Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Title: Tuck

Series: King Raven Trilogy #3

Author: Stephen R. Lawhead

Genre: Adult Legend

Excerpt from the prologue of Tuck:

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 justiciar’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. In vain, he scratched the other hand. “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 Wintan Cestre to pay the monks so that his father would not have to spend eternity in purgatory or, worse, frying in hell.

Betrayed by an English king, a Welsh archer fights to regain his throne.

The Craft: Mr. Lawhead is a master storyteller and a master wordsmith. He has gained a reputation as one of the best Christian speculative fiction writers, and that reputation is well-earned. His craft is impeccable, both on the macro and micro levels, from word usage through overarching story. And truthfully, I as an unpublished novelist have presumed long enough to analyze that craft for flaws with my first two reviews. What are some minor head hops in light of so much else done in excellence?

Descriptions are detailed yet folded into the plot so they always feel like they advance the story, not bog it down.

Characters are complex, and while the heroes more than their share of flaws, they win both my admiration and support so that I’m thrilled with they win at last.

Likewise, the plotting is intricate, with twists both predictable and unexpected with even seemingly unrelated events feeding into the climax.

And the end! Here is a book that ends a series properly with everything a reader could hope for. All loose ends are tied up. Character arcs are completed. Tension is released. I as the reader finished the novel and series completely satisfied.

Yes, Tuck was an excellent finale to an excellent series.

The Content: Because of the focus on Friar Tuck, the religious aspect is strongest in this book. Please note my wording: religious aspect. The mention of religion does not equate spiritual threads or deep truths. Tuck does have the latter, but it comes through the filter of beliefs in that period (as it ought to). So discernment must be applied. But beyond the surface lie themes like the need to seek peace and giving mercy in the midst of justice.

Other content issues include some language, violence (most of battle), and a few cruder situations, mostly due to the time period being portrayed.

Summary: Tuck wraps up the King Raven Trilogy with plenty of suspense, excitement, and a deeply satisfying end. While I don’t recommend the series for those under 16, it is an exceptionally well-written novel, good for those who enjoy adventure and a must-read for Robin Hood aficionados.

Rating: Craft—5, Content—4, Overall—4.7 out of 5 stars

See my reviews for Hood and Scarlet, or buy the whole series from Words of Whimsy.

1 comment:

Brandon Barr said...

Good review. It's always nice when a book finishes off a series with class!