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 Whatever historical references or explanations came into the story seemed necessary and welcome—they were delivered when the reader needed and wanted them.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

8 Comments

  1. I completely agree. This was a great book. I liked it very much, but did not love it.

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  2. I think you’ve nailed it, Becky. As always. LOL. However, I would have to say because of rich language and the fact that it was so enjoyable–no snags whatsoever in my opinion–and I do LOVE the character–that I at least love his story. LOL.

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  3. Ok. I LOVED it. I loved Will’s character. I had to remind myself that someone wrote this character and that he was not really narrating this.

    I loved the fresh perspective.

    I loved it and cannot wait to read Tuck.

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  4. Ok. I LOVED it.

    I especially loved the characterization. Unbelieveable.

    One day, I hope to but will not write anything like him.

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  5. The reason for the double post? I was told there was a problem. sorry…

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  6. Becky,

    Thanks for the clarification on the mixed 1st person / 3rd person. When the book started in 1st person I never imagined that he would mix the two, and so the post I put up on my blog last night was partially wrong.

    I guess he wanted to have the up close and personal story-telling approach but still not limit himself to only what Will Scarlet knew.

    VERY interesting!

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  7. Robert, as I commented elsewhere, the kinds of innovative things Lawhead did are reserved for proven authors, I think. He has a fan base that will stay with him, even when he changes from 1st to 3rd, or uses a confession narrative frame. Neither technique is encouraged in most writing books, and he pulled off both. Skillfully!

    Chris, thanks for your comment. I think his creation of Will as a likable character was key to the novel.

    Christ, thanks for your comment. I think his creation of Will as a likable character was key to the novel.

    Chris, thanks for you … 😀

    Beth, thanks for your encouragement. I know you’re a huge Lawhead fan, so I’m not surprised you loved it. I’d say I admire it more than love it.

    Christian Fantasy Addict, what about you? Would you go so far as to say you admired it?

    Becky

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  8. […] of Lyric series (The Restorer, The Restorer’s Son) Stephen Lawhead – The King Raven series (Scarlet) Tosca Lee – Demon: a Memoir Kathryn Mackel – The Birthrighter series (Trackers) Jeffrey […]

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