CSFF Blog Tour – Scarlet, Day 2

Scarlet logoSo what’s your first thought when the central piece of art on a book cover is a hangman’s noose? Then when you turn to Chapter 1, the first words you encounter are these:

So, now. One day soon they hang me for a rogue. Fair enough. I have earned it a hundred times over, I reckon, and that’s leaving a lot of acreage unexplored. The jest of it is, the crime for which I swing is the one offence I never did do. The sheriff will have it that I raised rebellion against the king.

I didn’t

I don’t know about you, but I was hooked. With that opening of Scarlet (Thomas Nelson), author Stephen R. Lawhead had me. Here was a character I did not yet know, but he was condemned to die for a crime he didn’t commit, and I immediately felt sympathetic.

From that point, I became intrigued. The story, for the most part, is a first person recitation to a priestly amanuensis who is recording the condemned man’s “confession.” The storytelling device intrigued me as a writer, as did the frequent interruptions to show a growing relationship between the scribe, Odo, and the condemned, Will.

The effect was to give the story a bit of a herky-jerky feel, especially when occasional chapters popped up written in third person from the point of view of the antagonist. But rather than spoil the story, I felt the unique twists added dimension, and clearly, as the tale played out, were absolutely necessary.

But there was more. As others on the CSFF tour have noted in their reviews, The King Raven Trilogy upends the Robin Hood legend by re-situating it in Wales and re-identifying the central figure, not as Robin of Locksley, but as Rhi Bran a Hud—King Raven the Enchanter.

I thought the premise was intriguing, and from that point on I was soaking up the story. Hooked in the beginning, intrigued by the story. Scarlet had all the promise of a great read.

And Lawhead delivered. Mind you, it was not a fast-action thriller. The story unfolded, giving time for character development and relationships to be established.

Despite the familiarity with the Robin Hood persona, I still found lots of surprise. I felt like Lawhead steered the story away from the predictable.

Another plus was Lawhead’s command of language. His writing is rich without being tedious, clear without being pedestrian.

Scarlet, in my opinion, bled research without feeling teacherly. Whatever historical references or explanations came into the story seemed necessary and welcome—they were delivered when the reader needed and wanted them.

Simply put, the book was an enjoyable read.

But I have to pause here and consider, why then didn’t I LOVE it?

I’d have to say, for me, the story didn’t have a lot of depth. In other words, I didn’t see a lot happening under the surface—something I’ve grown accustom to in traditional fantasy.

The spiritual themes that existed seemed as clear as the political ones, both delivered in a rather straight-forward manner. Nothing wrong with that, certainly, but I don’t see anything to encourage me to read the story again and to delve deeper.

Recommendation. I’m very glad I read Scarlet. I would be poorer literarily if I’d missed out. I highly recommend the book for those who like to read, and it is a must read for Stephen Lawhead fans.

Check out what others on the tour are saying (those in bold are ones I know have posts up already—doesn’t mean the others haven’t posted, but perhaps haven’t linked here or haven’t pinged Technorati).

Trish Anderson Brandon Barr Wayne Thomas Batson Jim Black Justin Boyer Grace Bridges Amy Browning Jackie Castle Valerie Comer CSFF Blog Tour D. G. D. Davidson Chris Deanne Jeff Draper April Erwin Linda Gilmore Beth Goddard Marcus Goodyear Andrea Graham Jill Hart Katie Hart Sherrie Hibbs Timothy Hicks Christopher Hopper Becca Johnson Jason Joyner Kait Karen Dawn King Tina Kulesa Mike Lynch Margaret Karen McSpadden Melissa Meeks Mirtika or Mir’s Here Eve Nielsen John W. Otte John Ottinger Lyn Perry Deena Peterson Rachelle Cheryl Russel Ashley Rutherford Hanna Sandvig Chawna Schroeder James Somers Rachelle Sperling Steve Trower Speculative Faith Robert Treskillard Jason Waguespac Daniel I. Weaver Laura Williams Timothy Wise

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