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on 11 April 2017
The opening sentences in JRR Tolkien's 'The Hobbit' are:

“This is a story of long ago. At that time the languages and letters were quite different from ours of today.”

Baldwin has completely ignored that advice. In his discussion on the 'fayre castell' described in the Gest, he has assumed that the word 'rode' refers to a road whereas the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary(SOED), claims the word 'road' referring to a route or thoroughfare did not enter the English Language until the end of the sixteenth century. 'Rode' had a completely different meaning when the Gest was written.

In his attempts to drag Roger Godberd into the story, Baldwin has identified the 'fayre castell' as described in the Gest is either Fenwick or Wellow, and assumes the claim that the castle lies a little way into the wood, refers to Sherwood Forest. He goes on to point out neither of these castles actually lie within Sherwood. A point which he then completely ignores. He also seems to have ignored the difference between woods and forests as described in the Gest. The description of the castle contained in the Gest is so accurate and detailed that it is unique in the country, but it is certainly none of those identified by Baldwin, nor even by Holt nor Bellamy for that matter.

If Baldwin had correctly identified the castle and referred to the SOED ,he would possibly have realised the location referred to as Verysdale was not Wyresdale, but was in fact Wensleydale, and and he would also have realised why Sir Richard was unable to repay his debt and why he was so despondent.

The phrase “under the Greenwood” occurs in the Gest but a study of the geology of the Sherwood Forest area indicates that the soil is too acid and dry to support many large trees such as oaks, and as a result the natural vegetation consists mainly of heathland. That is generally clumps of heather interspersed with gorse bushes and silver birch trees and with only the occasional bigger tree. The word greenwood therefore can only apply to Barnsdale. It is quite difficult to get under a clump of heather.

The Gest identifies the poor knight encountered by Robin on a 'dern strete' as Sir Richard at the Lee. Baldwin follows Holt's lead in assuming that lee refers to the name of a village whereas in at least nine other ballads the phrase 'at the lee' or 'over the lee' clearly means land which has been left uncultivated for two or more years.

The above comments and many other similar ones, cast serious doubts on the reliability of the book as a whole.
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on 9 November 2010
I have read a number of recent publications on Robin Hood and David Baldwin's book is certainly one of the best. Baldwin's book is history, not literary criticism, and the author's lucid written style makes this an enjoyable book to read. Throughout the author is concerned to place the Robin Hood story into its proper historical context and, indeed, it is a failure to do precisely this which mars most of the recent publications on Robin Hood. Baldwin provides his reader with an empathy for the period during which the Robin Hood stories developed thus allowing the evolution of the myth to be placed in the context of real history. Baldwin offers the reader his personal view on who the original Robin was though his choice inevitably boils down to little more than speculation on his part.

David Baldwin's book is well worth buying and makes an excellent foil to Jim Bradbury's book on the same subject. Indeed, purchase these two books and, unless you are really keen, you probably won't need to bother with any of the others.
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on 9 June 2013
A very interesting examination of the historical evidence about Robin Hood and the general political and social background or the era in which those events were alleged to have taken place. It's scholarly but readable. I learnt a lot about a period of English and European history that I didn't know very much about, ranging from the Crusades to the number of rebellions and problems with the English monarchy over around 100 year period.
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on 11 May 2010
It might reasonably be said that the legend of Robin Hood suffers from a glut of ill-informed if entertaining 'popular' renderings of the tale. To remedy this Baldwin's book sets out to discover whether there is a discernable historical character or number of characters upon whom the story of Robin Hood as we now know it is based.

To say that this book does so well is an understatement. It is clearly well researched (this will not suprise readers of other books from Baldwin's stable!) and in contrast to many historical treatments of popular topics held my interest throughout. I would strongly encourage anyone interested in this historical character, or even in Medieval society at large to give this excellent work a look.
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on 5 April 2014
This book is a gem as it touches on on many aspects of the legend, with avenues and angles that have never been explored. Until now. Having distant relatives both alive and deceased helped with searching out many of the leads and clues that have been overlooked in many other published books. Highly recommended for not only the scepticts'?, but also the well read questors and avids.
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on 22 March 2013
I began this book expecting to encounter a theory based largely on speculation, but I was pleasantly surprised. The author has identified so many similarities between Roger Godberd and the Robin Hood of the earliest ballads that there must surely be a connection - even if the stories have been embellished over the centuries. Well worth a read.
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on 21 July 2014
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on 8 July 2015
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on 12 August 2010
I would have liked to have seen more about Robin Hood in this book. The hardback seems quite short, stopping at page 176, not counting bibliography, illustrations, appendices , notes and references which pad it out rather a lot. The illustrations are very nice, and the photography is splendid.

The book starts well, beginning with an interesting read about Robin Hood and his gang. Sadly, between page 83 and page 166 the book barely mentions Robin and Co at all. The first or last paragraph of a chapter might mention Robin Hood in passing, but this half of the book predominantly read like a dull history lesson about medieval politics, barons, kings and wars.

If you are looking for a book on medieval history then this half of the book will appeal to you. The author appears to know the subject inside out, although I did feel he was putting forth his judgements about historic figures at times. After having read through this large section I was bored, it reminded me of tedious history lessons at school when we were forced to memorise dates of battles etc.

In summary, this book felt like a text on medieval history had been sandwiched inside a few chapters about Robin Hood. I wondered if a marketing gimmick about unmasking Robin Hood was used as a way of selling the book to the masses. I was glad to get to the end of it.
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on 28 December 2011
I think that i was expecting more than i actually got from this book. I was incredibly dissapointed and therefore failed to complete it. I think i may have just got to half way.

Absolutly nothing to do with Robin Hood. Dull and boring!!!
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