- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 1080 KB
- Print Length: 544 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Abaddon Books (22 Sept. 2013)
- Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00FDUDYLY
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #385,797 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Knight of Shadows: A Guy of Gisburne Novel (Hunter of Sherwood Book 1) Kindle Edition
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In my case it was the latter. I had gone in with the assumption that this would simply be a re-tread of standard Robin Hood myth but with the Hood and Gisburne roles reversed. Instead what I discovered was an intelligently plotted story that not only handles the role-reversal element cleverly but also provides many other less expected twists on the traditional stories of Hood and his Merry Men.
The biggest of these is the fact that Hood himself, although always looming over proceedings as a distant threat, actually plays a very small direct part in this first Hunter of Sherwood novel. It would have been so very easy for Toby Venables to simply have pitted his heroic Guy of Gisburne against Hood in a rushed, one dimensional adventure and thereby quickly satisfied reader’s expectations. Instead he takes the bolder but ultimately more satisfying option of sending his Gisburne off on an adventure seemingly unrelated to Hood, thereby allowing this version of Guy the time to develop as a character in his own right and to introduce us to the wider version of the medieval world that both he and Robin inhabit.
For make no mistake, Venables hasn’t simply flipped Hood’s and Gisburne’s roles around whilst leaving all the other familiar elements in place. Nor has he just plonked them down in an unrealistic Prince of Thieves or Errol Flynn version of Ye Olde England. He has gone to the trouble of reinventing all the supporting characters we are familiar with, from Friar Tuck (here named Took) to Prince John to the Sheriff of Nottingham, and placing them within a portrayal of medieval Europe that feels all too real and historically accurate.
The result is a novel that defies expectations and feels genuinely original in nearly every respect. It also manages to be by turns exciting, dramatic, romantic, complex and unpredictable. Having read this first adventure of Guy Of Gusburne, Hunter of Sherwood I would immediately have gone out and bought the second had I not been fortunate enough to have bought the Omnibus edition containing Books 1 and 2.
So as we follow Guy on his mission we also get his backstory which positions who he is and helps us to understand his character and decisions. This was great fun and deserves a wider audience, I hope to see more in the series.
Its got some great action, wonderful turns of phrase and takes the reader not only on an adventure but gives them something pretty damn special all in. Add to this sharp prose, great dialogue and of course a lead character that you can really get behind all round gives you something pretty damn special. Thank you Toby for a great read.
Being from Leicestershire (a stone’s throw away from Nottinghamshire) I have a great fondness for Robin Hood and his adversaries (Prince John and Guy of Gisburne). So, naturally, when a novel popped up on bookbub displaying Robin Hood as a traitor and Gisburne as a hero, I jumped at the chance to get stuck in to this different spin on the classic tale. And I’m very glad that I did.
From the get go, the story moves at a good pace and the author uses good language to convey the historical setting. Nothing worse than a historical fiction with modern slang. Thankfully there’s none of that here. Has a very authentic feel. This is helped along by the fun writing style Venables possesses.
The characters are very well fleshed-out, sometimes painfully so. As good as the backstories are, Venables does have a tendency to make the flashback periods detailing past events last far longer than perhaps they should and, on occasion, far longer than pieces set in the present. These parts can make the piece feel as if it is a bit hard-going, but I often found that, after getting through it, it was worth it. A lot of the fleshing is done in the form of quotes from Guy’s old mentor (Guilbert de Gaillon) who seems to have a quote for every possible thing a knight may face. And why not, the man was a knight for many years, makes sense that he would have faced the same troubles. These little quotes add something great to the piece. Little nuggets of wisdom.
One gripe I do have is the amount of typos/spelling mistakes in the first five percent of the novel. They are scattered throughout the book, but the first pages are what an author (I know this from experience, being one myself) sends out to a prospective agent or publisher, so you really would expect them to be airtight. Makes it feel sloppy when it happens so frequently. Another thing that gives it a bit of a sloppy feel is the author’s lack of understanding of how to use hyphenated words. For instance a character was almost ‘half blinded’ instead of ‘half-blinded’. I am probably just being very nit-picky (see, it really isn’t hard to hyphenate) as these were the things that were highlighted to me (in painful detail) when I first started submitting to publishers.
Fear not, the negatives are almost over. There is but one more I feel the need to raise: the author’s continuous use of a certain way of dumping enemies into the plot. I lost count of how many times the main characters stop due to ‘Templars blocking their way in the road’. It’s not just me that seemed to notice. One of the characters literally says: “But of course, bunch of Templars on the road. About time we had that again.” I know the author was probably doing it for the comedic effect, but it just came across as uninventive. Thankfully, the ways the characters deal with the situations do differ. So it still makes these enjoyable sections.
I don’t often think this when reading books; but with ‘Knight of Shadows’ I genuinely think it would translate excellently to a television show. The action scenes almost remind me of the Musketeers (BBC TV series) in a way due to the high-octane pace of the fighting etc … The backstory parts would also work tremendously on-screen. Added to the fact that it is very vivid and, in parts, graphic, you have a cracking TV show.
Even with all the negatives I have mentioned, the story is well worth your time. It is an enjoyable, fast-paced, thumping good read. For those who like your violence on the more aggressive end of the scale, it has that in spades. Especially near the end. It is quite easily one of the more exciting endings to a novel I have read in years. Genuinely loved the ending. It is, in fact, the ending, along with the enjoyable writing style and solid story, that saves it from the negatives and pulls the score up to a 4 out of 5.
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