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3.9 out of 5 stars41
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 9 January 2004
"The Black Arrow" is an exciting adventure story set in the 15th century England, when the houses of York and Lancaster fought against each other for this country's throne. Richard Shelton has to decide whether to ally with his treacherous guardian Sir Daniel Brackley against the fellowship of The Black Arrow, or try to rescue his beloved Joanna Sedley, who Sir Daniel has kidnapped. We follow young though brave Dick through towns and forests, across rivers and into hidden passages. Danger and adventure that don't slacken once in the whole novel plus a generous quota of love make "The Black Arrow" a book to be enjoyed by everyone who appreciates the fruits of a great imagination such as was Stevenson's.
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on 24 August 2010
So, you've read 'Treasure Island' and 'Kidnapped' - why not complete the set and read Stevenson's other adventure story 'The Black Arrow'? Except for the fact that it is not up to the standard of its predecessors

'The Black Arrow' was hastily written to commission. It has pace and energy; the reader is propelled onwards by events that come on top of one another with barely room for breathing space, but all I felt was confusion. Characters are not delineated clearly, and I gave up trying to work out who was Lancastrian and who Yorkist, and the motivation for their actions.

I suppose it can be argued that in a novel of this type, all this doesn't really matter, but conventions can sometimnes be stretched just too far.

I also had a problem with the 'tushery' - the cod medieval dialogue that is another convention in this type of story (compare, for example, Scott's 'Ivanhoe' and Harrison Ainsworth's historical novels), but Stevenson lays it on rather too thickly.

There are some good things: Stevenson sets the 'look and feel' of a scene deftly and the escape and battle scenes are well done.

But I shan't be re-reading 'The Black Arrow' in a hurry.
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on 19 October 2011
I have enjoyed reading and rereading The Black Arrow for over 40 years, and for me it is the best Stevenson ever wrote. The mark of his genius is evident throughout this novel, which demonstrates that even when Stevenson was writing a serial for a children's magazine he could create a "romance" of the Wars of the Roses that would adorn the stacks of the classics for all time. The plot is unified in the relationship of the hero and the heroine, who get to know each other when the girl is dressed like a boy reminiscent of Shakespeare's delightful "As You Like It." Richard Shelton makes a promise to the girl dressed as a boy to see her safe to Holywood, which he finally keeps at the end of the novel, becoming a knight in the process. When this promise is kept he is joined to her in marriage. Stevenson, obviously fond of sea tales, treats us to adventure at sea in this largely "on land" story. The hero Richard Shelton is as masterful a creation as Richard Crookback, a charater that Stevenson himself was proud of. Surely if Stevenson had written another novel with Richard Crookback as the hero or antihero it would have rivaled his best work. To anyone who has not read The Black Arrow I would recommend reading it. Experience the adventure of "the two lads" as they make their way through Tunstall forest! You can feel the breezy weather of May, 1460 and in the end rest with them under the stars.
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on 9 April 2012
Morally questionable mayhem from the first black arrow thru old Appleyard & onward with the mounting body count inextricably linked to Shelton's "adventures". Almost every character is wracked with weakness, venality, greed & self-interest. No one sees the wider picture, no one can be trusted. Gloucester knights Shelton then puts an archer at his back to despatch him if he falters or turns coat. The disaffected outlaws are nobody's merrie men, but genuinely impoverished outcasts who kill without compunction. Random, casual & senseless murder, a welter of blood in a spiritual vacuum. Someone has clearly mislaid the moral compass.

But apart from the tedious tinkering with dialogue to misguidedly create a false idea of the language of the time (ending up sounding like Violet Elizabeth Bott) , this must be very much how life during the anarchy of the civil war of the Roses was played out. The pace doesn't let up & Stevenson has a brilliantly descriptive eye. I just can't believe this is anyone's idea of a children's adventure novel.
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on 17 February 1999
"The Black Arrow" is R. L. Stevenson at his best. With a smooth, proper style Stevenson creates complex, conflictive characters in an adventure full of emotion and thrills. For anyone who likes adventure, this novel is going to be one of his/her favorites because in this book Stevenson combines beauty with danger.
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on 9 April 2012
This story is as good as any modern adventure. It has: a real mix of characters, great descriptions and scene settings, action, shocks, mystery, and romance. The style of writing is not dificult to read so you can lose yourself in the story. The characters lead you through a time in history that is difficult to imagine, giving you an understanding of what it would have been like to live without modern comforts. Anyone who reads this book will not be disappointed.
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on 6 December 2008
A thrilling tale of love and adventure set in medieval England during the violent chaos of the Wars of the Roses.

In this dangerous world of scheming robber barons and pillaging outlaw bands, young Dick Shelton must secure his birthright and win the hand of his fellow orphan, the lovely heiress Joanna Sedley, with the aid of their mysterious ally, and his black arrows.
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on 11 January 2016
This is an old fashioned tale of knightly honour, in the hero, and dastardly works in the antiheros set in the time of the Wars of the Roses. It is also a love story of virginal sentiment. No sex please, we're Victorian. Most suitable, I would have thought, as a "home reader" for 1st or 2nd year high school.
It is however well written and I thoroughly enjoyed it
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on 12 April 2013
Who wouldn't be delighted to find the public domain list of FREE classic literature. This is fantastic. All the titles I've always wanted to read and for free - this is my kind of kindle heaven. I love the way they arrive on your kindle, they're so quick, it's like magic. Thank you public domain!
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on 8 October 2013
Remember this from my pre-teens over fifty years ago and should have left it there. It worked OK then as a simple boys' own adventure but, unlike some, doesn't last into adulthood.

It's set, unusually, during the Wars of the Roses with Ellis Duckworth as a sort of second-rate Robin Hood but in East Anglia not Sherwood. The Richard Shelton/Joanna Sedley romance simply doesn't work (probably I ignored it in my younger days!), the youth must have been a right divvy not to realise she was a girl in disguise in the earlier chapters having spent so long in her company and the episodes involving Captain Arblaster and the Good Hope are a waste of time, adding nothing to the storyline. The mock "olde English" manner of speaking is, as Stevenson himself found, just an irritation and would be better updated for modern young readers.

If you are under fourteen, read and enjoy - otherwise, don't bother.
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