Friday, October 12, 2012

The Outlaws of Sherwood, Robin McKinley

A small vagrant breeze came from nowhere and barely flicked the feather tips as the arrow sped on its way. It shivered in its flight, and fell, a little off course- just enough that the arrow missed the slender tree it was aimed at at, and struck tiredly and low into the bole of another tree, twenty paces beyond the mark. 

I enjoy Robin McKinley's fantasy, and have been looking forward to reading this lesser-known book of her's for a while. The Outlaws of Sherwood, is, of course, a retelling of the story of the outlaw Robin Hood. As with a lot of McKinley's work, this book is a little slow to get into, but once you're in, you're hooked. I really do love her writing style, and the story of Robin Hood is a great tale. The book starts when Robin is just a young forester, hated by the Chief Forester because of his father. Robin accidentally kills another of the foresters, forcing him to go into hiding in Sherwood Forest. But his friends, Much the miller and Lady Marian, see it as an opportunity to form a band of Saxon outlaws to defeat the oppressive Normans. The book details how the band forms and gradually becomes more and more powerful. It also offers some insight into what Robin Hood is actually feeling. (Though of course, each version is different.) I enjoyed all of the classic characters (Robin, Marian, Much, Little John, Will Scarlet, Friar Tuck, Alan-a-Dale) retold in this fresh version. I liked Marian is an independent and skilled young lady.  Robin McKinley really is a great writer. The only thing I didn't like was the ending and how Richard decided to treat them. That's not what I envisioned at all. I guess it was just so different from the 1939 film.

Read The Outlaws of Sherwood:
  • if you like Robin Hood
  • if you like Robin McKinley
357 pages, 4.5 stars.

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