- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Firebird; Reissue edition (May 13 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0698119592
- ISBN-13: 978-0698119598
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 259 g
- Average Customer Review: 35 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Outlaws of Sherwood Paperback – May 13 2002
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“McKinley brings to the Robin Hood legend a robustly romantic view. . . . A solid piece of tale-weaving, ingenious and ingenuous, causing readers to suspend belief willingly for a rousing good time.”—Publishers Weekly
“Readers ready to think beyond stereotypes of glorious violence will find [this] Robin a hero for our times.”—Booklist
“In the tradition of T.H. White’s reincarnation of King Arthur, a novel that brings Robin Hood . . . delightfully to life!”—Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Robin McKinley has won various awards and citations for her writing, including the Newbery Medal for The Hero and the Crown and a Newbery Honor for The Blue Sword. Her other books include Sunshine; the New York Times bestseller Spindle's End; two novel-length retellings of the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Beauty and Rose Daughter; and a retelling of the Robin Hood legend, The Outlaws of Sherwood. She lives with her husband, the English writer Peter Dickinson.
Top customer reviews
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Robin McKinley is known for her re-telling of classic stories and fairy tales. But with this novel, she has not only told the tale, she has breathed life into it. All of our favorite characters are here: Robin, Marion, Little John, Will Scarlet, Much, Friar Tuck, Alan-a Dale, the Sheriff, King Richard, etc. But there are others as well, lesser known members of Robin's outlaw band, but still having important roles to play in the outcome of the story. All of the characters come alive, familiar to us in a comforting way, yet new as well. The result is the author's success at keeping us on the edge of our seat, even though we know the basic plot already. That, my friends, is quite an achievement.
The novel covers the entire spectrum of events in this legend of Robin Hood. We follow Robin and his friends (and enemies) from the pivotal event in young Robin's life that forces him into his outlaw life, through the early struggles of survival as an outlaw, the growing reputation that the group achieves, all the way through the return of King Richard. All the familiar elements of the overall story are here. The bridge scene where Robin first meets John Little and they battle, the archery tournament that the Sheriff organizes as a trap for Robin, etc. But not all is as we remember, for the author does throw in a few twists as well. I won't detail them here lest I spoil the adventure for you, but rest assured, they only add to the realism of the day. The author's note at the end adds a bit of explanation in how she dealt with the anachronistic flaws of the legend; i.e. the fact that longbows weren't used until 150 years after the time of King Richard Lionheart, etc. But those things are minor to the telling of the tale itself.
My only negative comment concerns the ending. It just takes too long. When King Richard returns, and is forced to deal with this band of outlaws, he must find suitable "punishments" for them. This part seemed anticlimactic to me and should have been wrapped up in 2-3 pages. As it was it took more than 20 pages, and still seemed incomplete.
But in spite of this detail, the book was tremendous. It is without a doubt the best novel of Robin Hood that I have yet read and will be tough to beat. Robin McKinley is an elegant writer, witty, humorous, and marvelously descriptive with character interaction. If you are looking for a break from over-the-top fantasy epics or gritty urban drama, you will be pleased to pick up this one. Sometimes, it is simply pure joy to lose yourself in the re-telling of an old classic.
All the characters you might expect are here as well as some that are new. And in a way, that's the problem. To me it seemed as though McKinley used the standard characters because she felt obligated to, when her interest really lay somewhere else. Yes, she does a few interesting things, such as having Robin be not really so great an archer (Marian does all his stunts). But instead of looking into the implications of that and using it to move the story, she just kind of lets it lie there, gasping.
Really, McKinley's interest seems to be with two supporting characters, Little John and Cecily. Cecily, the putative sister of Will Scarlet, is a typical fiesty girl in boys' clothing character and Little John is pretty much the Little John one would expect, but their relationship and budding romace is both touching and amusing. I wish McKinley had just stayed with them, told their story within the context of the Robin Hood mythos or told the Robin Hood story through their eyes and let the rest go hang, but it seems that for some reason she didn't want to do that. As a result the book is flat and somewhat disjointed, as she jockeys between the mythological elements and the invented ones. The obligatory parts of the story seem to interfere with the progress of the book, rather than add to it. By the time I got to anything that was relatively interesting, I was wondering why I had begun the book in the first place.
_Outlaws of Sherwood_ made me long for Howard Pyle!
McKinley writes beautifully and really brings the story to life. If you're a fan of Robin Hood, or want to be I reccomend this book to you! It's really just amazing!
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