It’s International Robin Hood Day…
And I was pondering how best to honour a Favoured Outlaw. Some time ago I wrote Some Musings about a few of the reasons Robin Hood always lurks in the collective unconscious, and I could certainly ponder further upon that, but…
Well, it seemed that to list some creative retellings of Robin’s many faces would be a far more fitting tribute. I certainly cannot list them all — nor would I choose to, in some cases 😉 — but here are some of the prose examples that have, over the years, lain very close to my heart.
Top of my list now, but at first I was hesitant to read them. Not because of the quality of writing (duh, it’s Parke Godwin), but due to the unexpected time frame. Robin Hood circa 1066 ACE? But I was young and foolish. Because why not? and yes!–Godwin took the Saxon/Norman conflict and put it where it truly belonged, with an amazing surround and strong, well-rounded characterisations… which meant, of course, they break your heart in all the right places.
Last of the Greenwood by Sharon Whitby
This one has all but disappeared, which is a shame. (Even the verrry dated cover that really doesn’t do the story justice is my old battered copy scanned in–couldn’t find it online.) I discovered Last of the Greenwood years ago whilst first researching the rest of the then-trilogy begun in Greenwode… and the dark mysticism in it was familiar, compelling… and reassuring, particularly to a young writer trying her own wierd new take on a warhorse of a legend.
The Sheriff of Nottingham by Richard Kluger
Told from the titular P.o.V., this was a refreshing take. An anti-hero, certainly, but not a shallow villain with no story of his own.
Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock
Robin is, in this book, a minor–and nicely ambiguous–character, but the Wood is the true wonder; a character in its own right, dark and magical and not-quite-friendly.
In all these examples, the prose runs from brilliant to sublime. Beautiful and evocative writing.
Of course, I also must mention the ones that lie closest to my heart.
If I didn’t care about my own characters, didn’t love and hate and suffer with them… believe in them… even more than I cherish these other examples? There would be little point to living, loving, and suffering with Robyn Hode and his covenant of the Shire Wode.
So to the spirit of Robin and his band, in all their many incarnations — I salute you!