Though I found the book to be a bit of a slow-starter, I stayed with it and it picked up. The author's historical research shows on the page and many aspects of the period are authentic (and verifiable). Having read up a fair amount on the period, I might quibble over a few details in the author's historical notes, but for the most part this book is a very fair representation of late 12th century England in the reign of Richard the Lionheart.
The author's take on Robin Hood is not wholly original: once more he is the returning crusader, Robin of Locksley, arriving to find England is not the safe and lawful land he left behind; once more he has been deprived of his rightful holdings as a baron of the realm, and once again he has been rendered unfit to seek the hand of his intended bride, Lady Marian. (That could just as easily sum up the premise of the 1950s Richard Greene Adventures Of Robin Hood TV series, the 1991 film Robin Hood - Prince Of Thieves or the 2006 BBC Robin Hood series.) There are other plot elements which seem attributable to this film or that TV show, as well, notably Robin's relationship to Will Scarlette, which puts one in mind of a similar approach taken in the 1991 film.
Having said that, Ms. Johnson creditably takes those familiar trappings and weaves new webs within them in some clever and innovative ways.
Most unusually, her Robin begins by trying to work within the system to regain his lands and titles within the law. His concern for the common people of his Hundred for whom he feels responsible comes across as believable and genuine. Robin finds a truly clever and original way to hide his people in Sherwood Forest. The author's approach to the relationship between Robin Hood and Lady Marian is not a whole new take, but it is satisfying overall. The role of the sheriff of Nottingham is fleshed out as a character with whom the reader can sympathize as a man stuck between the demands of his conscience and his job.
For the most part I enjoyed the book, particularly in its richness of historical detail. The descriptions of manorial and peasant life are effective and convincing, as are those of the setting and siege of Nottingham Castle.
If the book has drawbacks, they are to be found in the book's slow start and an ending that is just a little less than fully satisfying. At the end of the day, if the author writes a sequel, I would buy it.
Yes, we all love the dramatised versions of folklore, but this unreality often comes with many tongue and cheek moments and blatant historical inaccuracies: remember when Kevin Costner's Robin Hood walked from Dover to Nottingham in a day?! As much as I love these retellings it's the origins of these stories that really fascinate me. These much loved stories must have originated from somewhere; who might these people of been and how did they fit into our history?
Lauren's telling of this much loved tale is so refreshing. The scene setting is wonderful and the characters are well thought out and feel real, but are still the characters you know and love. I particularly loved Lauren's depiction of King Richard; he is always portrayed as far too soft and forgiving when he returns from the Crusades, but not this time! Finally!
If you're fond of the tale of Robin Hood you like this, but if you like history; you'll love it.
A really ripping yarn, written to make you feel it was all we oldies believe happened. Lauren Johnson is a natural story teller and I would recommend to any pre television era boy, as well as any lovers of histoical fiction. Ken H age 73 1/4.
"The Arrow of Sherwood" tells the well known story of Robin Hood but it's not another Hollywood version. It's skillfully written by an historian so you get realistic image of how it must have been in Sherwoon in the 12th century. The characters are well written and feel real. Once you start reading it you can't stop. I hope Lauren Johnson releases a second book soon because I can't wait for it.
....probably like many people...I was a bit skeptical reading a book about the mythical character of Robin Hood....as like so many of our legends of history...you have to dig deep into the mire before you come across a well written book..why did I buy it?....I came across the author on twitter...and she sounded genuine and appeared to have a love of history...so on a whim I bought it.....we all know the story of Robin Hood...so I won't bore you with the plot. The book was extremely well written..attention to detail on subjects was well descriptive...yet the storytelling never lost its pace,which can happen when the author puts emphasis on detail...the author got the balance absolutely spot on. Plots were realistic, and never failed to excite, the issue of social standings and what that meant..gripped your heart and made you conscience of what struggles people really had(yes I know it's mythical!)...the author displayed a talent that showed she as an understanding about how to tell a good story,a excellent command of the English language...you could also feel the love of history the author displayed throughout the book. Quite often historical novels feel like research notes joined together..fortunately the flow of words was superb.I dare say we haven't heard the last of Lauren Johnston...hopefully she hasn't peaked too soon....Britain has uncovered a new fresh historical storyteller ....thank you twitter......
