Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Robin Hood

At tor.com, if you’d care to listen to the first bit of a new Robin Hood retelling in audio, you can do so here.

I don’t plan to listen to it. I hate excerpts unless the full book is available. The book, slated for release in August, is available for preorder at Amazon. I’m mentioning it here because, (A) I have always loved Robin Hood; and (B) the description given at Amazon makes me both interested and wary.

When I say I love Robin Hood, I mean the original, or semi-original. The children’s version I read first set the mold; the Robin Hood presented in Ivanhoe was okay, The Outlaws of Sherwood set the new mold; some gritty version in there did not appeal to me (don’t remember who wrote it or what the title was, sorry); and no doubt there are others.

Now there’s this one: Nottingham, by Nathan Makaryk. Here’s the description:

England, 1191. King Richard is half a world away, fighting for God and his own ambition. Back home, his country languishes, bankrupt and on the verge of anarchy. People with power are running unchecked. People without are growing angry. And in Nottingham, one of the largest shires in England, the sheriff seems intent on doing nothing about it.

As the leaves turn gold in the Sherwood Forest, the lives of six people—Arable, a servant girl with a secret, Robin and William, soldiers running from their pasts, Marion, a noblewoman working for change, Guy of Gisbourne, Nottingham’s beleaguered guard captain, and Elena Gamwell, a brash, ambitious thief—become intertwined.

And a strange story begins to spread . . .

This sounds fine. I don’t necessarily object to the addition of a thief. I like thieves. Robin as a soldier is a little bit of a departure. If Guy of Gisbourne is presented as not quite so terrible, that would be okay.

But there’s also this tagline:

Nathan Makaryk’s epic and daring debut rewrites the Robin Hood legend, giving voice to those history never mentioned and challenging who’s really a hero and a villain.

Now, okay, but … is this meant to indicate that Robin Hood is a bad guy in this version? Because that would not work for me. I’ve also seen, poking around, an assertion that this is a “deconstruction of the Robin Hood Legend.” Hmm. Just how much of a deconstruction is this?

There are a few reviews up on Goodreads already.

Having read those, I’m still not sure. The word “grimdark” floated through one of those reviews. So did a comparison to Game of Thrones, which whatever, everything gets compared to Game of Thrones, but that’s not a recommendation for me. Yet, yet, yet …

From one review:

I’m still processing which characters I love and which I hate and which I both love and hate. Every time I thought I found someone to root for someone on the other side would give me a compelling reason to root for him or her. Because what looks like a necessary survival decision for one looks like irrational misfirings for another. Likewise pragmatic decisions can look cowardly and heroism can look selfish. 

I won’t give any spoilers away but there are tons of amazing twists and turns and the ending is certainly worth it. Especially the last line.

So, not sure. I’m not going to preorder it, but I’m adding it to my wishlist so I don’t entirely forget about it either. I think this is one where I’m going to want to read a sample, and then I still might not know.

Unless of course one of you reads this before I do. In that case, try to remember to let me know what you thought.

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5 Comments Robin Hood

  1. Elaine T

    I’ve seen Tor pushing this one, too. I’m wary for much the same reasons – the signals are telling me I won’t like it. It’s hard to do a good Robin Hood. (I don’t think McKinley did.) I imprinted on the same version you did, and then learned all the ballads.

    I wonder if you’d like Tim Hall’s Shadow of the Wolf which is sort of Robin Hood, with a mad forest goddess, Robin & Marion growing up, wolf berserker, blindness (IIRC) and a nasty Sheriff. The Teen and I liked it quite a bit and are puzzled by the reviews that call it grimdark. We don’t like grimdark.
    Good prophecy verse, too, that the kid really likes digging in to. Unfortunately it’s a book 1 and nothing else has been seen.

  2. Rachel Neumeier

    I don’t think McKinley pulled off tbe ending at all, but I loved the rest of the story. Thanks for the recommendation! I will check that out.

  3. Pete Mack

    I am finally discovered that T Kingfisher is Ursula Vernon’s adult fiction pen name, and immediately bought the Clockwork Boys series. Very entertaining, though the humor is more wry–and occasionally risque–than Castle Hangnail. I do like precognition that works as an allergic reaction.

    Recommended.

  4. Allan L Shampine

    I have read and liked the Clockwork Boys series but didn’t realize that was a pen name. So you say the author also writes as Ursula Vernon?

  5. Pete Mack

    Other way around, but yes. Castle Hangnail is a children’s book, but very funny. She also has two long children’s series that do not appeal to me.

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