Title: The Outlaws of Sherwood
Author: Robin McKinley
Review Summary: My favorite re-telling, with relatable characters and much adventure.
As part of Alison at The Cheap Reader’s Project: Fairy Tale, I decided to review one original and three re-tellings of Robin Hood in February. Obviously this post is a little late, but here’s the last re-telling I picked up. It was also by far my favorite, which probably shouldn’t surprise me since I almost always love books by Robin McKinley. As with most of the other re-tellings, the story hardly needs a synopsis, but I would like to mention that in this version we actually start shortly before Robin becomes an outlaw…
The slightly earlier starting point was, in my opinion, an opportunity the author took to re-write Robin as a much more likable character. In all of the other books I’ve read for this event, Robin has been arrogant and/or too carefree about risking people’s lives. In this particular book, Robin is both more likable and more believable. He worries about everyone else. He isn’t actually very good at shooting to start out with. And it was never his idea to become an outlaw or a legend. Instead he just cares about people and wants to do his best to help. Having a main character that I liked made this story much more enjoyable for me than in the other versions!
The supporting characters were also particularly likable in this version. Both Much and Marian where well-developed characters with abilities that made them very helpful to Robin. Marian was much more competent than in the other books I’ve read. This wasn’t a big deal and didn’t steal the focus away from Robin; it was just assumed she was as capable as any one else. I think this is a positive development, since it shouldn’t have to be a big deal to have an impressive female character. I also liked that the romance between Marian and Robin took place largely in the background. So many books let the romance take over the plot instead! Like the romance, the writing was well done but kept in the background – enjoyable but nothing spectacular. By far the biggest appeal this book has is the great adventure story with wonderfully relatable characters.