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Scarlet

by Stephen R. Lawhead
Series: King Raven Trilogy #2
425 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Steward

An exciting, fast moving story, but with bad morals.

Plot

Woodsman Will Scathlock, known to his friends as Scarlet, lies in a dungeon, injured during a failed attempt to kidnap Sheriffe Richard De Glanville. His only companion is a young monk named Odo, who has been charged by Bishop Hugo to write down Scarlet's story before his execution in an attempt to gain information on King Raven. But soon enough, Scarlet and Odo become the vital link in a plot against King William Rufus of England...

Morality

Once again the morals in this story are quite blurry. Scarlet (who despises the Normans as interlopers) seems to have no problem with joining King Raven and robbing passing Norman travellers. They also commit acts of forgery.

The Normans are not presented as good either, though they are presented as a lot worse than the Welsh. They regularly commit acts of violence against the Welsh people and steal their crops and food.

Toward the end of the book, Bran and his band are loyal toward King William Rufus, helping him to hold onto his throne by bringing him news of a plot against him. However, they only do this in exchange for getting their land back.

Scarlet does however manage to convince Odo that some of the actions of his superiors are not correct and persuades him to think for himself.

Spiritual Content

King Raven (Bran) is considered a ghost or a spirit that guards the woods.

One of the bishops in the story (Bishop Hugo) is portrayed as a vain and pompous man who is a priest more for the power than out of any religious feelings. Odo, Tuck, and the other monks are presented as believing in and fully trusting God and this is shown to be a good thing.

Characters pray and are blessed at regular intervals.

Violence

It is mentioned several times that Scarlet is to be executed and towards the end his fingers are broken. Several soldiers are killed during some of Bran's raids.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is drunk by most of the characters.

Sexual Content

Scarlet becomes interested in a member of Bran's band, but does not sleep with her until after they are married.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

God's name is taken in vain several times and the Normans are once again referred to as swine.

Conclusion

Like its predecessor, this is a very exciting read that gives you an insight into what life for the native Saxons soon after the Norman Conquest was like.

However, once again the morality issues pull the book down. Priests of the official Church are presented as mostly in it for power and money and the only real people who go against that are Tuck and some of the other monks. This a fairly accurate picture of the universal Church at that time in history, but it can be offensive to the book's Christian audience.

Also, the constant shifting between Scarlet's tale and his conversations with Odo can get quite confusing.

A good story for its age group but should not be read by anyone younger.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 2
Written for Age: 13+

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