Outlaw (Outlaw Chronicles) Paperback – 23 Jul 2009
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A lively and enjoyable book (Daily Mail)
A tale well told via the thoughts of a flawed hero...not a read for the squeamish (Nottinghamshire Today)
An historical epic in the vein of Bernard Cornwell and Conn IgguldenSee all Product description
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Most reviewers, and in fact the subtitle of the book ("Meet the Godfather of Sherwood Forest") have insisted in his outlaw and robber side. However, the parallel with Marlon Brando or All Pacino's incarnations of the Godfather has its limits. This is largely because, unlike these modern criminals, Robin of Locksley was also fighting what was a kind of civil war against the supporters of John which is superbly illustrated by the battle of Linden Lea (towards the end of the book, of course, because this is the book's climax).
It is also because he was "outlawed", a Germanic legal concept that existed in Anglo-Saxon England, in the Danelaw (where the outlaw was called a "nithing" if I remember correctly) and in Normandy after 911. An outlaw in Anglo-Norman England was, quite literally, "out of the law", meaning that he had not protection to expect from the law, could be killed by anyone without any fear of punishment and anyone who helped him would be punished for it. In the Duchy of Normandy and the Kingdom of England, being outlawed implied confiscation of a lord's lands, who was therefore left destitute, and exile, if this lord or knight wanted to save his life. If he didn't chose exile and could not obtain pardon, then predatory banditry was the only other option to survive. This is what Angus Donald shows so well in this book.
Another point that Angus Donald makes very well is the connection between Robin Hood's behavior as a ruthless outlaw out for his own profit and his need to provide for his followers, by fair means or foul, ras any feudal lord was expected to at the time if he wanted to retain his followers and therefore his power and standing as a warlord. This connection, which will appear time and again in the next volumes as well, is also one of the strongest point s of the book in my view. To a large extent, these appear as the two faces of the same coin and this also makes the story that much more plausible.
Finally, the historical context is also very well portrayed, with the story in this first volume of five taking place in the last couple of years of the reign of the ageing Henry II, as his son Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, fights against him and side with the King of France, Philippe II (also known as "Augustus" thanks to the spin of his personal chronicler), while John, his last son, is also out for himself. The atmosphere of "fin de règne", uncertainty and increasing lawlessness that such a period must have seen is also very well rendered. Even the story telling, from the perspective of an aged Alan Dale, is interesting, if not original, in showing the mixed feelings that this version of Robin Hood could elicit from some of his followers, although these might also have had less than a "snow-white" background themselves (Alan Dale had to become a cut purse to survive after the hanging of his father).
Anyway, this is a superb start to a new series that I strongly recommend and also a five star read that I have just picked up, read again for the second time, and enjoyed even more than the first time.
But he is not an evil man in my estimation, and does what he has to do to make sure he and his colony of outlaws survives and remains strong. He is loyal to his colony and his loved ones
Alan Dale is caught having stolen a pie and is likely to be tortured and hung. He escapes his fate and is accepted into Robin Hood's band.
He is sickened by Robin's torture of an informer but soon becomes toughened and is trained as both a warrior and a troubadour.
When the household and village he is training in is put to the torch and its inhabitants, men , women and children massacred, at the hands of the psychopathic Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Ralph Murdac, he swears revenge.
Scenes of murder, torture and death in battle not for the feint hearted.Strongly raunchy sex scenes including Alan's loss of his virginity to a gorgeous young red headed prostitute.
Robin hood in this series is a pagan who hates the church He engages in pagan rights, that can be brutal (but no more so than the witch burnings and tortures by the church it needs to be said) His great love is for the noble woman Marie Ann
Great character development. Thrilling captures the sights , sounds and smells of 12th century England
Unforgettable characters include the Welsh rogue monk, Brother Tuck, the super strong hulking and fierce Little John, and the erotic and skilled Irish pagan priestess Bridget
One of the best Robin Hood novels out there without a doubt.
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