Revisiting the Robin Hood myth this book hooks you from the first page with a new take on a well known story. Bringing to life the 12th century with an historian's eye for detail I found thins book a thoroughly enjoyable read. With page turning climactic moments, and relatable characters, Johnson draws you into a world that you will find hard to put down. I would highly recommend as a present for that book lover in your life!
Lauren Johnson's "The Arrow Of Sherwood" is a refreshing, original and entertaining take on the ever-popular legend.
The author shows great knowledge of the England of the Twelfth Century in which she places the story, and she weaves the factual and the fictional together very skilfully and subtly (among the familiar characters of Robin, Marion, Will Scarlette and Much the Miller's son she adds names of real families of the Nottinghamshire of the time, real events, plus short but memorable cameos from King Richard and Prince John) to give the story a deep and fascinating rooting in England's actual past. Particularly of interest here are the voices of the medieval women; far from the usual wispy object of desire, her Marion is a brilliant character - a tall, intelligent, forthright woman struggling awkwardly with her perceived place - whilst there are new intriguing characters to get to know like Robin's mother, Agnes Scarlette and young Edeva. Her Robin himself is a complex and believable creation who demonstrates many skills and flaws in his quest for justice and redemption, rather than relying solely on his bow arm.
Like the troubadours of old, Ms Johnson is first and foremost a great storyteller; from the first chapter the reader is immersed in the fascinating world of Medieval Nottinghamshire with its customs, laws and characters, the pace of the action never falters as you are carried along in a story filled with humour, adventure and, most tellingly, a great compassion for the people of the time. Highly recommended.
I really enjoyed this book. I liked the way Robin didn't set out to be an outlaw, rather he wanted to be a "good lord", but gradually he found there was almost no such thing as a responsible lord anymore, so he was forced to take the side of the outlaws. I enjoyed all the minor characters too, especially the younger ones. And the way he could use Will as a double was a good storyline. The romance with Marian was refreshingly matter of fact, it didn't read like a historical romance. I liked the way he didn't really like her much at the beginning, but came to see that she shared the same values as him, and could be trusted to support him, whereas Elaine was power hungry and didn't seem to have any compassion for the ordinary people.
And the "ordeal" scene was quite traumatic. I can't imagine holding a hot iron! The book taught me quite a bit about that period of history. Interesting idea that King Richard was also pragmatic and didn't punish his enemies as he might have done, because he needed their support.
I really enjoyed reading this book. Even though Robin Hood is a mythical character, the entertaining, fast paced story is placed in an authentic historical setting, full of interesting detail. You learn a lot about medieval life and the detail about the social set up, the laws, the food, the towns and much more is fascinating. The author has an easy, engaging style which makes the reader keep reading to find out what happens next in the eventful story. There are lots of recognisable characters, including Maid Marian, the Sheriff and Will Scarlett, although I wondered why he was called Friar Toki and not Friar Tuck. All in all a great read and I look forward to Ms Johnson's next book.
Lauren Johnson makes an impressive debut with her first book, The Arrow of Sherwood. Her passion for historical research gives great insight into what life was like for all levels of society and does so subtly, as an integral part of the story. The writing style is fluent and engaging in presenting believable characters, conflicted relationships and Machiavellian power politics in a fast moving and very satisfying plot.
Most impressive is the author's confidence and imagination in creating a compelling story around a legend about whom one might think there was nothing new to say. Lauren Johnson manages to avoid much of the `baggage' around the Robin Hood myth while retaining the `feared by the bad, loved by the good' ethos of the story.
I particularly liked that Robin's heroism in fighting injustice is interpreted as his compassion, intelligence and ultimate redemption, not just his excellent hand / eye coordination!
Thank goodness that in England vulnerable people being taxed out of their homes, needing charity to get enough to eat and generally being disenfranchised is all history now....