaries of the Old English tales, Lawhead explores what he (as he explains in the afterword, titled "Robin Hood in Wales?") believes could be the true origins of the legendary thief and his band of merry men. Scarlet continues in this tradition with the introduction of William Scatlocke (friends call him Scarlet), forced from home and occupation by the Normans, who seeks out King Raven as an ally. Finally, Tuck brings the series to its conclusion.

Fortunately, Lawhead spent enough time previously on the good Friar's exposition, allowing this final volume to move along rapidly, with more fervor than its predecessors. Friar Tuck nevertheless remains integral, essential to the plot. And whereas poor Scarlet ended up causing more trouble for the Grellon, dragging them into the open more than they'd wanted to be, Tuck seems to be the balm for those wounds. The Friar, as a Saxon, as a priest, as a member of the Grellon, manages to bridge the gaps between the warring parties, bringing the story to a satisfying end with less bloodshed than one expects. 

But Tuck is not the only essential character. The Baron NeufmarchĂ©, whose actions against Rhi Bran in the first novel, is guided by his previously frigid wife, whose new love for all things Welch changes him. We're also introduced to Alan a'Dale, a character who figures in to the Robin Hood legend later than most other canon characters. Alan proves a surprising character, almost as quick on his feet as King Raven himself, and his business as a minstrel invites Lawhead to use minstrel-song as a literary interlude, as a device to tie the story securely to its epilogue. 

Tuck makes for a nice, tidy conclusion to the series. Lawhead's research is impeccable and his creative storytelling really shines through in the finale. Definitely see this series through to the end - it'll be worth it.

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