In Robin McKinley's retelling of the legend of Robin Hood, Robin is a complex character who wants neither to be legendary nor heroic. He finds himself declared an outlaw and a murderer, though the truth is that he meant only to wound, not kill, the man who sought to murder him. The wind betrayed him and his arrow killed his enemy. Fleeing into Sherwood Forest, he is joined by his true friends who would rather share his exile than labor on in "respectable" society under the greedy Sheriff of Nottingham. Not the least of these is Marian, who leads a double life as both one of the outlaw band's best archers, and as a noblewoman in her father's house who can keep Robin informed of the Sheriff's plans.
McKinley's characters are believable because they are full of human flaws, yet they keep their grip on an admirable moral code that makes them very sympathetic protagonists. The romance between Robin and Marian is understated to an almost painful degree, but still McKinley portrays their love as so deep and true it can't be denied. Later in the book, she introduces a parallel romance between Little John and the younger sister of Will Scarlet -- but I won't go into details because you should have the pleasure of reading it yourself. I'm so pleased this Firebird edition came out in 2002 so that more readers can enjoy it.
McKinley specializes in heroines who are as brave as their male counterparts, and in her version, both Robin and Marian are the heroes of the story. Bravo!