An individual in a teacup – Stephen Lawhead’s Scarlet

Scarlet jacket imageI’ve been reading Stephen Lawhead‘s Scarlet (Amazon), the second of the King Raven series. This is his retelling of the Robin Hood mythos and its very interesting.

Will Scarlet has been captured and is awaiting execution. Meanwhile his life story is being dictated to Odo and is the tale, like Hood, of a single man’s attempt to try and find a way in a changing world.

Instead of using a twee, quasi-Medieval retelling set in the Crusades whilst King Richard is away (stand up and place your dunces hats on both BBC and Disney), Lawhead places his tale in a post-Norman conquest world as the political and religious worlds are changing.  One of the constants in his work is the theme of the individual finding their way in a strange world – from the Crusades to this series. His central characters are placed within a cataclysm but unlike so many fantasies, Lawhead’s characters learn about their selves and develop. His worlds are intricately developed and reflect the major and minor turmoil therein.

This does come to the nub of his literature. Lawhead’s literature is Christian and there is an argument for a way of living a better life – surprisingly it comes from the early Christian church, rather than the better known simony and corruption of the medieval Catholic church. Within this though is an allowance for the human.

His work interests me as an atheist as its central theme is how does one live in a changing world. He makes it interesting and presents some basic choices which may or may not work out. Having presented the unwilling politician and leader in Hood, the normal person in Scarlet, Tuck would appear to be the religious climax (though it may be delayed through illness I gather).

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