on 15 April 2010
If you're into zombie tales, you'll love this book. If you're a Robin Hood fan, you'll love this book. If you adore Chaucer, you'll love this book. If you're a fan of zombie tales, Robin Hood, and Chaucer - you must have already read this book, because before Paul Freeman wrote this work, I doubt if such a fan existed. This is cross-genre writing with a vengeance. I came to it as a Chaucer fan, who remembers liking Robin Hood as a child, but who has never had much to do with zombie tales. I found in this astonishing work the spirit of Chaucer living on: immaculate iambic pentameter rhyming couplets that never falter and therefore become invisible; great wit; great storytelling; vibrant characters; fabulous drama. I also relived my childhood enjoyment of the tales of Robin Hood. I won't give away the ending here, but will just say it's genuinely moving and is told with authenticity and a clear love for the traditional tales of one of England's best heroes. As for the zombies... `She pulled him from the gore-bespattered mound, / Where strugg'ling for his life upon the ground / His body was immobilized by hands / Which soon plucked out his guts in glist'ning strands.' Horror fans will not be disappointed. This stuff rocks.
on 18 December 2009
Yes, it takes courage to recreate a Canterbury Tale, include Robin Hood, Friar Tuck ... and Zombies! It actually takes guts AND a lot of talent.
Paul A. Freeman has both, but most important he has the talent to 'translate' Chaucer's language into the language we all understand and which is real fun to read.
If his higly original version of the Canterbury Tales were to be used in schools, I think young people would go for them, really go for them, and probably love Chaucer's Tales (as much as they'd love Paul A. Freeman's, because I happen to know there's more where this one came from).
I am no longer a child and at my age should frown at the sacrilege of 'using' Chaucer's famous Tales. I don't and I can only recommand this hilarious, but brilliantly written Tale to one and all.
Highly recommend it.
Robin Hood and Friar Tuck: Zombie Killers
A Canterbury Tale by Paul A Freeman
Good Robin Hood, while robbing in the wood
came upon the noble Friar Tuck. Good
fellow sayeth he, you're just the chappie
to help me rid the land of its unhappy
state of monsters and of beasts that although
dead still rise to prey upon the morrow.
For such a tale as this is rarely seen -
a Canterbury tale too long has been
missing from the library shelves and shops
the favoured tale of Robin and a box
of ill matched merry men, assorted foes
with or without a complement of toes
Why, I beg - nay, urge - you all to purchase
this splendid tale of zombies set in Sherwood
Paul Freeman's book, indeed, one of a kind
(and his couplets leave mine far behind)
I bought my own copy and was not paid, remunerated or
otherwise cajoled to give a favourable review. I liked it
all on my own.
on 23 December 2009
This is a book to catch the eye before one even reads the contents - a seemingly bright and shining cover but the figures look lost and their eyes are downcast and the background is black and the shinings are eyes in the dark. And the title - `Robin Hood & Friar Tuck' - straightforward enough but `Zombie Killers' - whatever is this? `A Canterbury Tale' - where are we, what era, what place? We are lost.
But being lost in a book like this is no bad thing but a feast for imagination and thought. The joy of it, for me, is not so much in the narrative, though neat and original, but in the richness and variety of language. Paul Freeman has a keen ear for the Chaucerian mode he has chosen and for the authenticity of the setting - we have `candles in every sconce' `autumn leaves upon the Sherwood breeze' `features bronzed and burnished by the sun/as brown as is an Easter hot-crossed bun' We also have a deft and deliberate use of colloquialisms and modern idioms - the villainous Sir Guy says `So therefore I suggest that five per cent/To each of you won't make too big a dent/In what's required to house and clothe and feed/my family' and the miller's son `spotted movement underneath a ton/Of zombie flesh, then searching for his goal/Cast some remains aside and made a hole/(An action that was ill-conceived and dumb)/In hopes he might resuscitate his mum.'
Much of the vitality in this story comes from the juxtaposition of horror and humour. A zombie emerges from behind a door `with chomping jaws and ravaged face/Its arms extended, hoping to embrace/Guy's greedy spouse to feed upon her meat./Before the shambling figure could deplete/Her tender flesh, I swung my trusty sword/And where a head once sat, a geyser poured/Into the air and dyed the chamber red.'
So how is the reader to interpret this fascinating, mind-boggling narrative? As a romp through the genres? There is plenty to explore in this medieval world under threat from the zombie un-dead. As a social comment? There are beggars in poverty here, folk who `writhe in hunger' coupled with the ruthless exploitation of material resources by those who don't care or even notice. Maybe the fear and the blood and the `deadly force' are symbols for terrorism and war where it doesn't matter `if the number of deceased/Amongst the civil populace was high.'
There is plenty of choice. This is a book for pleasure and for quests.