Parke Godwin,
Robin & the King
(Avon, 1993)

Robin Hood: archer, trickster, outlaw, hero. Lawyer?

Maybe. Edward Aelredson of Denby, Parke Godwin's intriguing twist on Robin Hood set in the time following William the Bastard's conquest of England in 1066, fulfilled the requirements of legend in Sherwood. In Robin & the King, Godwin explores later years, when a middle-aged Robin lives contentedly as husband and father despite the continued oppression of Norman rule.

Wait, did I say contentedly? No, Robin still chafes under the thumb of his Norman overlords, and he has used recent years to learn to read (several languages) and to study the points of English and Norman law. When he makes points with the king and sheriff now, it's with legal precedent instead of an arrow.

The king finds him tiresome -- and a threat to Norman peace even more insidious than outlawry. Robin will pay the price, and he'll fight back the only way he knows how.

Robin & the King is less exciting than Sherwood in many respects, although it breaks new ground by taking Hood far beyond the usual bounds of his story and into the middle of events in the heart of Normandy. A subplot with the amorous Saxon wife of a powerful Norman grows quickly tedious, but his on-and-off relationship with King William I and his sons -- and his influence on the royal succession -- is highly developed and complex. The climax is exciting and unforgettable, a fitting conclusion to Godwin's tale.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 13 August 2005

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