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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar story from an original perspective
I happened to pick up Outlaw by chance and I'm thoroughly grateful that I did. There are very few people in Britain that don't know the Robin Hood legend, and it seems everyone wants to tackle it lately with books cropping up all over the place and a new film on it's way. So, I wasn't sure what to expect from Outlaw - perhaps a jolly jaunt through the traditional...
Published on 5 Sep 2009 by R. Griffin

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Outlawed Men In Tights
A good fantasy adventure if that is what you are looking for. Fast paced with plenty of action, and all the traditional characters from the Robin Hood stories. However this is billed as historical fiction and the writer seems completely oblivious to any historical fact in this novel.

The main characters all seem to be either medieval aethiests or medieval...
Published 4 months ago by Neil Lennon


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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar story from an original perspective, 5 Sep 2009
By 
R. Griffin (Oxford, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
I happened to pick up Outlaw by chance and I'm thoroughly grateful that I did. There are very few people in Britain that don't know the Robin Hood legend, and it seems everyone wants to tackle it lately with books cropping up all over the place and a new film on it's way. So, I wasn't sure what to expect from Outlaw - perhaps a jolly jaunt through the traditional myth.

What Angus Donald has actually done with his first book, is write a story which at it's heart is a coming of age tale. The reader follows the story of Alan, a young boy just beginning to approach manhood, who lives day to day on what he can snatch with his own two hands. It only takes one ill-fated instant for his entire life to take an entirely different turn, and Alan finds himself under the protection of Robin, the outlaw lord of Sherwood. As the story develops the reader is confronted with the same conflicting notions of Robin as Alan, a boy who is both in awe of a man who has already become a folk hero and horror at the violent brutality of a man who will shy at nothing to achieve his goal.

Donald handles the Hood myth with care, introducing all of the traditional characters respectfully but in a historically believable way. He conveys the hardships of life at the time, the political turmoil and the rarefied notions of nobility despite the day to day squalor of life.

All in all, an exciting and enjoyable read. Full of vicious battles, poignant moments and a well written historical setting. It's a good début and I think both the writing and the story will improve from here. I look forward to the next instalment.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Original Take on Robin Hood, 17 July 2009
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
With Robin Hood currently being back in vogue with many authors tackling the famous outlaw, few seek to strike out on their own as well as Angus Donald as he tells the tale from Alan Dales old age as he looks back on his past as a cutpurse and soon to be outlaw. The tale is not only well written but told with a freshness that has a sense of history injected as the tale clearly shows. You can't help but be drawn into this world through the characters eyes as the brutality of the age meets the cunning of well matched chess opponents. Add to the mix a realistic sense of adventure and the promise of more to come and its definitely a book that could be used to help the Young Adult in your home cross to the world of Historical Fiction in one easy step. I'll look forward to Angus' next novel Crusader currently scheduled for a 2010 release date.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Outlawed Men In Tights, 6 Aug 2014
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
A good fantasy adventure if that is what you are looking for. Fast paced with plenty of action, and all the traditional characters from the Robin Hood stories. However this is billed as historical fiction and the writer seems completely oblivious to any historical fact in this novel.

The main characters all seem to be either medieval aethiests or medieval protestants, both concepts thoroughly alien to medieval society. Anyone claiming to be an aethiest in the middle ages would be regarded as dangerously insane, and anyone criticising organised religion to the degree they do in this book would have been executed for heresy. Records of medieval life show that they lived in constant fear of their immortal soul and did not casually renounce the church and run off into the woods in some sort of pre-rennaissance utopia.

This however is part of the problem of writing a novelisation of Robin Hood. The actual legend is little more than a popular folk song, written long after any real version of Robin Hood might have lived. Angus Donald has therefore based his book essentially on modern television and film versions of Robin, which explains the casual attitude to religion. This version of Robin Hood is perhaps more ruthless and less fun loving than most adaptations but all the other aspects of the myth are present. There are still the clashes with the Sheriff of Nottingham, and the usual members of the Merry Men are all accounted for. It's all largely based on modern ideas rather than any historical evidence about how a real Robin Hood might have lived.

Perhaps I am taking the whole thing too seriously but it did seem as if Angus Donald might have been happier writing a fantasy novel rather than a supposedly historical novel. It can be enjoyable to read if you can accept that, but to me it just seemed a little bit silly.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story - well told, 24 Sep 2013
By 
Mark Shackelford "mark shackelford" (Worthing, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
I found this thanks to an Amazon recommendation (when looking for something completely different!)

I have now read the first four in this series (Outlaw, Holy Warrior, King's Man and Warlord) with delight.
The author takes a realistic view of the life and times of one of England's more colourful legends, and imbues his stories with well written descriptions of the places that our hero visits.
There is a splendid sequence in one of the books, where the narrator (Alan Dale) is going down the Thames in a little boat and describes the various "little villages and open fields" around places like Battersea... great insights!

Plenty of historical events to hang the stories on - whether the Crusades, or the struggle between King Richard and his "dastardly" brother John (... segue into A A Milne... "King John was not a good man, he had his little ways, and sometimes no-one spoke to him, for days and days and days", sorry - don't know where that came from (!)).

This Robin is a little bit of a super-hero, always managing to escape from certain death, and having a "Hustle" [TV] style way of always having a cunning plan, which is never outlined before it happens... which adds to the fun of the stories - how WILL he manage to escape this time!

If you have enjoyed Bernard Cornwell's Authurian series then this is for you
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping from start to finish, 6 Sep 2013
By 
prestonbornlass (hibernating till summer) - See all my reviews
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What a wonderful swashbuckling read! Gruesome and nasty in places a brilliant story of battles song love and loyalty. Written at a frenetic pace, I found I read it at that pace too. Can't wait to get on to the next book in the series and yo follow the story of Alan Dale and Robin.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Debut, 21 July 2011
By 
Parm (A bookshop near you) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
I have always been a fan of Robin Hood, i suppose it has something to do with being named after him and then eventually ending up living in the back yard of the exploits of the Man/ Myth.

