I want to mention a few of the CSFF Blog Tour posts about Tuck by Stephen R. Lawhead (Thomas Nelson). There are some interesting opinions and observations you won’t want to miss. Start with Fred Warren‘s excellent story summary. Then read Phyllis Wheeler‘s comprehensive review.
For an inside look into one reviewer’s process, visit Terri Main, then follower her on Twitter.
That should get you started. 😉 For the entire list of participants, with check marks that link to their posts, see God and Fiction – A Look at Tuck. On to my review.
The Story. Since I gave a summary of the King Raven Trilogy yesterday, I won’t repeat that information. Tuck doesn’t either. It picks up the story right where Scarlet left off. Bran and his people are on the run with little hope of survival or, of equal importance to them, of justice. After half his followers give up and leave, Bran seeks help from his mother’s family. A good portion of the book, and much of the fun and intrigue, comes in Bran’s efforts to win their support. Meanwhile Mérian has her own ideas about acquiring help, and in Bran’s absence, she pursues them. And how does it end? You didn’t seriously think I would tell you, did your? 😀
Strengths. Mr. Lawhead is a skilled writer. Very quickly I was absorbed in the world he created and engaged with the characters of his imaging. In the end, I thought how plausible his suggestion was, that the Robin Hood legend was based upon the history of a minor Welsh king and eventually became larger than life as an adaptation for an English audience. This kind of believability is a result of excellent research and masterful use of language. Throughout the story I had the sense that I’d been transported to another time and place.
I also loved the action. I thought the pace was perfect. I wanted to know what would happen next, but I didn’t feel like the action overshadowed the characters. I found Bran’s responses to his circumstances believable and in places even admirable. I had one moment of true grief because of one plot point.
Weaknesses. In spite of my post yesterday about how God is portrayed in Tuck, I’d have to say, I think the theme is the biggest weakness in the book. Not because it is false but because it is … weak. As I thought about the story, which I enjoyed immensely, I had to consider long and hard to arrive at any lasting meaning. Was it a story about people fighting for what they believed in, despite great odds? Or was it about giving to others in return for what they gave? Or was it about pursuing peace even when war seems inevitable?
Any of those, maybe all. But there’s the problem. In saying several things weakly, the story left me unaffected. I finished the book, left the March with sadness, but felt unchanged by the characters and their struggles. I guess I’d just like more.
Recommendation. In a heartbeat I’d encourage anyone to read this book. It is a tale skillfully told. It’s unique, yet familiar. The characters seem true to life and each has an identifiable voice that helps them come alive. Those who enjoy historical novels along with those who love mythic, legend-like stories will like this best. For those two categories of readers, this is a MUST. For all others, I highly recommend Tuck.