Friday, 16 September 2011

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

So, I've read another Robin Hood book.  I'm rather fond of Robin Hood, and it's really interesting to look at all the different varieties of stories there are about him.  I love how he, and other central characters, can be subtly or significantly recast, depending on the author, and how the incidents chosen and the era used to set the story in all alter the books to make many of them quite distinct.

This one, by Simon Green, is definitely one of the better versions I've read.  I like the opening, with Robin in prison in the Holy Land, breaking out with the aid of a Saracen, only to return home and find his father executed for devil worship and his house burned down.  I'm not entirely sure whether there was still much paganism in England at this point, but it does make a good addition to the story, and unlike in Angus MacDonald's 'Outlaw', Robin isn't involved in it at all.

All the characters you'd expect are there, from the evil Sheriff to Robin, Friar Tuck, Little John (in this one married and with children, which I don't recall seeing in the others, or at least, not as a major plot point), and with the addition of Azeem the Saracen who's vowed to remain by Robin's side until he can save his life and thus redeem himself of that debt.  Azeem may be in one of the other versions I've read, but not as a major character like in this one.

It's a good read, there's plenty of action, stirring defences of liberty, and of course the romance between Robin Hood and Maid Marion, which isn't made a great deal of.  Also, Maid Marion is nice and competent, which is always good :)

My only criticism is that it felt a bit short, and the ending almost read as if the author had been ordered to keep it under a certain word count, and had to rapidly cram in the last few bits of action in order to meet the target.  Other than that, it was certainly an enjoyable version of the legend.

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