Review: Tuck

Blood is thicker than water. That’s why you can’t get rid of your relatives. It’s also why you can generally expect certain things from them – like a place to spend the holidays, or rent when you absolutely need it.

Or, maybe, troops to fight your guerrilla insurgency. Maybe.

In Tuck, the long war has exacted its price from rebel and conqueror alike. Now the sheriff in his town is as desperate as Bran Hood in his forest. And desperate men do desperate things.

Tuck is the concluding book of the King Raven Trilogy, and it was probably wise to send characters on adventures away from the greenwood. It allowed new characters and new places to freshen the story. At the same time, the old characters are not left to stagnate, and Bran himself fills and finally outgrows the Robin Hood legend.

In this book Stephen Lawhead shows again his capacity to surprise. He also shows his limitless attention to history, both its small details and broad realities. History makes impressive scenery for his books, but it is more than that. Here, as in other novels, Lawhead turns it to fine and sometimes startling uses.

After reading so much of Scarlet from Will Scarlet’s perspective, it was interesting to experience him in Tuck entirely from Lawhead’s omniscient viewpoint. Will was still enjoyable, yet he never reached the charm and brightness he had in Scarlet. Readers have sometimes complained that Lawhead’s characters are distant and hard to connect with. Maybe he should write more from the first-person.

As a telling of Robin Hood, the King Raven Trilogy is unorthodox, but credible enough for its purposes. Lawhead brilliantly retained the concept of Robin fighting for the true king while appearing to throw it away. He did justice to the characters of the Robin Hood legend, with the exception of Little John. Iwan (as Lawhead renamed him) was a missed opportunity.

The one complaint I will enter against Tuck is that it had a death for, I think, no other reason than to make us feel bad. Aside from that, I enjoyed the book. The characters were satisfying, and consistent even when they changed; some were appropriately likeable, others appropriately despicable. The long journey of the King Raven Trilogy came to a rewarding end, all the different elements woven together.Tuck proved a fulfilling book and a fulfilling conclusion.

And my review would not be complete if I did not add that the epilogue was a masterstroke.

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