Tuck is Book Three in the King Raven Trilogy, in which Lawhead places the legends of Robin Hood in eleventh century Wales. Book 1 is called Hood and Book 2 is Scarlet. I posted here about Lawhead’s reasons for the change of place and time from the Robin Hood stories we’re familiar with.
For me, this change in venue works well. It releases the legend from the straitjackets it’s been bound in, while Lawhead has kept enough of the skeleton to make the story quite recognizable. One thing I love about Lawhead’s writing is that you are quickly reminded that you are in the hands of a master. Here are the opening paragraphs of Tuck‘s prologue:
King William stood scratching the back of his hand and watched as another bag of gold was emptied into the ironclad chest: one hundred solid gold byzants, that, added to fifty pounds in silver and another fifty in letters of promise to be paid upon collection of his tribute from Normandie, brought the total to five hundred marks. “More money than God,” muttered William under his breath. “What do they do with it all?”
“Sire?” asked one of the clerks of the justiciars’s office, glancing up from the wax tablet on which he kept a running tally.
“Nothing,” grumbled the king. Parting with money always made him itch, and this time there was no relief. “Are we finished here?”
Having counted the money, the clerks began locking and sealing the strongbox. The king shook his head at the sight of all that gold and silver disappearing from sight. These blasted monks will bleed me dry, he thought. A kingdom was a voracious beast that devoured money and was never, ever satisfied. It took money for soldiers, money for horses and weapons, money for fortresses, money for supplies to feed the troops, and as now, even more money to wipe away the sins of war. The gold and silver in the chest was for the abbey at Winstan Cestre to pay the monks so that his father would not have to spend eternity in purgatory, or worse, frying in hell.
“All is in order, Majesty,” said the clerk. “Shall we proceed?”
William gave a curt nod.
Two knights of the king’s bodyguard stepped forward, took up the box, and carried it from the room and out into the yard where the monks of Saint Swithun’s were already gathered and waiting for the ceremony to begin. The king, a most reluctant participant, followed.
So I’m not normally a fan of prologues, but by Book 3, I was ready to see a bit of what was going with the villains while the merry rogues were many leagues away. For once this worked for me. However, each “part” of the novel starts with poetry, which (frankly) I totally skipped. I’m not into obscure poetry in archaic voice. I didn’t miss anything important that I could tell.
Definitely not recommended as a stand-alone, but if you’re fond of Robin Hood and a fan of Stephen Lawhead, you’ll want to read all three anyway. So just do it!
Here’s what the other tour members have to say about this book:
Brandon Barr, Jim Black, Keanan Brand, Rachel Briard, Grace Bridges, Amy Cruson, CSFF Blog Tour, Stacey Dale, D. G. D. Davidson, Jeff Draper, April Erwin, Karina Fabian, Alex Field, Beth Goddard , Todd Michael Greene, Ryan Heart, Timothy Hicks, Christopher Hopper, Joleen Howell, Becky Jesse, Cris Jesse, Jason Joyner, Kait, Carol Keen, Krystine Kercher, Dawn King, Terri Main, Margaret, Melissa Meeks, Rebecca LuElla Miller, Caleb Newell, Eve Nielsen, Nissa, John W. Otte, John Ottinger, Epic Rat, Steve Rice, Crista Richey, Hanna Sandvig, Chawna Schroeder, James Somers, Robert Treskillard, Rachel Starr Thomson, Steve Trower, Speculative Faith, Fred Warren, Phyllis Wheeler, Jill Williamson