Wednesday, May 20, 2009


King Raven - Robin Hood with a Secret Identity

by Stephen Lawhead

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Rhiban Hud, or Bran, became King Raven earlier in the series after a comment by Angharad that Bran was indeed King Raven. He kept up the persona as a way to hid his identity and to strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. King Raven represented a dichotomy of sorts. To those he fought against, and who cheated the poor and weak, King Raven represented a dark spirit who struck swiftly and silently. To the poor and needy, King Raven represented someone who fought for them and brought aid to fill their need.

I liked the King Raven idea. Like superman's secret identity, King Raven was the mysterious persona Bran became when in costume. This is in stark contrast to the old Robin Hood versions where Robin and his Merry Men ran around in bright green tights. The black King Raven headdress blended well into the shadows of the Welsh countryside. Bright green leggings just don't strike me as very good camouflage, even in a tree filled forest. The black costume may have represented unvoiced fears of the opposition. Bran's costume allowed him to appear suddenly, as if from thin air. Bran's haunting call echoing through the forest must have struck fear in his enemies. The description reminded me of a trumpet of judgement from Revelation.

A king must have the wisdom to follow wise judgement. Thanks to the counsel of Tuck and Angharad, Rhibran made wise choices. Thanks to fervent prayer, Tuck and Angharad gave Bran wise advise. Robin follows this advice, and leads the group to many small victories. King Raven also represents the two sides of man's choice. He would follow God's word, but a wish for expediency tempers his action. Bran sees peace only after a great war is fought. Tuck sees the potential for peace through personal contact with the enemy. Even after failing more than once to reach a peaceful agreement, Tuck doesn't give up hope but continues in his attempts.

This encouragement to continue in what is right, though things don't work out, is a theme that runs through the story. Don't give up hope in following the right path, instead persevere for one day all will receive the reward they have earned.

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