This is a pretty straightforward, but beautifully told, Robin Hood story. There are some familiar names and some I’d never heard of. It casts Robin as an accidental symbol, forced into hiding against his will and then used as a figurehead for all the local Saxons who were chafing against Norman rules and taxes. He’s hassled and stressed and doesn’t know what to do with these hopeless people who come straggling to Sherwood Forest, looking for a savior. It’s not his fault that he’s good at the practical stuff! He can’t help it if he’s a born leader! It was nice to see him grow into the legend, and to see the band of outlaws come together.
Marian is, of course, my favorite. She’s strong and fierce and fearless and smart, and basically lives as a spy, using her status as a lady to keep an eye on the world outside the forest, and being an integral part of the gang when she’s in it. Robin does the whole Spider-man “I can’t love you ’cause I’ll put you in danger” garbage, and it takes him way too long to figure out that she’s a big girl and she should get a say in this choice as well.
The characters are all great (even if I kept picturing Friar Tuck as a badger and Robin and Marian as foxes), and McKinley’s writing is always a delight. A sample from Sir Richard: “Do any of you wish to be present for the exchange of verbal pleasantries that is sure to occur when I decline to raise my gate to my impetuous guest?”
Good writing, good people, good story. What more could you ask for?