When this series started it was with a part groan part apprehension that i picked it up, so many times i have read the tale and its been awful prancing Nancy's in tights, and then there are the movies, inc the recent Russell "where the hell is that accent from" Crowe version.

But All of that gets thrown to the wind with Angus Donald's books, this is a different Robin Hood, this is a man who protects the poor, but at a price, this is a Robin Hood where there is still mystery and Awe, but also fear, in the same way that Pacino gave mystery and Awe to Michael Corleone and he was still feared.

Angus Donald's writing its self is excellent, tight, fast paced, descriptive without drowning in it and detracting from the plot, and the pace so well set you have finished the book before you know it.

This is a book as with the whole series you simply must buy: Its An offer you can't refuse.

Highly recommended

(Parm)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best Robin Hood story I've read for a long time, 3 Jan 2010
By 
Marcus Pailing (Bartlesnipe's Revenge) (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
I am rather annoyed with Angus Donald, to be honest: in "Outlaw" he has written the Robin Hood novel that I intended to write myself! Still, full marks for making a good job of it.

I was a bit wary of reading the book initially, and held off buying it for a while. This was because the blurb referred to Robin Hood as the "godfather" of Sherwood Forest. I feared that it would be a simplistic book, possibly even an attempt at a comic novel (which I rarely find funny); or worse, an attempt to modernise the story, recently done so appallingly badly on television.

I need not have worried, once I plucked up the courage to buy and read the book - and when I did read it, I did so in one sitting, thoroughly absorbed, which is a very good sign indeed.

"Outlaw" stands out for its historical context. The story takes place in the last year of Henry II's reign, somewhat before the usual time of the reign of Richard I, when Henry is busy in France in conflict with Richard. The young Alan Dale is forced to flee from the authorities and take refuge with Robin Hood, who rules in Sherwood, providing `protection' for the villagers of the area. The novel follows his adventures with the outlaws, how he becomes accepted by the band and grows to manhood in Robin's service. Alan is the narrator of the story, and all the famous characters appear - Friar Tuck, Little John, Will Scarlet, Guy of Gisborne - although not as such a band of merry men that we have come to know through Walter Scott, Hollywood and any number of other books, films and TV series. I don't want to provide any spoilers, however. But the main elements of the legends are all there, albeit set within a much more historically accurate context.

The history is good - the author has clearly done his homework; and he has created a largely believable retelling of the legend within the history. It has honest, visceral and believable descriptions of violence, in keeping with what one might have expected in the 12th century. There's a bit of sex, which probably isn't necessary but which is at least not badly written, and it is woven into the story well enough.

I have a few small gripes about the book: I wasn't entirely convinced by the paradoxes in the character of Robin Hood; and the element of paganism was a bit contrived, I felt. There was also a slight historical slip-up, which surprised me. But these gripes didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

There will be follow up novels (or at least one), and I will pursue this eagerly when it is published. Overall, "Outlaw" was thoroughly enjoyable, especially as I was so chary of it to begin with, and I highly recommend it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loads of scope, lack of execution., 9 Nov 2009
By 
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This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
Let's start with he following; if you are a fan of Bernard Cornwell then you will be disappointed and you will ask for your money back (as per the promotion on the front cover). On the other hand if you have never read Cornwell then this is a reasonable start if somewhat let down with some obvious and rushed plot lines. I like my historical fiction to be well researched, to draw back the curtain of the plot slowly and to develop it's characters with subtlety. Angus Donald picks a great character and period to develop a compelling series around. However, from time to time, rather than draw back the curtain slowly, he storms in and rips back the curtain of the plot as though he was bored developing a story line. His characters, language and descriptions are often formulaic and obvious; the hero is a villain, he's taught by a knight, he's quickly befriended by Robin, he suffers torment blah blah blah. While attention to detail that creates a sense of time and period is lacking and so I quickly feel as though this could be set anytime, anywhere. It's not bad, it has some entertaining moments but, as a fan of Cornwell, this is very disappointing. Will I buy the next in the series, unlikely (but that's not a 'no')..
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 18 Sep 2009
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This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
A truly great read. Its great to see Robin Hood portrayed as a villian as well as a cult hero. A more savage and vengeance seeking Robin Hood makes for a much more interesting read and probably a character closer to the man, the myth than has been portrayed in Hollywood. Although Kevin Costner suites the role of Robin of Lockesley suprisingly well, I can't see him having men mutilated to send a message to enemy and commoners alike to strike fear into the hearts of men, as Angus Donald's Robin was prone to do.

An interesting spin on a classic tale, brought to life by brilliant characters and descriptive writing taking you into Nottingham itself. I would recommend to anybody who enjoys the tale or anybody interested in Historical Fiction as the book has been well researched and flows from page to page.

Well done Angus Donald.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can not wait for his next book, 9 Aug 2009
By 
D. Harrison "El Damo" (Middlesbrough UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) (Paperback)
As an avid old english legend lover, King Arthur, Knights Templer, Robin Hood I found this book one of my favourite retellings of the Robin Hood legend... Maybe its the true darkness of the story the fact that it is more historically acurate of the 12th and 13th centuries with Pagenistics rituals, extreme violence and Robin dishing out his own source of justice and punishment.

Highly recommended can not wait till he releases the Crusades next year

Thank you Angus Donald for making me miss hours of sleep =0)
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Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles)
Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) by Angus Donald (Paperback - 23 July 2009)
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