by Wilson Harp
Verdict: Good - a solid book.
A retelling of the Robin Hood tale in which Robin Hood is an invention of the Sheriff of Nottingham in order to protect his people and himself.
Robert Brewer is the current Sheriff of Nottingham, but with King Richard's recent death, he will likely fall out of favor and lose his position. In order to make a better future for himself, he's orchestrated the theft of tax money under the guise of a bandit attack. Things quickly spiral out of control as King John sends French knight Sir Guy to find these fictional bandits and bring them to justice. Robert and his allies must maintain the fiction and trick the knight or else hang for their crimes against the new crown.
It's a believable retelling of the Robin Hood tale. I found Robert Brewer a likeable guy. Even though some of his motives are selfish, I found myself wanting to see him succeed. Jack, his right-hand man, is also a sympathetic character. I like how his ingenuity and clear understanding of the situation surprises Robert at times.
I didn't find Maid Marian all that interesting, however. She's just a bit too silly and ignorant. Girlish, I suppose.
The story was slightly confusing in that there are two characters named Robert. Robert Brewer, our main character, the sheriff, who secretly loves Marian, and Sir Robert of Locksley, who is Marian's betrothed, although he's been away for half a dozen years and is unlikely to return. Mairan still pines for him, contributing to her youthful ignorance as a character flaw.
I think what's most interesting is what the author did with the other characters present in the folktale. Friar Tuck, for example, unwillingly knows all about the plot because he is the town's confessor. He does not like it, but due to religious teachings, he cannot use the knowledge earned under confession to turn them in. Little John and Will Scarlet are German knights who knew Sir Robert of Locksley when he went on a crusade. They join up in the plot because they don't want to return home so quickly.
Sir Guy was written specifically to be unlikeable, and I have mixed feelings on him overall.
A final, minor complaint would be the modernized language the characters use, but that's up to the reader's personal taste.
A copy of this book was provided in exchange for a review.