Lawhead (Byzantium), known for his historical and fantasy fiction, reimagines the tale of Robin Hood in his latest novel, the first in the King Raven Trilogy. Based on detailed research, Lawhead places the folk hero (whom he names Bran) in Wales in 1093, at a time when the land was under constant assault from the new Norman rulers of England. When Bran's father, the king, is killed in an ambush along with nearly all his warriors, the land of Elfael is overtaken and its citizens subjected to great oppression. Though Bran should be king, he has lost faith (in both himself and whatever God he once knew) and decides to flee instead. Through agony and adventure, aided by a ragtag group of colorful characters, his sense of justice grows, along with his commitment to leading the people of Elfael and his creative strategies for dealing with the enemy. Lawhead examines questions of faith from both sides of the conflict, so readers see Welsh monks praying for deliverance and Norman rulers asserting their divine right to the land. The story's tone is uneven by turns sweet, violent, and funny and it gets a bit bogged down in the middle, but overall it's a fun read that will leave readers anxious for the next installment. (Sept. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.