Authors Steven A. McKay and Angus Donald have huge successes with their recent novels exploring new tales of Robin Hood. McKay’s Forest Lord series features Robin in 14th century England. He’s a Yorkshire lad – not of noble birth – during the tumultuous reign of Edward II. Donald writes a 12th century Mafia-style Robin in his Outlaw Chronicles. Donald’s Robin can be cruel and cutthroat – he’s already well established as the lord of the Forest when we first meet him in book 1, Outlaw, and the story is told brilliantly through the eyes of Allan a-Dale. McKay introduces us to his Robin as a teen on the edge of manhood, and we see the path he takes to ruling over the gang in Barnsdale Forest in his book 1, Wolf’s Head. Both authors’ novels are filled with action, adventure, derring-do, and plenty of blood. Swords and arrows in medieval times. Knights, outlaws, poor and rich, evil and good. What’s not to love?
NEWS! NEWS! NEWS! I’ll be interviewing Steven on my blog in a few days! Watch for that post.
Is the world ready for another Robin Hood tale? (Ahem. Mine, that is.) Blame my critique group (CP) for letting me even consider that my highly-skilled-archer-knight-Robin-like-character might be “the” Robin Hood. “Why not use Robin?” they asked. With their encouragement, a character named William became Robin du Louviers, aka Robin Carpenter, whose future will turn to helping those in need. Two young teenaged unnamed thieves, who so delighted my CPs in a walk-on role in one early chapter of Men of the Cross suddenly became Allan and Little John. Those walk-on roles and subsequent shenanigans have endeared many a reader, which has thoroughly thrilled me.
Now I will admit “the legend” does not yet exist in my Battle Scars series, which like Donald’s earliest books, takes place in the 1190s during the time of Richard the Lionheart. There are no “merry men.” No outlaws or forest lords. Robin is not even the central character of book 1. But the characters grow and change in Men of the Cross. The war affects them all; they are comrades-in-arms. Will the reader see the men they will become in their actions?
In book 2, For King and Country, the men return to England. Robin, Allan, and Little John enjoy individual story arcs tying into that of main character Henry de Grey. The king’s brother, John, is attempting to usurp Richard’s throne. Taxes collected for the king’s ransom hurt the poor. Are John and his co-conspirators diverting ransom money to their own pockets? England is on the brink of civil war. People are suffering. The Trip has run out of ale. (Okay, not really.)
Readers will meet other familiar characters from the legends – Much Miller, Will Scarlett, Tuck, and Marian. None have gone to the greenwood, but their reasons for turning to that life will become apparent in For King and Country if I do my job.
Can we ever have enough of Robin Hood? I don’t think so. Will you follow along as I tell this tale? I hope so!